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From the Alps to the Adriatic:
The Mountains and Marshes of North-East Italy and Slovenia
Expedition: June 1 - 11 1997
Leaders Paul Tout and Chris Gibson

by Chris Gibson

Sunday 1 June: Arrival
Gatwick Airport was bathed in warm sunshine as we departed at lunchtime, just a few minutes late because of air traffic congestion. But on reaching the Continent, the cloud thickened progressively, with barely a glimpse of the ground below. Descending into Venice’s Marco Polo Airport, we suddenly popped out of the cloud to see the splendours of the city, its waterways and lagoons spread out before us; the first bird, a little egret was noted even before the plane touched down, soon to be followed by hooded crows and the ubiquitous feral pigeons. Although overcast, at least it wasn’t raining, as we had been informed during the flight. Once landing formalities were complete, we successfully met up with Paul and the final member of the group, Robin, who had arrived from Australia the day before. Bags stowed in the minibuses, we headed eastwards, across vast fertile plains dominated by intensive agriculture, a journey enlivened by a couple of purple herons and marsh harriers flying past. Fortunately, the speed of the autostrada brought us to the more promising surroundings of Sistiana in just ninety minutes. On the patio of the Alla Pineta hotel, Luciana, our host, and her son Claudio were waiting to greet us and show us to our rooms.

Unload, unpack, wash and brush-up and there was just time to squeeze in a short walk before dinner, along the Rilke path, after negotiating the fearsomely busy main road. Being Sunday afternoon, the path too was quite busy, but there were still a few birds around - jackdaws clamouring along the cliffs, alpine swifts wheeling and ‘chittering’ above, and a blue rock thrush performing its languid display flight from the cliff face. A substantial haze restricted the views over Sistiana Bay and the offshore mussel beds, although Trieste was just visible down the coast.

A strong Mediterranean feel to the vegetation belied the fact that here is the northernmost outpost of this climatic zone; any distance inland or upwards, and the central European influence asserts itself. Paul pointed out the smoke bush, St. Lucie’s cherry, manna ash, Montpelier maple, hop-hornbeam, Christ’s-thorn and shrubby scorpion-vetch, all characteristic Mediterranean shrubs, and all variously toxic, armed or smelly to withstand the browsing pressure and summer heat. Typically also, the invasive alien tree-of-Heaven was also obvious in this community. Perhaps as result of recent drought conditions, few herbaceous plants were flowering, apart from clumps of the white bedstraw Galium lucidum and patches of Orlaya grandiflora, its umbrella-like flower heads embellished by hugely enlarged petals around the perimeter. Another touch of the exotic was Passiflora caerulea, in full bloom, no doubt an escape from cultivation as this is a native of the Americas. Soon we were back at the hotel for dinner, the first of many memorable meals prepared by Claudio, and most welcome it was for the hungry migrants from northern Europe. Starting as we meant to go on, the bird log was duly completed, and details given about tomorrow’s plans, although by now it was raining, as if to underline the need to retain some flexibility in those plans.

Monday 2 June: Carsiana and Isola della Cona
It rained all night, but seemed to be clearing as we headed to the local botanic garden, Carsiana, as an introduction to the unfamiliar, diverse flora of this limestone region (the carso in Italy, karst in Slovenia). The garden is set in a dolina, a more or less conical depression formed by the collapse of an underground cave, and the original four hundred native plants have been supplemented by a couple of hundred further specialities. All are clearly labelled, a real bonus for a tour leader new to these parts. Paul described the microclimatic conditions within a dolina - hot and sunny on the south-facing slope, cool and shady on the north-facing, with a temperature inversion (cold air sinks) as you progress down the slopes - and the human influences upon the habitats. This gave a clear picture of just why the carso is so rich in wildlife, and whetted out appetites for a closer look at the plants. Or perhaps ‘wetted’ would be a more accurate description: the rain had returned with a vengeance, and the only birds were a few miserable-sounding blackcaps and chaffinches, and a couple of fly-over hawfinches. A quick look around was the order of the day, before boarding the buses in an attempt to find kinder weather. Our intended destination, the nearby, exposed Val Rosandra, was clearly out of the question, so we headed towards the light, down to the plains and the new wetland reserve at Isola della Cona. This wonderful site, near the mouth of the Isonzo river, was created from arable land only eight years ago, and is a model example of creative conservation - and it has a hide, a high priority given the looming skies.

By the car park, thickets of the introduced shrub false indigo were festooned with clambering Clematis viticella, its purple flowers hanging heavy with raindrops, and the raised banks were clothed in birthwort, one of the many plants accorded rather dubious medicinal value by the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’. A marsh warbler treated everyone to a display of its infinitely varied vocal abilities, but seeing it in its willow bush was more problematical. Even more elusive was the distant singing Savi’s warbler, producing such an insubstantial ‘reeling’, difficult to pinpoint, that we could almost imagine we were hearing things.

The marsh frogs, however, posed no such problems, and their loud croaking and quacking calls guided us to the information centre for lunch. At this point, Paul produced the first of our lunchtime meals, prepared by his wife Ann; every day a different, and excellent, meal accompanied us on our travels - the gastronomic memories of this holiday have proved to be as lasting as any!

Fed and watered, we headed for the hide. Following the rain, huge numbers of snails, especially Cepaea nemoralis, were out and about, in a bewildering variety of colours and patterns. Theory suggests that this polymorphism is maintained by adaptation to different microhabitats, but to find so many forms in one small, apparently uniform, area may indicate that this is not the whole story. The three-storey hide is entered on the lower ground floor, partly below the water level, so that it gives a fascinating view of the underwater world of the lagoon and reedbed. Upstairs, in the more traditional view, the scrapes were teeming with birds. Eight spoonbills put on a good show, feeding and flying, alongside little egrets and grey herons; various ducks included single pintail and pochard, and several garganey. Two splendid black terns hovered and dipped right in front of the hide, looking for all the world as though they were thinking of breeding, and the sharp-eyed crowd picked out first one, then two and three night herons sitting motionless in trees at the far side of the pool. A squacco heron flew across, then virtually disappeared in a tiny reed clump, and briefly a little bittern edged its way to the top of a reed stem for all to see. A couple of black-winged stilts sat unconcernedly on their nests, while smaller waders, including ruff, little stints and a ringed plover, poked around on the muddy margins.

As we walked back, a male red-backed shrike flew from fencepost to fencepost in front of us, and at the entrance, we noticed numerous pendent nests of paper wasps attached to the roof of the information board. In view of the ever-darkening sky, we felt the best option now was to drive around the area, looking for birds, and always keeping close to the vans. The Valle Cavanata, again with extensive wetland views, had more egrets and waders, together with several mute swans and a feral group of grey-lag geese. Down bumpy roads we continued, to the Gulf of Trieste and its lagoon-like shallow sea, littered with tree debris which had been washed down the rivers in spate. Several curlew were feeding on the sandflats and a marsh harrier quartered the marshes, but most attention was focused upon the pine woodland, planted on the fringing dunes. The ‘nests’ of pine processionary moths hung from almost every tree, and the rich song of a nightingale welled out of the depths of the wood. A golden oriole whistled and squealed, eventually giving brief glimpses as it flew away, and a scops owl produced a few unexpected daytime hoots.

It had been a long day, and fortunately not too badly affected by the weather, once we had recovered from our initial soaking. The day was rounded of in style by what was for many the best meal of the holiday - vongole (shellfish in pasta), veal (not crated, we were assured) and tiramisu.

Tuesday 3 June: Cerknisko Jezero
Another cloudy, humid start, but it wasn’t raining. An early walk along the Rilke path produced a family party of long-tailed tits, several enormous jellyfish in the sea, and a very confiding pair of red squirrels, in their deep brown, almost black, colour form.

After a postcard stop in Sistiana, we headed to the border for our first foray into Slovenia. Normally, and this was the case subsequently, the border crossing is achieved quickly, but today there were long queues back from the Slovenian checkpoint. Apparently, they were expecting a delegation of Euro-inspectors, and the Slovenes were keen to demonstrate their abilities to exercise border controls as part of their desire to join the EU. Another sign of hoped-for links with the West was the extensive development in progress close to the border, but a few kilometres into Slovenia, it was as though we had gone back several decades. The modern development and intensive agricultural landscape of Italy was replaced by more extensive, pastoral, patchwork farming and settlements, with its promise of wildlife riches ahead.

