Friday, 24 June 2016

Alps, day two...

A nice thing happened at the beginning of Sunday: having arrived relatively late on Saturday, we made a brief trip to stock up on food at the airport Edeka on the basis that one of the local supermarkets in Murnau was open on Sunday morning. I duly headed down to Murnau on the Sunday morning to make a dent in our shopping list and, sure enough, the doors to the Fenemann were indeed open: even people inside. The shop looked dimpsy, but sometimes that's life. I duly headed in, grabbed a basket and began to look for some fruit and veg, only to hear a rather frantic 'Entschuldigung!' from behind me. Oh.

I turned, and the lady explained - very nicely - that the shop is not in fact open, just the bakery at the front of store. Oh. So, putting on my best confused foreigner display (not hard, you might unkindly say!) I explained that we'd just arrived the night before, had seen on the internet that the shop was open and had no idea it was just the bakery - was there anywhere in town where I could get food for two small children and their parents? Bless her, she was kind enough to take me round the supermarket, find me enough to get us through the next three meals and ring it all up on a side till - I cannot imagine that I would ever have been treated so generously in the UK...

So - partly because of this semi-aborted shopping trip - we headed to Murnau for Monday morning to finish off the shopping, find out what there is to do when you have small children in these parts, and let the girls let off some more steam at a playground. The tourist office were very helpful and the playground was great: a ride-on rocking motorbike a particular hit. We then walked down to the Staffelsee to see whether there might be some wildlife, some views and some more space to play. The verges on the way past the railway underpass were casually stunning: Meadow Clary, Nottingham Catchfly and Viper's-bugloss rubbed shoulders (leaves?) amongst the grasses, set off by Bird's-foot Trefoil and poppies.

The lake offered all three opportunities: the girls fished with twigs, ran riotous games of tag and cooed over ducklings. A small family of Coot were also entertaining: the parents delicately feeding their half dozen offspring with fragments of water plants and then disciplining the more insistent with a brief shake whenever they got too excited. A family of mallards with larger young were tolerated when they passed through, but a pair of Red-crested Pochard were driven off with great enthusiasm whenever they got within ten metres: no apparent reason - perhaps the Coot just didn't like the male's flamboyant hairdo?

Coot tending offspring

We thought we might try and have a look at the Murnauer Moos in the afternoon as the background reading and info we had seen looked amazing. We discovered that nearly thirty square kilometres of valley bog are indeed fabulous, just not when you have a long walk through boring conifers to overcome first, and most particularly not when it's steadily raining and one child is steadily howling. Perhaps another time.

Beautiful flowers of Cranberry - Vaccinium oxycoccos - at the Murnauer Moos.
Another day, another thing to try. The weather forecast was ok and so we thought we could try something a little more flexible. We trundled down to the Staffelsee again, and hopped on the boat to Uffing, gliding across a glassily calm lake under a mist-shrouded hillside. The boat company provide blankets for the trip and these were eagerly snapped up by the passengers. As everyone migrated for the cafe at Uffing, we made the most of the chance to explore.

Lissa soon wanted to have a nap, so was strapped into the sling. Na wandered off ahead and Bina and I ambled along behind. Initially we walked along a fairly standard piece of lakeside fen which rose up to some fairly undistinguished farmland - the occasional pair of Canada geese honking forlornly in the damp areas - and the gentle burble of Marsh Warblers from the fen. Taller trees hosted a plethora of Fieldfares fussing over well-grown young and a couple of Icterine Warblers spinning out a reel of frenetic mimicry as an aural backdrop.

After skirting a campsite and working our way through a small woodland - nothing more interesting there than a Grey-headed Woodpecker - we dropped back to the lower-lying fenny land near the lake and, my word, but it was impressive. The wet meadows were studded with orchids, mainly broad-leaved marsh, but also the occasional twayblade skulking in the sedges. Pale pink spikes of Bistort rose through the longer vegetation, towered over by vivid purple irises. Splashes of blue proved to be rampion flowers, and a closer look revealed an abundance of spike-rush, sedges and butterworts. Drier land was a riot of yellow composites, Oxeye Daisy and buttercups - all in all a feast for the eyes. To cap it all, the most abundant butterfly was Marsh Fritillary. Very satisfying!

Looking back down towards the Staffelsee from the road back to Uffing. Note the lowering cloud on the Hoernle behind!

Iris germanica - how appropriate.

A trio of marsh-orchids

Rampion species - Phyteuma orbiculare, I think.

Token picture of Marsh Fritillary

With the cloud lowering across the Hoernle, we made it back to the cafe for lunch in time to hear some ominous rumbles of thunder across the lake. The boat arrived promptly when due, and we hurried on board to travel serenely back to Murnau. Fortunate perhaps that we got back when we did: the rain began to fall and as we arrived, the captain announced that this was to be the last boat of the day as the weather conditions precluded further trips! What about the poor souls waiting at Uffing, we wondered - presumably there is an alternative bus service, but how would they ever know that the next boat was not in fact coming?!

The cloud closing in over the Hoernle did at least make for some dramatic colours...

...and some moody views

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