It is Independence day today in Slovenia and we have one final trip planned. Back to the Soca Valley to meet Davids friend Rudi and a group of Slovenian butterfly enthusiasts.
First thing to note was that they take to the hills like mountain goats leaving us in disbelief at the scree slopes and precipices we need to get over before we even catch them.
As we walked along the mountain path they swooped their nets and caught and huddled around one after another butterfly. Their was a definite hierarchy to the group, choice catches were taken to Rudi, who dictated the species, sex and location into his dictaphone. Another took the GPS reading by mobile phone and another the picture of the habitat and likely food plants.
In search of the elusive Apollo we moved to a nearby village where Rudi reported hundreds two years ago. We were disappointed, one solitary Apollo fluttered across and everyone waved their nets.
Meeting a local farmer provided a likely answer. Two years ago they had hundreds of goats grazing the slopes but now we could see the last ten lying in the shade. Rudi explained how the longer ungrazed grass outcompetes the Sedum, food of Apollo, and the result is a sadly depleted habitat/assemblage.
A serious kerfuffle at a point along the stony path resulted in the picture below. Borut, one of our party had found what he assured us was a none poisonous Ladder snake almost five feet long. The rest of the party are behind me while I took this picture.
And sadly that’s it, we are now in the car driving back to Ljubjana and eventually the airport. Thanks David for a holiday money cannot buy, an expert guide who showed us, from 23 previous visits of experience, the best habitats, species, vantage points, landscapes, walks, restaurants and how to always order beer as draught ” tocheno pivo”.