Approaching our destination, we paused briefly on a forest road, overlooking a mountain river, where a honey buzzard drifted over, and chiffchaff, wood warbler and firecrests were singing. The forest floor was clothed in a distinctive assemblage of plants, which we encountered time and again, including lily-of-the-valley, asarabacca, bastard balm, knotted crane’s-bill and Lamium orvala, a showy, purple-flowered dead-nettle. Cerknisko Jezero, our main site, is a karstic lake, surrounded by limestone hills. The level of the lake is dependent upon groundwater levels in the limestone, and thus tends to fluctuate seasonally; given the relatively dry winter, it is not surprising that the ‘lake’ was barely wet at all. From our first stop just outside Cerknisko, a little open water was visible in the distance, but our attention was focused upon the surrounding grassland, with scattered scrub. The botanically-minded wandered (slowly) amongst marsh marigolds, summer snowflake, marsh spurge, black bog-rush and various sedges, but sadly the wild gladioli were showing no sign of flowering, again perhaps a victim of the drought. Several brimstone butterflies and burnet companion moths added further interest, along with a most obliging four-spotted chaser dragonfly. Meanwhile, the birding group with Paul had penetrated deeper into the scrubland, and encountered numerous whitethroats and yellowhammers, with a tantalising flight view of a barred warbler, here approaching the south-western extreme of its breeding range.

Back at the vans, a hobby hunted overhead as the sun started to emerge from the clouds. We moved on to find a suitable lunch stop, a sheltered flowery meadow amid the dense beech woodland which surrounds much of Cerknisko Jezero. Although the grassland was not as diverse as it might have been, the display of blue meadow clary among yellow viper’s-grass was most spectacular; the attendant insects included Mazarine blue, blue-tailed damselfly and silver-Y moth.

After lunch, we strolled through more distant, and consequently more diverse, meadows where we found fragrant and burnt-tip orchids, and alpine rose drooped beautifully from the wood edge. Among the beech, there was a scattering of other trees, including wild pear, yew, bladder-nut and true service-tree. Under the dense shade, very few plants were actually in flower apart from a few saprophytic bird’s-nest orchids, although the leaves of cyclamen, hellebores and lungworts were obvious; these woods are much more thickly, and diversely, vegetated than we associate with beech woods in Britain. To judge from the rooting areas, the woods also support wild boar; typically, none were seen. The track took us down to the ‘lake’ shore, a sea of reeds, with distant hunting dragonflies and a marsh harrier, and patches of a beautiful mauve and white violet Viola elatior. On we went, by bus, and came to a raised causeway through long grass meadows; this was likely spot for corncrakes, one hundred pairs of which breed at this site. In the middle of the afternoon, they were unlikely to be naturally active, so Paul tried to upset them into action with his tape recordings. To no avail - the stiff wind was against us. The next stop was by the river, which usually drains out of the lake, but due to the lowered water level was actually flowing backwards. Extensive, semi-improved buttercup meadows had a few early marsh and loose-flowered orchids, and a sedge warbler sang from the reeds. On the muddy margins, lots of medicinal leeches were out looking for food; a particularly large one was being eyed up by a marsh frog - but who was intent on eating who? The last halt on our circumnavigation of the lake was a further area of (dry) marshland, where the orchids were much less showy than expected, but a quail was calling nearby as we set off home, via our second cheap petrol stop of the day.

Wednesday 4 June: Val Rosandra, Monfalcone and Lake Doberdo (twice)
Excitement underfoot as we waited to depart - a couple of garden snails engaged in what was aptly described as amore on the hotel patio! The sun was trying really hard to get out as we headed to complete Monday’s abortive itinerary at Val Rosandra. This site is the last remaining extensive area of carso grassland in the area; although it has suffered from the withdrawal of grazing stock, its exposed hilltop position overlooking Trieste has helped to retain much of its interest, and it is now the subject of a restorative grazing programme. From the vans, we walked up through a series of lovely flowery meadows; a wryneck hopped across the path, and nightingales and whitethroats were in song from almost every patch of scrub. Especially when the sun finally got out, there were butterflies everywhere, particularly Adonis blues and marbled whites, with smaller numbers of black-veined white, pearly heath, and Glanville and twin-spot fritillaries. Day-flying moths too were much in evidence, with an array of burnets and foresters , and several speckled yellows. In the warmth, the song of field crickets was all around, and at each footstep, other insects were disturbed, including Roesel’s bushcrickets and a praying mantis nymph. A couple of roe deer scooted across the hillside, and in absolute contrast to the agility of the deer, the air was full of rose chafers, bumbling around heavily and landing with a crash on any available open flower. And all the time we were amongst vegetation of the most diverse sort, including burning bush, yellow rattle, Centaurea triumfetti and wild thyme.

We continued almost imperceptibly upwards until, emerging from a pine plantation, we suddenly found ourselves on the edge of the gorge, running down towards Trieste. Despite the better weather, it was still very hazy, which restricted the view; perhaps, judging from the industrial complex we could see, that wasn’t a bad thing. Around our feet, there were several plants of the local endemic golden-drops Onosma javorkae. And so we carried on and up to the hilltop. Dramatic stands of large, thistle-like Jurinea mollis were the focus of attention for scarce swallowtails, high brown fritillary and false heath fritillary, as well as the red and black striped bug Graphosoma italicum and a couple of hummingbird hawk-moths. There were rather few birds around, apart from a male rock bunting in song on the valley edge, and numerous woodlarks, taking advantage of the bushes as lookout and song posts.

At the summit, a patch of limestone scree had a few plants of the local speciality Drypis spinosa ssp. jacquiniana, and on the way down, a similar scree patch yielded a large male ladybird spider, now a very considerable rarity in Britain. The deluge of delights continued at every step: a field cricket posed openly on the path, a cream-spot tiger moth flew across in a flurry of orange, black and white, and then in the pines where we took lunch, yet more butterflies, including wood white, clouded yellow and great banded grayling. From the sublime to the ridiculous, our next site - one for the birders - was at the back of Monfalcone industrial estate, instantly recognised by several of the party as Teesmouth-on-Adriatic, from its areas of heavy industry, intertidal land claim and birds. A great white egret posed very helpfully with a little egret, showing the differences in size and posture, and black-winged stilts and Kentish plovers fed around the lagoons. Further out, little terns were roosting, together with a much larger white blob which on closer inspection resolved itself into a gull-billed tern. Typically of such artificial habitats, the plants were mostly weedy in nature, including stink aster and viper’s-bugloss, mixed with coastal species like sea rocket, rock samphire and glasswort. Brief views of a large, blue-fronted dragonfly were enough to allow its identification as a southern emperor.

On the road again, this time to Lake Doberdo, another karstic lake nestled in the hills above Monfalcone. A singing cirl bunting and three common buzzards overhead greeted our arrival, and the air was thick with the perfume of wild privet and honeysuckle. As the temperature was falling, relatively few insects were taking advantage of this nectar source, apart from a carpenter bee, resplendent and fearsome-looking with its metallic purple body and wings. Lake Doberdo is known for its butterflies, but the lateness of the hour meant that we saw only one southern white admiral, quartering the hedges which were festooned with the feeding webs of Yponomeuta cagnagella caterpillars. Heading down to the lake, through old willow and poplar woodland, a hoopoe flashed across a clearing, and a great spotted woodpecker clambered up a dead tree, possibly to its nest site. The brilliant blue waters of the lake were pierced by whorled spikes of mare’s-tail, and the surface was alive with large pond skaters Aquarius najas. Not so large as they at first seemed though: each, with a leg count of 12, was a mated pair. Back into the scrub, a melodious warbler sang briefly, its scratchy notes far from melodious, while a few corn buntings jangled in the distance. A single plant of purple mullein was, most appropriately, being devoured by a mullein moth caterpillar, and we disturbed an enormous, though not yet fully mature, migratory locust.

