Monday, 15 August 2016

3rd August - Saltria, Williamshutte, Piz da Uridi, Zallinger Hutte, Saltria, South Tyrol, Italy

We awoke to a lovely blue clear sky, and from our balcony, lovely views of the mountains we walked through yesterday.  

We had planned walks from Inntravel, but decided to follow our own route, The holiday had been tough, and the walks proposed as options all involved some considerable climbs.  We were perfectly happy searching for butterflies strolling through the meadows.  I had studied the map, and had picked out what I thought would be a less challenging walk.

After breakfast we headed down hill from the hotel to get the chair lift to take us up to Williamshutte, a climb of just under 500 metres.  I am not a lover of chair lift, the worst experience being at the Needles on the Isle of Wight, but managed to survive the climb we were taken gently through the pines, with views of the Plattkofel on our left, and ahead of us.

When we arrived at the top there were commanding views all around us, of course the two peaks of the Sciliar standing out once again.

And we could partly see where we had walked yesterday.

Stunning views in crystal clear mountain air this morning.

We walked down from Williamshutte, where they were preparing for what would seem to be a busy day today, then making our way toward Zallinger Hutte we followed a dirt track along with many others.  On the way there were Coal Tits in the pines above us.  

These are much greyer on the back than those typically seen in the UK, and have a much brighter cheek patch.

The first butterfly to appear, a Piedmont Ringlet.

On reaching the right turn for the Hutte, we turned to the left, we would be back later.  The path took us past a paddock with several local horses in it.  These seem to be the breed of horse here, they look lovely in the sunshine.

We were going to skirt the lower slopes of the Plattkofel, a huge monolith that reaches a summit of just under 3000 metres.  We headed towards Murmeltier Hutte on the path 9A, this took us through a sheltered sunny valley where the were lots of lovely wild flowers including daisies and purple scabius.

Behind us there was a stream, and this was partly covered by Cow parsley, and this Valerian, and attraction to the bees.  As we walked past all you could hear was the dronne of the bees as poured over the flower heads.

The butterflies were just waking up, and it allowed us the opportunity to stop, watch and to photograph them.

A Mountain Ringlet.

An Alpine Heath

A Large Ringlet

A new butterfly once again, a Weaver's Fritillary

We stopped at the Mumeltier Hutte for a drink, and stared at the peaks above us trying to see if the shapes moved and turned into Chamois.  They didn't despite many tries.  We then continued on in the direction of Piz da Uridi staying on path 9A that led through a gate just after the Hutte.  This took us through an area of fallen rocks that were by now covered in flowers and trees.  The flowers here were the attraction again to several butterflies.  A Marzine Blue.

More Mountain Fritillaries.

And a Lesser Marbled Fritillary.

As we came out of the area of rocks it became another sheltered flower meadow with a valley leading down hill.  There were also yet another group of Black Redstarts about feeding young the many insects that were about. 

The calls of the young begging for food piercing the silence of the area.

I spotted a white butterfly that was not one we had seen before and I chased after it, only to find that there were many butterflies in the area, so we stopped to take our time and see what was here.

The White butterfly was a type of Clouded Yellow, at the time I thought Berger's or Pale, the only way to distinguish the two being by markings on the upper wing, and when the butterfly settles it closes the the wings so it is almost impossible to tell.  It turned out though on further investigation after seeing later the upper wing pattern that these were in fact Mountain Clouded Yellows.

There were several blue butterflies about one of which was definitely another Marzine Blue.  There were also several skippers, this time a Large Grizzled Skipper.

The path leads up the scree slope and joins the path 527 and we turned left.  From our position on the side of the scree slope we had some lovely views across the valley towards the Rosszahne range, and the gap we had passed through yesterday, you can just see the path leading away from the gap

Clouds had built up over the mountains and the sun was now being obscured for lengthy periods, so the attention turned to the small alpine flowers to be found in the rocks.  These delightful bell flowers are Scheuchzer's Bluebell

While everywhere were these delicate white flowers with beautifully patterned petals.  Strangely they are called Grass of Parnassus.

