Alpine wildlife in the Passo Pordoi

With 2,239 m of altitudes the Pordoi pass is one of the most known pass in the Dolomites (Dolomiti) and connects Arabba with the Val di Fassa. It is a typical climb of the “Giro d’Italia”, the famous Italian cyclism race, but can be also a great place where taste the best of alpine wildlife.

The beginning of summer is probably the best time of year to go there:

when I visit the area most of the plants were in full blooming, with hundreds of alpine species including King of Alps (Erithrichium nanum), Edelweiss (Leontopodium nivale), Spotted Gentian (Gentiana punctata), Least Snowbell (Soldanella minima), Yellow Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla alpina apiifolia), Bluish Paederota (Paederota bonarota) and Pink Cinquefoil (Potentilla nitida).


The landscapes around were breathtaking with the huge cliffs of the Piz Boé (3,152 m), the alpine meadows, scattered larches and, in the distance, the glacier of the Marmolada, just below Punta Penia (3,343 m), the highest peak of the Dolomites.


I observed there 3 species of mammals: Alpine Marmot (Marmota marmota), Alpine Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) and Mouflon (Ovis orientalis musimon), but none of them was very approachable, unfortunately.


Also birds were mainly pretty shy and hard to photograph, with the only important exception of Snow Finches (Montifringilla nivalis). Other interesting species observed were Alpine Swift (Apus melba), Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus alpestris) and Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret).


Orchids were also well represented with the presence of Red Vanilla Orchid (Gymnadenia rubra), Dark Vanilla Orchid (Gymnadenia rhellicani), Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea), Frog Orchid (Coeloglossum viride), Small White Orchid (Pseudorchis albida) and Round-headed Orchid (Traunsteinera globosa).


With butterflies, the weather was rather cool, so I couldn’t find a lot of species, but they were all typically alpine: Geranium Argus (Eumedonia eumedon), Alpine Blue (Albulina orbitulus), Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus), Shepherd’s Fritillary (Boloria pales), Eriphyle Ringlet (Erebia eriphyle), Blind Ringlet (Erebia pharte), Dewy Ringlet (Erebia pandrose) and Wood Tiger Moth (Parasemia plantaginis).


Luca Boscain


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