After an early dinner, out we went again, back to the hills, armed with a tape to try and lure nightjars at dusk. Well, they were there - at least three churring - but none wanted to play with us. So as dusk turned to night, we revisited Doberdo. What a sight! It had been transformed into fairyland, with the winking lights of fireflies all down the track. At least three species of bat were feeding over the water, to judge from the sounds emanating from the bat detector, and then - the carabinieri arrived to find out what we were up to. Paul duly intercepted and informed them, clearly with some success as they left saying ‘we can tell you are an educated man’! But they couldn’t be persuaded to leave their vehicle and share in our experiences.

At least two scops owls were calling, and with a well-pitched whistle, Paul managed to get one to fly right over our heads. By now, the sky was fully dark, revealing the glories of the stars, long-forgotten in our lightpolluted world, and in the space of five minutes, three satellites passed over, to remind us we were not in a world of our own. Us watching them watching us? A single glow-worm completed the illuminations, and at least those in the front bus saw a family of foxes as we headed home, tired but amply rewarded for another long day.

Thursday 5 June: Trnova forest
Back to Slovenia, this time into the afforested mountain region of Trnova, near Predmaja. As we approached the mountains, a short stop allowed us to see a golden eagle nest - alas, no birds: the breeding success of raptors had apparently been poor, again perhaps related to drought. A couple of honey buzzards circled overhead as some compensation, and a purple patch of alpine basil-thyme was a magnet for butterflies, including the dusky alpine form of green-veined white.

Then it was upwards on the forest tracks, with the next stop by a dramatic viewpoint at around 1000m altitude, where the grassy slopes were studded with the blue flax Linum tommassini, endemic to this region. Dense woodland clothed most of the area, its diverse understorey of Thalictrum aquilegifolium, Ranunculus platanifolius, two Aconitum species, perennial honesty, martagon lily, wood spurge and snowy woodrush giving much the same impression as an English herbaceous border.

At the (closed) refuge, the party split, with the fitter ones following me downhill through the mountain pastures, and the rest with Paul on a more level track. My group was treated to swathes of Solomon’s-seal, studded with poet’s narcissi, false helleborines, and the occasional sword-leaved helleborine, spring gentian, round-headed orchid and patch of Iris graminea, while tree pipits sang all around. Arriving back at the refuge at the appointed time, we waited (and waited) for the others to appear, while the rain started and a nuthatch fed around the picnic tables. Eventually, Paul arrived back, alone and exhausted: his group has apparently overestimated their fitness and wanted a lift back. We finally settled down to a late lunch, and compared notes.

They had seen similar things to us, minus the narcissi, but with lots of trumpet gentians and a calling nutcracker.

After lunch, we drove on to the dolina of Smrekova Draga, one of the largest in the world; the collapse of that cave must have been a seriously cataclysmic event. It has left us with an ‘inverted mountain’, its vegetation zones showing clearly the thermal inversion - beech forest around the top, pine forest below, and mugo pine scrub (normally high alpine) in the bottom. Beside the road, the rock face was an alpine enthusiast’s delight; blue-eyed-Mary in the shade, yellow paederota drooping gracefully from crevices, alpine butterwort in the wet clefts, and the aptly-named spectacular primrose, largely out of reach of thieving hands.

A second dolina, at Paradana, proved something of a contrast. Much smaller, but steep and deep, it was cool enough in the bottom to still have a considerable snowbed in the mouth of the swallow-hole. Indeed, last century it was used as a summer source of ice, to be taken, packed in straw, to Trieste and beyond. The flora was familiarly northern - herb Paris, oak fern, opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage etc - although a Roman snail crossing the path pointed to southern affinities. In the bottom of the dolina, twinkling yellow patches of Viola biflora were in full bloom, bringing brightness to the gloomy surroundings. While trying to look these up in my alpine flora, I realised I had left my book down the mountain below the refuge - let’s hope it was found and enjoyed by some lucky Slovene. Emerging from the depths of the dolina, the rapid temperature change was particularly apparent to those of us still wearing shorts.

Heading home, we made one final stop by a roadside meadow which was crammed full of a tall, creamy lousewort Pedicularis comosa; a little more searching also turned up military orchids, harebells and a patch of greater yellow-rattle. Another satisfying day was wrapped up in the usual way with a lovely dinner, this time with birthday cake for Ann. Only later did it transpire that there was another birthday celebrant during the holiday - Paul himself - who kept this fact very close to his chest until it was safely out of the way.

Friday 6 June: Free day (Medeazza to Duino)
The term ‘free day’ doesn’t really describe accurately the events of this day. Eight ventured by train to Venice, and Robin headed for the cultural delights of Cividale. Meanwhile, Keith had explored down the wooded slopes to Sistiana beach before breakfast, and come back with an accurate description of a singing Orphean warbler, a rather rare visitor to this part of Italy.

Paul and I decided to run a morning walk for those remaining, down from Medeazza to Duino, through a representative area of scrub and tree-covered carso. It was hot and sunny, and proved to be most delightful walk. Hardly had we got out of the van before we found the local endemic cow-wheat Melampyrum carstiense, heard and saw briefly a subalpine warbler, and witnessed a nightingale delivering full song right out in the open, from a telephone wire. A beautiful pink and red moth Rhodostrophia calabra showed itself equally well. In botanical terms, given the extent of scrub encroachment, it was perhaps more interesting than spectacular, with for example the hybrid maple (field x Montpelier) growing exactly where it should, where the Mediterranean climate gives way to the central European influence. As we looked over a vineyard, a very large bird flapped slowly away and disappeared; not a good view, despite it being very close, but enough to identify it as a short-toed eagle. A few moments later, a sparrowhawk dashed across the same patch of sky. Another day, another dolina; this one with a grassy bottom, and surrounded by dense woodland. In spite of tick warnings, everyone gamely headed forth into the deluge of noise - grasshoppers and crickets making all sorts of chirps, churrs and rattles. The most dramatic insects were the ascalaphids, predatory lacewing relatives, which were sunning themselves, before taking off and demonstrating their almost unrivalled speed and agility in flight. With an equal mastery of flight, a large goshawk flew over, moving so powerfully yet with seemingly little effort.

Approaching lunchtime, we started to head downhill more purposefully, and so the Mediterranean influences increased rapidly. Smilax appeared, forming prickly, clambering thickets, with nettle-tree, both plant and butterfly. Several magnificent great banded graylings winged their way powerfully amongst the scrub. In Duino, we paused briefly in the garden of the forest police office, a connoisseur’s delight with all sorts of Mediterranean plants, including the showy north-east Balkan endemic Silene compacta.

We learned from the forest police that there was an ozmiza back in Medeazza, a tradition that producers can sell their own wine tax-free for 28 days per year, provided they also serve food. This relic of Slovene culture is advertised only by word of mouth, and a bunch of laurel leaves by the road junctions. Such an opportunity was too good to miss, and we didn’t need much persuading to head there for lunch and a bit of rural culture. Bread, pickles, home-produced ham and cheese, all washed down with copious wine, on a hot day, under the shade of a walnut tree - a memorable, and unexpected treat.

For the rest of the afternoon, everyone was free to do their own thing - swimming, shopping, and in my case a walk along the Rilke path, where a male Sardinian warbler put on a superb show. I managed to confirm the Orphean warbler, which was still singing away furiously, like a loud, fluty blackcap with the tone and repetition of a song thrush. It also had a good line in mimicry, especially of great tit, and remained there for the rest of our stay, giving everyone the chance to hear and see (albeit briefly) this rather local species. After dinner, we all regrouped to hear tales of the day - everyone seemed highly satisfied. Wildlife sightings included a brown hare from the train, a dead rat in a Venetian canal, a white-winged black tern over the lagoon, and a dead conger eel in the sea. I then went back to the Rilke path to try and find a few moths, and had a very close torchlight encounter with a stone marten.

