Friday 7 August 2015

Krn, Mangrtsko sedlo and Trenta

My summer "alpine holidays" continue. Recently I spent a nice few days in different parts of the Soča valley in western Slovenia. First I was on mount Krn (2245 m) for two days, where I enjoyed beautiful sceneries, a rich flora and some interesting wildlife. Common birds above the treeline were Alpine Accentors Prunella collaris and Alpine Choughs Pyrrhocorax graculus, along with Water Pipits Anthus spinoletta and Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe. Lower down on the pastures also Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, Rock Bunting Emberiza cia and Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca. I was luckier on the mammal front with a nice Weasel Mustela erminea hopping a few metres in front of me and two handsome Alpine Ibexes Capra ibex. Marmots Marmota marmota were quite common.
I also visited the Mangart plateau (Mangrtsko sedlo) where the highlight were a pair of SNOWFINCHES Montifringilla nivalis feeding their young in a cliff crevice. It was good to see this species again on Mangart, after some years' absence. Snowfinch is not an easy bird to see in the Slovenian Alps and every encounter is exciting. An unexpected sight was a male Cuckoo Cuculus canorus resting on some rocks well above the treeline, on Mangart's alpine pastures. A few Alpine Swifts Apus melba were also interesting, accompanying the already mentioned and quite common Alpine Accentors, Water Pipits, Wheatears and so on. The river Soča delivered the obligatory Dippers Cinclus cinclus which rounded up a nice three-day tour. Now, enjoy the photos!
Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis with food for the young (which were waiting on a rocky ledge in a vertical cliff), Mangrtsko sedlo.
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris - very common both on Krn and the Mangart plateau.
Gentiana cruciata was quite common on the south-facing slopes of Krn, around Planina Kuhinja.
Potentilla nitida, Krn.
Alyssum ovirense - a typical dweller of rocky places. Along with Arabis alpina, one of the few flowers to be found on the very top of Krn.
Aconitum angustifolium was one of the commonest species to be seen on Krn's south-facing slopes.
Geranium argenteum was maybe the commonest flower at all on Krn. Especially abundant towards the top of the mountain in a mixed habitat of grass and rocks.
Campanula zoysii (left) and Saxifraga squarrosa (right). Both quite common on rocks.
Rich alpine wildflower mix between Krn and Rdeči rob. Including: Geranium argenteum, Campanula scheuchzeri, Achillea clavenae, Trifolium sp., Taraxacum/Hieracium sp. ect. Vast grassy areas looked like this.
Papaver alpinum ssp. victoris - an endemic subspecies of the Bohinj-Krn Alps (southern Julian Alps).
Armeria alpina - common on rocky screes, but most were already in seed, Krn.
Alpine Ibex Capra ibex. Two different individuals; above Jezero v Lužnici, Krn.
Aquilegia bertolonii - found about 10 of these on a rocky scree above Jezero v Lužnici, Krn.
Crepis kerneri, Krn.
Saxifraga squarrosa and sign, Krn.
Saxifraga sedoides, Krn.
Saxifraga stellaris, Mangrtsko sedlo.
Saxifraga aizoides in two different stages of bloom. This was a very common species both on Krn and Mangart. Other species of Saxifraga occasionally still in flower included S. crustata, S. paniculata and S. hostii. The already mentioned S. squarrosa was the most prominent.
Rhodiola rosea, Krn.
The Krn mountain chain, from the southern slopes. Krn is the last summit to the left. The second from the left is mount Batognica, one of the main battle fields of the Soča front in World War I.
Krn's rocky summit with the characteristic "slide" shape of its southern part.
Krnsko jezero, looking nortwards from Krn's top. This is the largest and deepest high-alpine lake in Slovenia.
Sheep and mt. Vrh nad Peski, east of Krn.
Jezero v Lužnici - a small alpine lake in the Krn mountain chain.
Rdeči rob, with its reddish rocky formation is one of the main geological attractions in the Julian Alps. Viewed from Krn's top, looking eastwards.
Sunrise from Krn's summit - a great experience! In the first three pics, the highest top is mount Triglav (2864 m, Slovenia's highest mountain). The Krn lake is also visible. The two highest mountain tops in the last pics are Mangart (left) and Jalovec (right).
The most beautiful river on Earth - the Soča in the Trenta valley.
Dippers Cinclus cinclus enjoy the emeral river too!