The group of mountains known with the name of Catinaccio in Italian and Rosengarten in German hosts some of the best scenaries of the Dolomites. The highest peak reaches the 3,002 m, but probably the most photogenic rocks are the Torri del Violet (2,821 m), 7 pinnacles of vertical dolomite. The area arround the range includes a number of valleys and slopes with screes, alpine meadows and conifer woodlands with an interesting biodiversity.
I led in the Catinaccio two different Naturetrek tours in July, one focused on flora and one on butterflies, but, during both the excursions, I did a rather generalistic bio-watching, encountering very interesting subjects.
The trails and the “rifugio” are usually very busy in summer, so it’s not easy at all to spot mammals: we had only a couple of Chamois, one Roe Deer and some Alpine Marmots.
Birding can be more fruitful: the larch and spruce woodlands are plenty of finches (Siskins, Crossbills, Bullfinches, etc), tits (Crested, Willow and Coal) and Spotted Nutcrackers (Nucifraga caryocatactes), while Lesser Redpolls, Alpine Choughs and Lesser Whitethroats are frequente above tree line, in the Dwarf Mountainpine (Pinus mugo) maquis and rocky habitats.
Flora is interesting as well in the Catinaccio, with the presence of some orchids (Frog, Small White, Short-spurred Fragrant and Marsh Fragrant), but also many other gorgeous flowers like: Hairy Alpenrose (Rhododendron hirsutum), One-flowered Wintergreen (Moneses uniflora), Alpine Butterwort (Pinguicula alpina), Mountain Clematis (Clematis montana), Water Avens (Geum rivale), Alpine Rose (Rosa pendulina), Pink Cinquefoil (Potentilla nitida), Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum), Alpine Toadflax (Linaria alpina), Alpine Poppy (Papaver alpinum) and Herb-paris (Paris quadrifolia).
Catinaccio is a great place also for butterflies, with quite a few alpine species. During the two visits I had: Dark-veined White (Pieris bryoniae), Mountain Clouded Yellow (Colias phicomone), Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxes allous), Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus), Chalk-hill Blue (Lysandra coridon), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Shepherd’s Fritillary (Boloria pales), Mountain Fritillary (Boloria napaea), Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja), Woodland Ringlet (Erebia medusa), Blind Ringlet (Erebia pharte), Silky Ringlet (Erebia gorge), Large Ringlet (Erebia euryale), Alpine Heath (Coenonympha gardetta), Alpine Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus andromedae) and Olive Skipper (Pyrgus serratulae).