Saturday 7 June: pre-Alps
The pre-breakfast walkers had wonderful views, down to one metre, of crested tits, and a group of about seventy cormorants gathered around the mussel beds. Then it was up the autostrada to the hazy pre-Alps, north of Udine. Our first stop, under a rock crag, at first appeared fruitless, until eagle (owl)-eyed Frank spotted just that, a nearly fledged eagle owlet watching us watching it. The almost-dry river Tagliamento, a huge expanse of water-worn boulders harboured a common sandpiper, and a black kite drifted over. Nearby, at the griffon vulture reestablishment site, there were ten or so free-flying griffons, on and around the pre-release cages, attracted to the corpses provided for their delectation. Some were released birds, others were wild, part of the population from Croatia which has established a post-breeding migration to this site. Other birds were making use of this food supply, notably ravens and black kites, and both common and honey buzzards were seen in flight, together for easy separation. A large hornet buzzed around the assembled group, creating some consternation, before it found its nest hole, and a couple of Italian wall lizards scurried around the wall and picnic tables.

To try and escape the oppressive humidity, we headed into the mountains up the Venzonassa valley, to our lunch stop by the tunnel at the end of the public road. Here, the otherwise ubiquitous chiffchaffs were replaced by Bonelli’s warblers, trilling from the tree tops. The rocky ravine was clothed in rock crane’s-bill and various spleenworts, and a squashed corpse on the road was identified as a Dalmatian wall lizard. Still very much alive, a large green lizard was seen among the roadside vegetation, which included wild columbine, yellow melancholy thistle, and orange lily, almost in flower. A brief diversion onto a steep grassy slope was very worthwhile, the pasture lit up with patches of bloody crane’s-bill, meadow clary and yellow woundwort, topped off with chequered blue and Duke-of-Burgundy butterflies. But, for me, one of the most exciting sights of the holiday was a couple of Apollos; this was real treat as past trips have failed to see this typical, but later-season, alpine butterfly.

Paul then decided to risk the wrath of the forest police, and we continued driving up the track towards the high tops, along roads which are supposed to be used only by locals. However, as we got ever higher, the condition of the track deteriorated, and we soon made the decision to abort, with hindsight a wise move when Paul’s bus developed a fault. Most people then opted for a downhill walk, while we waited for the engines to cool down; our patience was rewarded by the sight of a distant golden eagle soaring over a mountain peak. The walkers also seemed satisfied, with their views of various rose bushes in full bloom, and gloriously diverse meadows, full of spiked rampion and other attractive flowers.

Once back in the lowlands, it was still hot and humid, so an ice-cream stop in Venzone was in order. Although we had little time to explore, it seemed a fascinating town architecturally, the sort of place I was not surprised to learn has removable litter bins and other modern features, because of its frequent use as a film set. Back in Sistiana, it had been hot and sunny all day, and the warm night tempted me out again for a marten hunt. I failed, but managed to catch an ant-lion, of the same species as has recently been discovered on the Suffolk coast, which I kept to show everyone at breakfast.

Sunday 8 June: Ljubljana Bog
Our last visit to Slovenia was to the low, peaty area on the south-western fringes of Ljubljana. In common with elsewhere, it was not as wet as we might have expected, and much of the day was spent driving around to try and find those parts of the site which were in best condition; given the size of the area, this is the only way to see it extensively.

Our first stop, next to a Bosnian refugee camp, was an unprepossessing-looking poplar plantation, with an understorey of elder and nettles. But as soon as we had parked, the air was full of trilling, cicada-like calls, and we had located one of our target birds, river warbler. This is an eastern species, a speciality of the Danube catchment, which has not penetrated westwards into apparently similar habitats in Italy. The song may have been obvious, but seeing them was more problematical, until Peter managed to spot one, singing from a side branch, half way up a tree. Typically of this habitat, golden orioles were also much in evidence, and the roadside ditch also had both banded and beautiful demoiselles fluttering over the water.

The track took us along between the poplars and open marshland, where marsh warblers sang from thickets of willow. A black longhorn beetle Lamia textor crossed our path, and several hawfinches were seen, including feeding young. A lone white stork drifted over, and a barred warbler showed briefly in flight - again, it could not be persuaded to respond to the tape. Even the muddy puddles along the track were of some interest, being visited by broad-bodied chaser dragonflies, and home to numerous toads and tadpoles. When one of the toads was captured and flipped over, its brightly-coloured underside identified it as a yellow-bellied toad.

Next, it was time to search out the more open parts of the site, and eventually we located a suitable lunch stop, by a river, and surrounded by vast, damp hay meadows. Here, marsh grasses and sedges, such as reed canarygrass and galingale, mingled with fen plants like marsh bedstraw and meadowsweet, and hay meadow specialities such as yellow rattle and meadow foxtail. A quail was ‘wetting its lips’ on one side of the river, and at least three corncrakes rasping on the other. Always hard to see, so they proved here, except to Win, who watched one crossing and recrossing the road. Again the tapes were deployed, which served only to bring the callers frustratingly close, while remaining invisible.

We spent the rest of the afternoon searching out the better, wetter bits, with high botanical diversity. Looseflowered orchids were found in the more calcareous areas, cotton-grass where it was more peaty, and Venus’slooking- glass on more disturbed patches. The hoped-for scarlet rosefinches failed to materialise - it appears that the expected colonisation has not consolidated - but the butterflies were excellent. Heath and marbled fritillaries flew with large and grizzled skippers, and, best of all, sooty and large coppers. Two of the latter species, now extinct in Britain apart from a single re-introduction site, included the most vividly copper-orange male. By late afternoon, it was clearly a mayfly emergence day, as swarms of them - all apparently Ephemera danica - made their appearance in dancing formation.

And so back home, through heavy rain, to the once-again sunny coast. After dinner, those who could manage to stay awake listened to me rabbiting on once again about other Honeyguide holiday destinations, and the delights they have to offer. Memories for some, and hopefully encouragement to join us again.

Monday 9 June: Gonars Bog, bee-eater sites and the Rilke path
It dawned clear and sunny, and remained so, getting ever hotter, all day; our last lowland day proved to be exhausting. The first destination was the ‘bog’ at Gonars, again lacking that vital element, water. Nevertheless, the vegetation was still outstanding, with large clumps of Clematis recta, and meadows ablaze with yellow oxeye, wild gladioli and lots of orchids - loose-flowered, tongue, pyramidal, early marsh and marsh helleborine. The few birds of note - marsh warblers and black kites - unfortunately did not include Montagu’s harrier, which usually breed in the area. However, the butterflies were ample compensation, with swallowtail, lesser purple emperor, heath fritillary and the false ringlet, one of Europe’s most threatened butterflies, occupying as it does such vulnerable and isolated wetland sites.

Back on the buses, we went in search of bee-eaters. Near the junction of the rivers Isonzo and Torre, a few were seen and heard, albeit only distantly, and a lesser-grey shrike was spotted by a lucky few. A little meadow nearby was a riot of colour, with yellow flax, Carthusian pink, tuberous pea, clustered bellflower and cut-leaved self-heal, and swallowtail caterpillars were found on various umbellifers.

Lunch was at the peaceful hill of San Antonio at Medea, under the welcome shade of trees, amidst a feast of butterflies, including great-banded grayling, wall, nettle-tree, silver-washed fritillary and clouded yellow. Further on, at a working quarry, we managed to get much better views of four bee-eaters, ranged along a fence, together with a calling crested lark and a carrion (as opposed to the more usual hooded) crow. Still further, we came upon a couple of small cornfields covered in a haze of blue from cornflowers, viper’s bugloss and larkspur. By now, everyone was ready for a break, so after ice creams at Duino milk bar, we had a couple of hours off to shelter and recuperate. But then we were off again, this time to walk the full length of the Rilke path in the cool of the early evening, to savour the views over Duino Castle. In the week since our last venture along the path, Clematis flammula and Teucrium flavum had come into flower; we also saw a Dalmatian algyroides (what an unwieldy name for a little lizard), Sardinian warbler, and several stone martin droppings, full of seeds, by way of confirmation of my earlier sighting. Offshore, we at last connected with the traditional eider flock around the mussel beds, and more unusually a flock of twenty or so common scoter. What they made of the heat - peaking at 35 C - we can only speculate.

