Sunday, 18 September 2016

Dripping towards a close

We should have learned from the experiences of the last couple of days: never trust the forecast. Mainly sunny, but perhaps with the occasional shower, they said. Let's go to a lake where we can splash around, look at wildlife, hire a boat and generally enjoy the sun, we said. Fortunately it wasn't far. The sun was shining. The air was warm. There were frogs making that particularly joyous racket that only green frogs can (if you've only every heard a British amphibian chorus, I urge you to try out the continental green frog chorus. Like Lemmy said: if it's too loud, you're too old). Hey, look: there aren't any boats to hire anyway. Never mind, splashing in the moderately warm and delightfully chocolate-soup coloured splash zone is too much fun anyway. Hey, look: loads of orchids and damselflies and things to poke around at, pick up, taste, smell, chuck. This is fun! Oh: check out the big black cloud that's heading... oh. Oh well. Let's go home and ride the ponies instead.

It was fun while it lasted.

Whoever thought this was a good spot for a bench was absolutely correct.

We also thought we'd try a walk along a gentle valley which runs east-west between Oberammergau and Ettal. Reports of nice things (Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers, for instance) and a favourable view or three on Google Earth made it seductively interesting. The misty clouds rolling around the scarps made it romantically interesting. The pair of Black Woodpeckers calling in the trees above us made it sound exotically interesting. The drizzle - and then increasingly steady rain - made it, frankly, untenable. I strapped Lissa into the sling and promised to meet the other two at the Ettaler Weidmoos for lunch, then headed east back down the valley for the walk. Rain aside, it was absolutely lovely.

It just gets wetter. And wetter.

And wetter.

Tree Lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria

Romantically mist-clad slopes over the meadows

We ended up at the bog, all arriving fortuitously together and had a drizzled-upon lunch, but then - horrors - the clouds began to roll back and a fragment of blue poked through. That was enough for us: we set out to explore a little of the bog, the girls rejuvenated by the sight of sunshine and the heat on our skin. Indeed it got so warm that Lissa stripped off completely to rush about and chase butterflies. For butterflies there most certainly were. First of all we were visited by a Chequered Skipper, which sunned itself teasingly on various items of clothing. This was then joined by a Mazarine Blue, equally at home on our abandoned pullovers and jackets. The competition spurred the skipper to new heights of daring, landing with increasing confidence on legs, then hands and working round the whole family. Finally, fritillaries put in an appearance - singletons gliding jerkily past us and then several at a time batting around over the flowers. Closer examination proved intriguing: not a species I recognised... but fortunately the trusty field guide put me out of my misery: Bog Fritillary. How appropriate.

Pretty. Soggy.

Mazarine Blue Cyaniris semiargus

Mazarine Blue

Chequered Skipper Carterocephalus palaemon

Skipper raises the stakes

Bog Fritillary Proclossiana eunomia from below

Bog Fritillary from above.

Dactylorhiza c.f. traunsteineri. I think.

Statuesque plant (False Helleborine Veratrum album). Amazing spider! (No, I don't know what it is - yet)

Alpine Bartsia Bartsia alpina

Primula farinosa is an ever-present feature of the bog.

It's beautiful when it's not raining!

Somehow, we managed to save the best for last. Even though it wasn't meant to be the most exciting day - in fact was really only a chance to use our travel cards one more time and ride another cable-car. We drove to Oberammergau for our last full day, to take the Laberbergbahn to the top of the mountain. The day was spectacularly good: blue skies, calm, warm. Just what we'd come to the Alps for in the first place! The journey to the top was smooth, peaceful and sufficiently hair-raising for Na and the view from the top was - frankly - gorgeous. We walked back down to the car through meadows of brilliant flowers, then woods that deserved much more scrutiny than we were able to give them. A place to return to in the fullness of time, I think.

Snowbells were still flowering on the north-facing slopes - the ballerina of the alpine flora

Check out the sedges! There's the odd gentian and Bear's-ear to get past first, of course.

One-flowered Fleabane: common as muck.

A parting view: the path down from the Laber summit leads through the valley running up and right across the middle of the picture. Not too shabby at all.