Bugwoman on Location – The Meadows of Obergurgl

IMG_3178Dear Readers, one of the glories of Obergurgl is the meadows that surround it. I have never been to a place with such a variety of plants, and because the growing season is so short here, everything seems to burst into flower at once.

Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris)

Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris)

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Hairy Thyme (Thymus praecox)

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Golden Cinquefoil (Potentilla aurea)

All the flowers above were growing in full sun. In the shady areas, the flora is completely different.

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Wood Cranesbill (Geranium sylvaticum) and Umbellifer (possibly Wild Angelica)

Need I say that the meadows are full of insects? I have never seen such a diversity of butterflies and day-flying moths, flies and beetles. Insecticides are not used here, and the meadows are so steep and awkwardly shaped that most are still cut down by sickle, usually in mid-July. The sheer number of species of plants and animals speaks volumes for such a regime. I have a dream that one day our road verges and roundabouts, field edges and derelict land, will be as welcoming and varied as these fields. Enough with the monoculture and the Round-up, I say.

Orange-tip butterfly - a familiar face!

Orange-tip butterfly – a familiar face!

As we headed uphill, I noticed a tumbledown shed.

IMG_3202But what was this emerging from underneath?

IMG_3200I am not sure if there are honeybee hives in the shed, or if this is a wild swarm that has made itself at home. Either way, these insects will have a varied and interesting diet for the next few months.

And not all the cattle in this area are Tyrolean Greys.

IMG_3188One of the local farmers keeps a small herd of Highland Cattle. He started about ten years ago with three cows, and now has about fifteen animals, including some of this year’s calves. This breed is admirably suited to the cold weather, and seem to be coping quite happily with the very un-Alpine heatwave that we’ve had for the past few days.

IMG_3189So, after a somewhat sweaty but extremely enjoyable walk, we ended up at the Sahnestuberl, a rustic mountain hut whose name means ‘cream-making house’. And while I generally disapprove of people taking photos of their food when they could be eating it before it gets cold, I hope you’ll forgive me just this once…

Apricot cake with cream. Still warm from the oven...

Apricot cake with cream. Still warm from the oven…

And while I was tucking into my cake, a butterfly was feeding from the salt on the handle of my walking pole. It’s nice to know that someone else is benefiting from all that toiling uphill.

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