After dinner, the intrepid few then went in search of local nightlife once again. A church near Duino was our first stop; around the emerging springs, Daubenton’s bat and a pipistrelle species were hunting, and a few fireflies winking, and then around Duino Castle, a horseshoe bat was detected. In the throes of a major auction, the security guards seemed quite surprised by our activities!

Tuesday 10 June: Carnic Alps
To make the most of the our last full day, many of the group made it out before breakfast. As well as the regular sightings, Keith came upon what was probably a second Orphean warbler, further down the slope and singing a different song. Win saw what she assumed was a hobby over the cliffs, though it was just as (if not more) likely to have been an Eleonora’s falcon. My highlight, in contrast, was the rather baffling sight of a yellow budgie flying in off the sea.

It was a long drive up to the Carnic Alps, leaving behind the sunshine of the coast for the haze and cloud of the mountains. Beyond Tolmezzo, a stop by the road tunnel produced breeding crag martins, and wild sweet- William on the road verge. Then a very spectacular drive up tantalised us with meadows of geraniums, rampions and other flowers - a glorious sight and something to look forward to on the way down. At the top, by the refuge Cason di Lanza, we were at 1550m, and the season had gone back to early spring. Trumpet and spring gentians studded the turf with intense blue, and every rocky patch was a veritable alpine garden. Snowbells took a little more finding, but Jenny eventually succeeded, and their delicate splendour was just reward for the effort. Birds included a large flock of alpine choughs, wheeling acrobatically around the summits, and a lot of species very familiar to us in Britain - redpoll, siskin, treecreeper and lesser whitethroat, along with ring ouzel and a distant golden eagle.

Following lunch, we wandered up the mountain track towards the Austrian border, although at naturalists’ pace, we didn’t get that far: we were waylaid by glorious patches of alpenrose, alpine bartsia, lesser butterfly-orchid, frog orchid and dotted gentian. The end of our walk was by a rock outcrop, surmounted by a flowering auricula, and the ‘fragrantest orchid’ Gymnadenia odoratissima at its base. The return walk still produced some surprises, including the tracks of a pine marten in a mud patch, and, finally, back at the refuge, Paul found just one alpine pasque-flower still in bloom.

And so we began our last drive back to Sistiana, in the most dramatic of surroundings. Forest-clad slopes, capped by rocky peaks and snowbeds, provided the scenic structure, with the detail in our more immediate surroundings. Swathes of laburnum, its yellow flower spikes drooping gracefully into the valleys, gave me an entirely new perspective on this tree: here it looked to much at home, in contrast to the awful yellow scourge of many a British garden. A rock face was covered in saxifrages, campions and stonecrops, and the meadows lower down were just as diverse as we had hoped, some of the most attractive I have ever seen.

A final stop by the river in Paularo, for dipper, redstart and black redstart, last views of the mountains, and it was back to the autostrada and home. A summing-up session after dinner listed 158 birds (the best ever on this tour), 57 butterflies and a whole host of other delights to treasure in our memories; hopefully everyone was well satisfied. I certainly was by this, my first visit to the region.

Wednesday 11 June: departure
An early start for a morning flight. Two new birds were added to the list on the way - Montagu’s harrier and little owl - and even in the airport lounge, the keener members were watching crested larks. As we crossed the tarmac, we picked up a dead fox moth, no doubt the victim of a jet engine, and as the plane taxied along the runway, a marsh harrier was sitting unconcernedly on the verge. And there it remained, as the engines roared and we were carried up and away ...

In the lists below, the localities are identified by the following codes:
S - Sistiana area, including the Rilke path
D - Duino
MD - Medeazza to Duino
LD - Lake Doberdo
N - Nightjar site
M - Monfalcone
C - Carsiana
VR - Val Rosandra
IC - Isola della Cona, and area
G - Gonars Bog
B - Bee-eater sites, and area
P - Pre-Alps
CA - Carnic Alps
T - Trnova Forest
CJ - Cerknisko Jezero
LB - Ljubljana Bog

Of all the major lists, these are the least comprehensive, excluding many ‘weedy’ species, grasses, and things not in flower. English
names are given only where one is used in the books.

Polytrichum commune CJ

Ferns and Allies
Asplenium ruta-muraria wall-rue S MD P CA
A. trichomanes maidenhair spleenwort S MD P CA CJ
A. viride green spleenwort P
Ceterach officinarum rusty-back fern S MD P CA
Dryopteris filix-mas male fern CJ
Equisetum arvense field horsetail IC
E. fluviatile water horsetail CJ
E. hyemale Dutch rush IC LB
E. palustre marsh horsetail G
E. telmateia great horsetail LD IC
Gymnocarpium dryopteris oak fern T
Lycopodium annotinum interrupted club-moss T
Phegopteris connectilis beech fern T
Polypodium vulgare polypody T
Polystichum aculeatum hard shield-fern CJ
P. lonchitis holly fern T

Abies alba silver fir CA T
Juniperus communis juniper S MD N VR P CA
Pinus mugo mugo pine CA T
P. nigra black pine S MD VR T CJ
Taxus baccata yew T CJ

