Saturday, 13 August 2016

31st July - Kastelruth to Compatsch, South Tyrol, Italy.

After last night's storm the skies were clear over the mountains at dawn, there was some mist and low cloud around, but it all seemed quite calm after the aggression of the storm last night.

I was surprised, but pleased as all the reports had stated that today was going to be wet, with the clear skies as we sat down to breakfast we had to decide which route we were going to take to get to Compatsch.  Unfortunately though the clear and calm conditions did not last, and while we were having breakfast the cloud started to build up, and as we passed reception to return to our room we could see umbrellas going up outside, and the rain starting to fall. 

Our plan over breakfast was to have taken the chair lift, and then to follow the guide notes from there to the next hotel.  With the rain and mist the lift was not running so we would either have to walk from the hotel the full elevation in what was now quite horrendous conditions, or we could take the bus to the cable car, and use that to get to Compatsch.  There was not a decision to be taken, so we changed our clothes, put on the waterproofs and set off for the bus station.  The buses run every 15 minutes and we arrived just as one was about to pull out.

It was a short journey to Seis, the village we had walked through two days ago and picked up our one way tickets in the now pouring rain, and headed up the side of the mountain in our blue cable car pod.  As we got higher so the visibility worsened, after a journey of about 15 minutes we disembarked at Compatsch, again in pouring rain, and mountains that were obscured mostly by the cloud.  Kastelruth was at an elevation of 1089 metres above sea level.  Our cable car journey had taken us to up to 1850 metres, and it felt decidedly cooler, despite the rain.

We were much to early for the hotel so we browsed a few shops, had a cup of coffee in the cafe by the cable car station and watched the rain and mist sweep across the meadows.

Eventually the rain stopped and we were able to manage a short walk along a good path, around us though the mist swirled under and around the mountains and valleys.

We passed yet another family of Black Redstarts and there were plenty of Goldfinches calling from the clumps of trees.  The clouds then became much thicker, and the visibility decreased so we decided to turn back once again as it started to rain.  By now it was just after mid day so we decided to try the hotel, and were lucky, our room was available so we moved in.  The rain continued with it very heavy at times, and with it came the mist, which completely obscured any view from the room.  

We had lunch in a bar, and returned to the room.  Around 16.00 the weather became a lot brighter, the rain had stopped.  I was climbing the walls so decided to go out for a walk.

The rain might have stopped but the mist and cloud was still hanging around the twin peaks of the Sciliar Mountain.

I followed the path we had taken earlier, and around me House Martins swooped low over the very wet meadows.  The clouds were lifting, and there were sporadic views of the mountain peaks around me, but it was never the clear view that would reveal where we were.  At one point I watched the cloud increasing around the cable car station and wondered if I should turn back, but I waited and the threat subsided

I came across a cut meadow where a family party of Black Redstarts were feeding, and around me were several family groups of Goldfinches.  A familiar call passed me overhead, and then on the path in front of me was the owner, a Yellowhammer feeding young on the path.

The moment I stopped I began to notice birds.  In the bushes close to the path young Siskins moved through the branches.

As I walked on I pushed the Black Redstarts in front of me along the path, they stopping on the fence posts and the rocks, but always at a distance.  As I turned a corner though I was able to see at least three of the juvenile birds sitting on a rock waiting for the adult.

Much of the meadow had been cut, with the grass lying still, wet on the ground.  This was the attraction for the birds, seeds and insects in a plentiful supply.  I reached the road and turned back to wards the village, in another cut meadow there were Chaffinches feeding amongst the grass so I stopped to watch and see what else would appear.

A male Bullfinch flew past me, and out of sight, and from behind me at the top of a pine tree a Common Redpoll sang.  This confused for a bit, the call and song being slightly different from that of a Lesser Redpoll I am more familiar with.

In the meadow there were, of course, more Black Redstarts, and a Fieldfare appeared from the bushes to feed.

A male Siskin flew in from behind me and settled briefly in the pine tree.

Looking back towards the cable car station the cloud was again moving in so I decided to walk on.  On my right a farm building was yet another good sight for the Black Redstarts, a male called from the fence posts.  Interestingly it was sporting a ring on the right leg.

Then from there to the gutter on the roof.

The fields are littered with small rocks, these being the remnants of the glaciers that ad melted.  There are also much larger rocks such as this one close to the road I was now waking.

There is archaeological evidence from the area to suggest that rocks such as these, but much bigger, were used by man up to 10,000 years ago as refuges or places of settlement and shelter, the larger rocks providing an overhang, or places to be build shelters against.

The rocks themselves have become their own little gardens.

The cloud you can see in the above photographs continued to edge its way closer, and the threat of rain was always there.

As I reached the main car park area I heard what at first I thought could be a Stonechat, but as I finally located it, the bird flew towards me and perched on a tall shrub and I could see it was a Whinchat.

Another bird sitting on a post caught my eye, this time a Linnet.

As I watched the birds church bells started up, and I turned to see where they were coming from as I had not seen the traditional church in the area.  It turns out that Compatsch has a "modern" church, unfortunately not in keeping with those we have seen in other villages, but just as noisy.

Fortunately the bells were just to signal the Sunday service, and they did not bother us through the night

I walked around the rough ground to hopefully get better views of the Whinchat, and found a female carrying food to a spot in the deep grass.

I waited to see if she would appear again, but I must have missed her.  As a result I followed the road around a bend, and slightly uphill.  Here Crossbills flew over but never stopped, there was another distant Redpoll, and Blackcaps called in the trees by the side of the road.

It was now raining once again despite the areas of blue sky, so I made my way back to the hotel.  By the time we were ready for dinner the rain had stopped and there was some sunshine.  We had dinner in the hotel, after a "prosseco" reception.  We both made a mistake, don't eat halibut this far from the ocean.

Hopefully the weather will behave tomorrow, the forecast was mixed and you had to choose between the best one.  At least, despite the weather I was able to get some time outside, if only for a short while.

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