And it wouldn't be the mountains if there wasn't any gentians, these are the Alpine gentian, and were tiny the flowers being smaller than a finger nail.

Always though as we walked and searched the rocks there was the steep cliff faces of the Plattkofel above us.

You can see how the scree slopes over the many millions of years have seen the growth of the grasses and flowers, leading to the trees, at first conifers, and then lower down the deciduous trees.

Suddenly there was the piercing whistle of a Marmot, and I spotted one running along the slope below us.  It disappeared behind the trees, but close to where it went there were three sitting on the top of a rock.  One standing, surveying the area, probably the Marmot that owned the loud whistle.

The danger seemed to be over as they returned to the matter of grooming.

A little further on we came across another family party of Black Redstarts, the young birds once again begging to be fed by the adults.

The path wound around the side of the mountain, through the bolder fields, created when the rocks fell from the side of the main mountains.

The path gave lovely views across the valley.  We could see the Panorama Hotel, and cable car station where we had walked from yesterday.  Plus of course there was the familiar two peaks.

Nutcrackers called from the top of the pine trees, and at one stage I heard a Peregrine call again, but managed this time to see it as it flew past us and away into the distance.

Finally we reached Piz da Uridi at the meeting point of two main paths.  Here we were rewarded with some more wonderful views of the towering rocks of the Plattkofel, and Langkofel, the mountain that sits behind.

Plus out across the Gardena valley.

We turned back down the path 531a heading towards the Zallinger Hutte, the path winding down through pine trees and small meadows, every so often the sun would appear and with it the butterflies.

More Mountain Ringlets

Plus an Alpine Grizzled Skipper

There were more Nutcrackers about, I was getting used to their call now.  They prefer the tops of the trees and can be difficult to see.  There was also a bird of prey calling but we couldn't find the owner

The path came out of the rock fields and away from the pine trees, and made its way past many alpine huts through meadows that were being cut for hay.  We stopped at the Zallinger Hutte for lunch a traditional alpine hut with many window boxes of bright red Geraniums to brighten the scarred wooden exterior.

 After lunch we then headed down path 9 in the direction of Saltria.  Again we were rewarded with wonderful views of the Rosszahne range.

Once again the sun was obscured by clouds, so there was not to much going on as we followed the path downhill.  There was though the constant sound of running water as the main stream we were following was joined by many smaller ones.  

With the main stone of these ranges here being limestone it is thought that there is a huge lake inside the Sciliar Mountain, that has accumulated as water percolates through the limestone.  This water then feeds the many streams.  It is fast water with plenty of rocks.

A Nutcracker appeared on the ground in front of us, making a change for the very top of the trees.

When the sun did come out once again the butterflies returned.  Amongst them was another new species, Titania's Fritillary.

The path then met with path 8 the route we had taken yesterday, once again with stunning views, of the mountains and more evidence of the meadows being cut for hay.

This path took us back through the the Tirler Almgasthof and onward to the hotel as the sun came out once again.  After the tough walk yesterday, today was a nice way to enjoy the scenery and the wildlife. the cable car did all the climbing and the majority of the route was downhill.  Through are ambling the walk had taken just on five hours but it was a lovely time.

We spent sometime on the balcony in the sun, I then had itchy feet once again, and started photographing the House Martins.  This wasn't too successful so I went down to the stream across the road where I had heard Grey Wagtail all afternoon.  I saw the Grey Wagtail, but only as it called as it flew past me, all I was left with was the stream itself, and some atmospheric views of the the distant Plattkofel Mountain and some of the jagged peaks.

The clouds were building over the mountains but never threatened us in the valley.  It was time to get ready for dinner, and with a drink on the terrace to start the evening, a pleasant meal, and after dinner we sat on the balcony once again, enjoying a glass of wine.

One more day to go, lets hope the weather behaves.

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