Acer campestre field maple MD
A. monspessulanum Montpelier maple S MD VR
A. monspessulanum x campestre MD
A. pseudoplatanus sycamore T
Cotinus coggygria smoke bush S MD N VR
Pistachia terebinthus turpentine tree S MD
Aegopodium podagraria ground elder B P CA T
Carum carvi caraway T
Crithmum maritimum rock samphire M
Eryngium amethystinum MD LD
Hacquetia epipactis T
Heracleum sphondylium hogweed S
Laserpitium siler T
Myrrhis odorata sweet cicely T
Orlaya grandiflora S MD LD VR B
Peucedanum oreoselinum CJ
P. ostruthium masterwort CA
Sanicula europaea sanicle CJ
Vinca minor lesser periwinkle CJ
Hedera helix ivy S MD
Asarum europaeum asarabacca T CJ
Aristolochia clematitis birthwort LD IC
A. rotunda IC
Vincetoxicum hirundinaria swallow-wort S VR P CA T CJ
Achillea clavennae CA
A. millefolium yarrow S VR
Adenostyles alliariae CA T
Antennaria dioica mountain everlasting CA
Artemisia absinthium wormwood MD
A. alba P
A. campestre field wormwood B
A. verlotiorum Chinese mugwort S
Bellis perennis daisy CJ
Buphthalmum salicifolium yellow ox-eye MD G P
Carduus nutans musk thistle B
Carlina corymbosa T
Centaurea cyanus cornflower B
C. kartschiana S
C. nigrescens P
C. phrygia wig knapweed CA
C. splendens S
C. triumfetti MD LD VR P T
Chondrilla juncea S
Cichorium intybus chicory IC P
Cirsium erysithales yellow melancholy thistle P CA
C. helenioides melancholy thistle P
C. pannonicum VR
Crepis chondrilloides VR
Erigeron annuus IC B
Eupatorium cannabinum hemp-agrimony G LB
Hieracium pilosella mouse-eared hawkweed CJ
Homogyne alpina purple colt’s-foot P CA T
Inula hirta B
I. salicina P
I. viscosa stink aster M
Jurinea mollis VR
Lactuca saligna least lettuce S
Leucanthemum liburnicum MD VR
L. vulgare ox-eye daisy S LB
Mycelis muralis wall lettuce S
Scorzonera austriaca viper’s-grass VR CJ
S. villosa VR
Senecio fluviatilis G
S. ovirense CA
Serratula tinctoria saw-wort CJ
Tolpis barbata S
Tragopogon porrifolius salsify MD
T. tommasini VR
Tussilago farfara colt’s-foot M IC P CA
Xanthium spinosum spiny cocklebur M
Cerinthe minor lesser honeywort CJ
Echium vulgare viper’s-bugloss S MD M B
Myosotis alpestris CA
Omphalodes verna blue-eyed-Mary T
Onosma javorkae S MD VR
Pulmonaria officinalis lungwort T CJ
P. rubra red lungwort T
Symphytum officinale comfrey LB
S. tuberosum tuberous comfrey T
Arabis alpina alpine rock-cress T
A. hirsuta hairy rock-cress S T CJ
A. turrita tower-cress P CA T
Biscutella laevigata P CA
Cakile maritima sea rocket M IC
Cardamine amara large bittercress CA
C. bulbifera coralroot bittercress T
C. enneaphyllos CA T
C. impatiens narrow-leaved bittercress S
C. pentaphylla CJ
C. pratensis lady’s smock CJ
C. trifolia CA T
Diplotaxis tenuifolius perennial wall-rocket M
Erysimum virgatum T
Hesperis candida P
Kernera saxatilis P
Lunaria rediviva perennial honesty B T
Raphanus maritimus sea radish S
Thlaspi alpestre alpine pennycress CA
Campanula carnica P
C. glomerata clustered bellflower B CA CJ
C. patula spreading bellflower LB
C. persicifolia peach-leaved bellflower MD P CJ
C. pyramidalis S VR
C. scheuchzeri CA
C. rapunculoides creeping bellflower CA
C. rapunculus rampion bellflower MD VR B CA
C. rotundifolius harebell P CA T
C. trachelium nettle-leaved bellflower P CJ
Legousia speculum-veneris large Venus’s-looking-glass B CJ LB
Phyteuma betonicifolia P T
P. ovata CA
P. orbiculare round-headed rampion P CA T
P. scorzonerifolium CA
P. spicatum spiked rampion CA T
Humulus lupulus hop M
Lonicera etrusca S MD LD VR
L. japonicum IC
L. periclymenum honeysuckle MD B
L. xylosteum fly honeysuckle T
Sambucus ebulus dwarf elder B
S. nigra elder S VR B P T CJ
S. racemosa red-berried elder T
Viburnum lantana wayfaring tree S CJ
V. opulus guelder rose CJ
Cerastium arvense field mouse-ear CA
Dianthus barbatus sweet-William CA
D. carthusianorum Carthusian pink VR B P
D. sylvestris ssp. tergestinus MD VR
Drypis spinosa ssp. jacquiniana VR
Gypsophila repens P
Lychnis flos-cuculi ragged-Robin CJ
L. viscaria sticky catchfly CA
Petrorhagia saxifraga tunic flower S MD VR P
Silene alba white campion CJ LB
S. dioica red campion CA T
S. italica Italian catchfly S MD VR B P CJ
S. nutans Nottingham catchfly VR CA
S. saxifraga tufted catchfly CA
S. vulgaris bladder campion S M B
Euonymus europaeus spindle S LD
Chenopodium bonus-henricus Good-King-Henry T
Salicornia europaea glasswort M
Helianthemum nummularium rock-rose P CA
H. ovatum S MD VR
Convolvulus cantabricus S MD VR B
Cuscuta campestris S
Cornus mas cornelian cherry S MD LD VR
C. sanguinea dogwood MD LD P
Carpinus betulus hornbeam P CJ
C. orientalis S MD
Corylus avellana hazel MD P CJ
Ostrya carpinifolia hop-hornbeam S MD P
Sedum ochroleucum S
S. telephium orpine S CA
S. sexangulare tasteless stonecrop S MD VR B
Sempervivum tectorum houseleek VR
Bryonia dioica white bryony G
Dipsacus fullonum teasel IC
Knautia arvensis field scabious VR LB
K. drymeia VR
K. illyrica VR CJ
Scabiosa gramuntia P CJ
Erica carnea P T
Rhododendron ferrugineum alpenrose CA
Rhodothamnus chamaecistus T
Vaccinium vitis-idea cowberry CA
Euphorbia amygdaloides wood spurge T
E. chamaesyce VR
E. cyparissias cypress spurge S MD VR G B P CJ
E. fragifera S VR MD
E. lathyrus caper spurge B
E. nicaeensis S VR
E. nutans T
E. palustris marsh spurge CJ
E. verrucosa VR
E. wulfenii large Mediterranean spurge S
Mercurialis ovata T
M. perennis dog’s mercury CJ
Amorpha fruticosa false indigo M IC B
Anthyllis montana ssp. jacquinii mountain kidney-vetch T
A. vulneraria kidney-vetch N VR B P CA
Astragalus danicus purple milk-vetch B
Cercis siliquastrum Judas tree S
Chamacytisus hirsutus MD
C. supinus MD P T
Chamaespartium sagittale winged greenweed MD P T CJ
Cytisus pseudoprocumbens VR
Colutea arborescens bladder senna MD
Coronilla emerus shrubby scorpion-vetch S MD
C. varia crown vetch MD IB B
Dorycnium germanicum MD VR
D. pentaphyllum S
Genista holopetala VR
G. pilosa P
G. radiata VR P
G. sericea VR P
G. tinctoria dyer’s greenweed VR LD P CJ
Hippocrepis comosa horseshoe vetch VR P T
Laburnum alpinum alpine laburnum P CA
L. anagyroides laburnum CA
Lathyrus laevigatus T
L. niger black pea CJ
L. pratensis meadow vetchling P
L. sylvestris narrow-leaved everlasting pea MD
L. tuberosus tuberous pea B
L. venetus T
L. verna spring pea T CJ
Lembotropis nigricans S
Lotus corniculatus bird’s-foot-trefoil CJ
L. tenuis narrow-leaved bird’s-foot-trefoil M
L. uliginosus marsh bird’s-foot-trefoil G
Medicago sativa ssp. falcata sickle medick VR
M. sativa ssp. sativa lucerne MD VR
Melilotus altissima tall melilot P
M. officinalis ribbed melilot S
Onobrychis viciifolia sainfoin VR CA
Ononis spinosa spiny rest-harrow G
Spartium junceum Spanish broom S B
Tetragonolobus maritimus dragon’s-teeth G
Trifolium alpestre mountain zigzag clover VR
T. badium brown clover CA
T. campestre hop-trefoil S
T. incarnatum ssp. molinieri VR
T. montanum mountain clover VR T CJ
T. rubens S MD B
Vicia cracca tufted vetch VR IC T LB
V. hybrida B
V. lutea CJ
V. sativa common vetch VR
V. sepium bush vetch CJ
Fagus sylvatica beech P T CJ
Quercus cerris turkey oak VR
Q. ilex holm oak S P
Q. pubescens white oak S MD VR B CJ
Q. robur pedunculate oak MD
Fumaria officinalis fumitory S MD
Gentiana alpina CA
G. asclepiadea willow gentian CA
G. clusii trumpet gentian P CA T
G. punctata dotted gentian CA
G. verna spring gentian CA T
Geranium dissectum cut-leaved crane’s-bill S CJ
G. macrorrhizum rock crane’s-bill P
G. molle dove’s-foot crane’s-bill S
G. nodosum knotted crane’s-bill T CJ
G. phaeum dusky crane’s-bill CA
G. purpureum little-Robin S
G. robertianum herb-Robert P T
G. sanguineum bloody crane’s-bill VR P T
G. sylvaticum wood crane’s-bill CA
Globularia cordifolia P CA T CJ
Hypericum perforatum perforate St. John’s-wort B
Hippuris vulgaris mare’s-tail LD
Acinos alpinus alpine basil-thyme P CA T
A. arvensis basil-thyme B
Ajuga genevensis P CA
A. pyramidalis pyramidal bugle CA
A. reptans bugle VR
Glechoma hederacea ground-ivy T
Lamiastrum galaeobdolon yellow archangel CJ
Lamium maculatum spotted dead-nettle S CJ
L. orvala T CJ
Melittis melissophyllum bastard-balm MD VR T CJ
Mentha aquatica water mint CJ
M. longifolia horse mint P
Micromeria thymifolia MD
Origanum vulgare marjoram MD
Prunella laciniata cut-leaved self-heal B
P. vulgaris self-heal CJ
Salvia nemorosa wild sage S
S. pratensis meadow clary S MD N VR B P T CJ LB
Satureja variegata S VR
Stachys alopecuros P
S. officinalis betony VR P T CJ LB
S. recta yellow woundwort S MD VR B
Teucrium chamaedrys wall germander S
T. flavum yellow germander S MD
T. montanum mountain germander MD LD N VR
Thymus longicaulis wild thyme VR T
Pinguicula alpina alpine butterwort CA T
P. vulgaris butterwort CA
Linum catharticum purging flax VR
L. nodiflorum yellow flax B
L. tenuifolium MD N VR B
l. tommassini T
Althaea officinalis marsh mallow IC
Malva neglecta dwarf mallow MD
M. sylvestris common mallow S
Ficus carica fig S
Nymphaea alba white water-lily IC
Fraxinus excelsior ash P T
F. ornus manna ash S MD VR
Ligustrum vulgare wild privet LD B
Phillyrea latifolia S
Orobanche caryophyllacea bedstraw broomrape G
O. flava yellow broomrape G
O. gracilis G B
O. lutea VR
Oxalis acetosella wood sorrel CA
Chelidonium majus greater celandine M
Papaver rhoeas common poppy S CJ
Passiflora caerulea passion-flower S
Plantago holostea CA T
P. lanceolata ribwort plantain S
P. media hoary plantain MD VR P
Polygala alpestris alpine milkwort CA
P. chamaebuxus shrubby milkwort CA
P. comosa tufted milkwort T
P. nicaeensis VR P CJ
Oxyria digyna mountain sorrel CA
Polygonum viviparum alpine bistort CA
Reynoutria japonica Japanese knotweed LB
Rumex alpinus monk’s rhubarb CA
Androsace alpina alpine rock-jasmine T
Cyclamen purpurascens sowbread T CJ
Primula auricula auricula CA T
P. elatior oxlip T
P. spectabilis spactacular primrose T
P. veris cowslip T
P. vulgaris primrose VR CJ
Soldanella alpina alpine snowbell CA
Aconitum napellus monk’s-hood CA T
A. vulparia wolf’s-bane CA T
Actaea spicata baneberry T
Anemone nemorosa wood anemone T CJ
A. trifolia CA
Aquilegia atrata CJ
A. nigricans CJ
A. vulgaris columbine P T
Caltha palustris marsh marigold LD CJ LB
Clematis alpina alpine clematis CA T
C. flammula maiden’s bower S MD P
C. recta IC G P
C. vitalba traveller’s joy MD T
C. viticella S M IC B
Consolida regalis forking larkspur B
Helleborus multifidus T
H. niger Christmas rose T CJ
Hepatica nobilis hepatica T CJ
Isopyrum thalictroides T
Pulsatilla alpina alpine pasque-flower CA
Ranunculus aconitifolius CA T
R. acris meadow buttercup CJ
R. flammula lesser spearwort LB
R. platanifolius T
Thalictrum aquilegifolium greater meadow-rue T CJ
Trollius europaeus globe-flower CA
Reseda lutea mignonette S M
Frangula alnus alder buckthorn G
F. rupestris S MD VR
Paliurus spina-christi Christ’s-thorn S MD LD B
Rhamnus saxatilis rock buckthorn VR
Amelanchier ovalis snowy mespilus VR T
Aremonia agrimonioides bastard agrimony T
Aruncus dioicus goatsbeard spiraea CA T CJ
Crataegus monogyna hawthorn S MD P T
Dryas octopetala mountain avens CA
Filipendula ulmaria meadowsweet G CJ LB
F. vulgaris dropwort MD VR G CJ
Fragaria moschata P T CJ
F. vesca wild strawberry B P
Geum montanum CA
G. urbanum wood avens CJ
Potentilla anserina silverweed CJ
P. aurea CA
P. crantzii alpine cinquefoil CA
P. erecta tormentil P CJ
P. recta sulphur cinquefoil MD
Prunus mahaleb St. Lucie’s cherry S VR B
Pyracantha coccinea S
Pyrus communis wild pear CJ
Rosa canina dog rose S LD P CJ
R. glauca P
R. pendulina alpine rose P CA T CJ
R. pimpinellifolia burnet rose T
R. sempervirens S MD
Sanguisorba major great burnet CJ
S. minor salad burnet S VR
Sorbus aria whitebeam P T
S. aucuparia rowan T
S. domestica true service-tree CJ
Spiraea chamaedryfolia P
Galium cruciata crosswort CA LB
G. lucidum shining bedstraw S MD VR
G. palustre marsh bedstraw LB
G. saxosum CA
G. tricornutum corn cleavers S
G. verum lady’s bedstraw MD G T CJ LB
Rubia peregrina wild madder S
Dictamnus albus burning-bush S MD VR
Ruta graveolens rue MD VR
Osyris alba S MD
Thesium alpinum CA
T. bavaricum P
T. humifusum bastard-toadflax VR
Populus alba white poplar MD
P. nigra black poplar LD
Salix arbuscula mountain willow CA
S. daphnoides violet willow P
S. fragilis crack willow LD
Chrysosplenium oppositifolium opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage T
Saxifraga cochlearis P CA
S. cuneifolia CA T
S. rotundifolius round-leaved saxifrage T
S. squarrosa CA
Antirrhinum majus snapdragon S
Bartsia alpina alpine bartsia CA
Digitalis grandiflora large yellow foxglove CA
Melampyrum carstiense S MD
Paederota lutea yellow paederota T
Pedicularis comosa T
Rhinanthus angustifolius greater yellow-rattle T
R. freynii VR G CA T CJ
R. minor yellow-rattle P LB
Scrophularia canina alpine figwort VR
Verbascum nigrum dark mullein P T
V. phoeniceum purple mullein LD
V. thapsus great mullein S
Veronica austriaca large speedwell T
V. bellidioides CA
V. catenata pink water-speedwell P
V. chamaedrys germander speedwell CJ
Ailanthus altissima tree-of-Heaven S
Solanum dulcamara woody nightshade S
Staphylaea pinnata bladder-nut CJ
Tamarix gallica tamarisk IC
Daphne alpina VR
D. laureola spurge-laurel T
D. mezereum mezereon CA T
Tilia cordata small-leaved lime P
Celtis australis nettle-tree MD
Ulmus glabra wych elm MD
U. minor small-leaved elm IC
Parietaria officinalis pellitory-of-the-wall S
Urtica galaeopsifolia stingless nettle CA
Valeriana dioica marsh valerian CJ LB
V. montana CA
V. officinalis valerian IC G T LB
V. tripteris CA
Viola arvensis field pansy S CJ
V. biflora CA T
V. elatior CJ
V. lutea mountain pansy CA
V. reichenbachiana early dog violet T

