Gilfenklamm in South Tyrol (Bolzano-Bozen, Italy)
The Gilfenklamm is a narrow little mini-gorge cut in to what the marketing material calls "pure white marble". Don't expect to see anything white. but the natural beauty of the place is wonderful. Park down in the parking areas in Ratschings (Bolzano, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy) and follow the signs to the gorge. As you leave town you will need to pay €3 per adult to carry on up the trail.
The first part of the trail takes one through a gently sloping Spruce woodland, along the stream. This is a good area for Short-toed Tree Creeper, Goldcrests, Crested Tit and White-throated Dipper. A common kingfisher surprising buzzed by yesterday while we were on this section of the trail.
Further up the trail, the gorge starts to get tighter. This is a great area for White-throated Dippers - with some luck you should see them all the way up the gorge as they buzz up and down, feeding and swimming (I swear they also do that for fun).
As the gorge gets a little tighter, you will notice that there are a whole lot more Larch about. Unlike the Norwegian Spruce, the European Larch has needles and looks like a regular conifer, but in early winter turns bright orange and looses all its needles! In these mixed Spruce/Larch woodlands, I would look out for Green Woodpecker (especially near woodland clearings) and Common Crossbill.
The tighter gorge part itself might host a wallcreeper, particularly in early or very late winter as wallcreepers are moving between their high mountain breeding cliffs and the lower-elevation wintering areas. But I would not hold out too much hope to regularly pick up a wallcreeper in Gilfenklamm.
But I have to admit that the main reason to visit Gilfenklamm is because I love waterfalls and tight gorges, so this fitted right in there. The constant companion of dippers made it all the more wonderful.
Best time to go: late Autumn / early Winter (the colours of the Larch are great)
Interesting bird species: White-throated Dipper, Common Crossbill, Green Woodpecker.
How to get there: go to the google map, click on the first P(arking) symbol and say "to here". type in your starting location and google maps will do it all for you. Ratschings/Racines is about 46mins from Innsbruck, and 53mins from Bolzano.
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