Alisma plantago-aquatica water-plantain CJ
Leucojum aestivum summer snowflake LD VR CJ LB
Narcissus poeticus var. radiiflorus T
Carex acuta slender tufted sedge CJ
C. acutiformis lesser pond sedge LD
C. elata tufted sedge IC
C. extensa long-bracted sedge IC
C. flava yellow sedge CJ LB
C. hirta hairy sedge LB
C. otrubae false fox sedge IC M LB
C. panicea glaucous sedge CJ
C. riparia greater pond sedge LB
C. vesicaria bladder sedge CJ
Cladium mariscus saw-sedge G
Cyperus longus galingale LB
Eleocharis palustris spike-rush CJ
Eriophorum latifolium broad-leaved cotton-grass LB
Schoenus nigricans black bog-rush CJ
Scirpus holoschoenus round-headed club-rush G
S. lacustris bulrush CJ
S. maritimus sea club-rush IC
S. sylvaticus wood club-rush CA
S. tabernaemontani glaucous bulrush MD IC LB
Trichophorum cespitosum deer-grass G
Tamus communis black bryony S B CJ
Crocus vernus CA
Gladiolus communis CJ
G. palustris G
Iris graminea T
I. pallida ssp. illyrica VR
I. pseudacorus yellow flag LD IC
I. sibirica T
Luzula campestris field woodrush MD
L. nivea snowy woodrush P T
L. sylvatica great woodrush CA
Triglochin palustris marsh arrow-grass G
Allium schoenoprasum chives S
A. sphaerocephalon round-headed leek S
A. ursinum ramsons T
A. vineale crow garlic IC
Asparagus acutifolius S MD
A. tenuifolius S MD VR P
Colchicum autumnale meadow saffron LB
Convallaria majalis lily-of-the-valley CA T CJ
Fritillaria tenella VR
Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus day-lily IC
Lilium bulbiferum orange lily VR P T CJ
L. carniolicum VR T
L. martagon martagon lily T CJ
Maianthemum bifolia may lily T
Muscari comosum tassel hyacinth MD VR
Ornithogalum comosum star-of-Bethlehem VR
O. pyrenaicum Bath asparagus MD IC
Paris quadrifolia herb-Paris T
Polygonatum odoratum scented Solomon’s-seal VR P T CJ
P. verticillatum whorled Solomon’s-seal T
Ruscus aculeatus butcher’s-broom S
Veratrum album white false helleborine CA T
V. nigrum T
Anacamptis pyramidalis pyramidal orchid MD G P
Cephalanthera longifolia sword-leaved helleborine T
Coeloglossum viride frog orchid CA
Dactylorhiza cordigera CJ
D. incarnata early marsh-orchid G CJ LB
D. maculata heath spotted-orchid CA T CJ
D. sambucina elder-flowered orchid CA
Epipactis atrorubens dark-red helleborine P
E. palustris marsh helleborine G
Gymnedenia conopsea fragrant orchid VR T CJ
G. odoratissima CA
Listera ovata twayblade CJ
Neottia nidus-avis bird’s-nest orchid MD CJ
Ophrys apifera bee orchid LD VR
Orchis laxiflora loose-flowered orchid G CJ LB
O. nascula early purple-orchid T
O. militaris military orchid T
O. pallens pale orchid T
O. ustulata burnt-tip orchid CJ
Platanthera bifolia lesser butterfly-orchid CA
Serapias vomeracea tongue orchid G
Traunsteineria globosa round-headed orchid T
Aegilops geniculata S
Alopecurus pratensis meadow fox-tail LB
Anthoxanthum odoratum sweet vernal-grass MD
Arrhenatherum elatius false oat-grass CJ LB
Briza media quaking grass LB
Chrysopogon gryllus MD
Dactylis glomerata cock’s-foot MD LB
Festuca heterophylla VR
Holcus lanatus Yorkshire fog MD
Melica ciliata S
M. nutans nodding melick P
Milium effusum wood millet P
Phalaris arundinacea reed canary-grass IC LB
Phleum pratense timothy LB
Phragmites australis common reed LD IC G CJ LB
Poa alpina alpine meadow-grass CA
Setaria viridis M
Stipa eriocaulis ssp. austriaca feather grass VR
Smilax aspera S MD
Typha angustifolia lesser reedmace IC
T. latifolia greater reedmace IC

Armillaria mellea honey fungus CJ

Cepaea nemoralis banded snail IC
Helix aspersa garden snail S IC
H. pomatia Roman snail T LB

Hirudo medicinalis medicinal leech CJ

Agelena sp. funnel-web spider G
Araniella cucurbitina cucumber spider P
Eresus niger ladybird spider VR
Pisaura mirabilis VR

Glomeris (connexa?) red pill-millipede VR

Aphodius sp. chafer CJ
Cetonia aurata rose chafer VR
C. cuprea VR
Coccinella septempunctata seven-spotted ladybird B
Lampyris noctiluca glow-worm S LD
Lamia textor LB
Luciola lusitanica firefly D LD
Oedemera nobilis S
Oxythyrea funesta flower chafer VR B
Trichodes apiarius IC
Mantis religiosa praying mantis VR
Bombylis major bee-fly CJ
Ephemera danica LB
Aquarius najas pond-skater LD
Cercopis vulnerata IC LB
Coreus marginatus squash bug G
Graphosoma italicum VR LB
Bombus lapidarius red-tailed bumble bee VR
Formica rufa wood ant CA
Polistes sp. paper wasp IC G
Vespa crabro hornet LD G P LB
Xylocopa violacea carpenter bee MD LD
Lepidoptera - Butterflies
swallowtail S G B(caterpillars)
scarce swallowtail S VR
Apollo P
red admiral G P T
southern white admiral LD
lesser purple emperor G
painted lady VR G P
small tortoiseshell S MD VR CA CJ LB
comma MD CJ
peacock S MD G
high brown fritillary MD LD VR P
silver-washed fritillary B
Glanville fritillary LD VR T
twin-spot fritillary VR
Nickerl’s fritillary VR
marbled fritillary LB
heath fritillary VR G P LB
false heath fritillary VR
nettle-tree MD B
great banded grayling MD VR B
speckled wood MD LD VR G B P
meadow brown MD VR G B P LB
bright-eyed ringlet VR P CA T CJ
dewy ringlet CA
false ringlet G
wall B
large wall S MD LD VR P
small heath MD VR T CJ LB
pearly heath MD VR G T
marbled white MD VR G B P
large white S VR G CJ
small white S VR G B CJ LB
green-veined white CA T (dark alpine form)
orange tip P T CJ LB
wood white MD VR G P
black-veined white VR P
clouded yellow VR B
brimstone LD VR G B P CJ
Duke-of-Burgundy P
brown argus MD VR
common blue S MD VR LB
silver-studded blue VR
Adonis blue S MD LD VR G P
Idas blue P
chequered blue P
Mazarine blue MD T CJ
small blue LD VR
baton blue VR
holly blue S
sooty copper LB
large copper LB
large skipper LB
small skipper VR G B
Essex skipper VR
dingy skipper CJ
chequered skipper T
grizzled skipper G LB
(alpine?) grizzled skipper P
Lepidoptera - Moths
Yponomeuta cagnagella S LD C (caterpillars)
Nemophora scabiosella VR
Crambus perlella IC CJ
Nymphula nymphaeata IC
six-spotted burnet MD VR P
transparent burnet VR P
Zygaena carniolica VR
common forester VR
scarce forester VR
Syntomis marjana VR
pine processionary S IC (caterpillars and ‘nests’)
fox moth P(caterpillar) Venice airport
hummingbird hawk-moth MD VR
cream-spot tiger VR
clouded buff LB
vapourer S
figure of eight VR(caterpillar)
common carpet CJ
fern S
July belle VR
Rhodostrophia calabra MD VR
small fan-footed wave S
speckled yellow MD LD VR G B
tissue LD
burnet companion MD VR P CJ
burnished brass LB
clay fan-foot S
fan-foot S
large yellow underwing S
mullein moth LD (caterpillar)
scarce blackneck S
shaded fan-foot S
silver-Y CJ
Panorpa communis scorpion fly CJ
Euroleon nostras ant-lion S
Libelloides macaronius ascalaphid S MD
Aeshna cyanea southern hawker M G P CJ
Anax parthenope southern emperor M
Calopteryx splendens banded demoiselle LB
C. virgo beautiful demoiselle G LB
Coenagrion puella azure damselfly MD G CJ LB
Enallagma cyathigerum common blue damselfly LB
Ischnura elegans blue-tailed damselfly IC CJ
Libellula depressa broad-bodied chaser LB
L, fulva scarce chaser G LB
L. quadrimaculata four-spotted chaser CJ
Decticus verrucivorus wart-biter MD VR
Gryllus campestris field cricket S MD VR CJ LB
Locusta migratoria migratory locust MD LD
Metrioptera roeselii Roesel’s bush-cricket MD VR
Paracinema tricolor ? MD
Pholidoptera griseoaptera dark bush-cricket T LB
Polysarcus denticauda MD
Ruspolia nitidula G
Tettigonia viridissima great green bush-cricket S

eel CJ
conger eel S

alpine newt CA
smooth newt C
common toad CJ
yellow-bellied toad LB
common tree frog CJ
marsh frog LD IC CJ LB
pool frog CJ

Dalmatian algyroides S
green lizard VR P
viviparous lizard CA
common wall lizard P
Italian wall lizard S D P
Dalmatian wall lizard VR P
European whip snake T

western hedgehog S
mole CJ LB (molehills)
pipistrelle sp. S D LD
Daubenton’s bat D LD
whiskered/Brandt’s bat LD
horseshoe bat sp. D
brown hare from the train to Venice
red squirrel S
brown rat Venice
mouse/vole sp. T
red fox D
pine marten CA (tracks)
stone marten S
wild boar CJ (rootings)
roe deer VR