17th – 24th April 2005

Tour Leaders

Mike & Liz Read

With almost a whole week of winds blowing cold and fairly steadily from the northeast, it was apparent that migration was a little behind schedule and many of the plants were a week or two behind as well. Having said that, Corsica did not disappoint; it really is a superb location to visit at this time of year!

We ended up with 105 bird species, a really impressive plant list thanks to Liz and, bearing in mind the cold weather, a fair list of butterflies and other groups.

Needless to say, the food and wine were of the highest order and the Corsican hospitality warm, friendly and most convivial. We hope you enjoyed the tour and we look forward to seeing you again on a future tour.

Mike & Liz Read

Daily Diary

Sunday 17th April

We met at Gatwick in plenty of time and were eventually bussed out to our ‘plane under clear blue skies. The flight departed on time and we were soon flying over France and enjoying (?) BA’s ‘All Day Deli’! We landed on time at Marseille and spent some time watching for birds but found little except House Sparrows. As we taxied for take-off towards Corsica, a couple of Magpies were seen.

On arrival at Bastia airport, we paused to view one of 3 or 4 Common Kestrels but were immediately moved on by security staff. After arranging the vehicle hire, we set off towards Corte in the middle of Corsica. Some way up through the Golo Valley, we paused at the side of the river and were soon looking at 3 or 4 Crag Martins. As we began to drive onwards, a further 12–15 birds flew up from a cliff on the opposite side of the road. Between Ponte Leccia and Corte, we paused to view our first Red Kite of the trip and immediately saw 2 more plus many Hooded Crows and 4 Common Ravens.

As time was pressing (and dinner was calling!) we headed on towards our hotel which we reached in fair time and we were soon enjoying the delights of a fine Corsican dinner.

Monday 18th April

Before breakfast we walked up the road to see what birds could be found among the riverside conifers and other trees. A couple of close Cirl Buntings gave good views and a couple of Grey Wagtails were seen on the roadside. A couple of Common Ravens flew high overhead, as did a group of 4 Woodpigeons. 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a few Jays as well as Coal, Great and Blue Tits were among the pines with all except the latter being Corsican endemic sub-species. The final good bird of the walk was an adult Golden Eagle which flew high over our heads mobbed by a couple of Common Ravens.

During a brief stop at the supermarket, from where some clients saw a couple of Common Swifts, we drove to a lay-by to the south of Corte. Birds seen included Blackcap, Great & Blue Tits, 2 Common Buzzards plus another 2, possibly 3 Golden Eagles. Large and Wood White butterflies were also seen as were many plants including Narrow-leaved Lupin and Mediterranean Sweet Briar. We drove further south to the Pont du Vecchio and turned into the Verjellu Valley. A brief stroll near the start of the valley produced Chaffinch, Chiffchaff and Crag Martins as well as Common Blue and Green Hairstreak butterflies. Other stops produced a Peregrine and very distant views of at least 80 Alpine Choughs.

We had our picnic lunch at the ‘top’ of the valley during which we had excellent views of 5 Common Crossbills and a large Tortoiseshell Butterfly. Also found here were endemic Corsican Crocuses. As everyone was feeling a little cool by this time we left the valley and drove a little further south before a coffee stop. We decided on a visit to some woodlands near the Col de Vizzavona but as we approached the area rain began to fall quite heavily onto the deep snow lying around. Walking here was out of the question, as we couldn’t even find the lay-by to park in!

Following a fairly swift return to Corte we decided to drive eastwards on the N200 and make a loop via minor roads back to town. Near an equestrian centre we paused to admire Italian Sparrows and Corn Buntings and also found a good display of Polyanthus Narcissus. We drove further on and parked up to walk out to the river and here we were immediately greeted by a singing Cetti's Warbler while on a nearby derelict house roof numerous Pink Butterfly Orchids were growing.

Back at Corte we paused to buy picnic extras for the following day and saw a few Goldfinches, a couple of Serins, and a Red Kite to complete the days watching.

Tuesday 19th April

Our pre-breakfast stroll saw us looking at the Corsican races of Great and Coal Tits, Jay and Blackcap. A Common Buzzard was seen perched in a tree and a Common Raven was seen carrying a large item of food in its beak.

After breakfast we began our journey towards the Asco Valley and during a pause to look at a Peregrine, we added 3 Red Kites, at least 20 Ravens, a few Spotless Starlings and we heard a Wryneck.

Just beyond Ponte Leccia we turned into the Asco Valley and a short way in we crossed the road to some fields where Green-veined and Pink Butterfly Orchids were growing. At some open fields we paused to watch some Spotless Starlings and a Whinchat but then added 4 Citril Finches, a Serin, a couple of Red Kites and two very close Woodlarks. However the best find at this particular location was 2 Rock Sparrows. We made our way up to the Haute Asco car park with pauses to admire more Corsican Crocuses and Corsican Hellebore. However the car park was surrounded by snow and there was a very cold wind blowing. Despite the magnificent views and a few Alpine Choughs to be seen, many people had their picnic in the minibuses.

As there was too much snow to take our usual high level walk we descended a short way to some mature Corsican Pine forest and on finding a group of Coal Tits constant checking eventually revealed a pair of Corsican Nuthatches.

We descended to the fields, which had been so productive earlier and now found 3 Rock Sparrows and at least 15 Citril Finches. The 2 Woodlarks were there again, a couple of Hooded Crows were mobbing a Raven which may have strayed too close to their nest and 2 Red Kites flew over the distant trees.

This latter species was again well seen in Ponte Leccia when during a coffee stop a superb adult Red Kite flew very low over the town. We then returned to le Refuge Hotel in good time for dinner.

Wednesday 20th April

Our pre-breakfast walk began with a quick drive to the edge of Corte. From here we walked to the bridge overlooking the Restonica River. Around the gardens there were many Blackcaps; this suggested an overnight arrival of migrants. Greenfinches, Goldfinches and a couple of Serins were also seen in some back gardens along with numerous Italian Sparrows around the buildings themselves. A brief search along the river produced good views of Grey Wagtail and a Dipper standing motionless on a rock. We returned to the hotel gazing at the massed ranks of Borage as we went and after breakfast we drove up the Restonica Valley towards the high ground. A couple of short walks produced sightings of Common Buzzard, Jay and a few of the other usual species but none of the hoped for Nuthatches. Liz’s delight was to ensure that everyone had at least one good whiff of the rather awful smelling Santolina. She feels it’s her duty……

The weather was certainly somewhat chilly (“) and this maybe the reason that Chez Caesar, our usual coffee stop/restaurant, was closed. We decided to head up to the high ground but the rain which has now started falling turns to snow as we gain height. We cannot even reach the car park due to snow on the road. We retreat!

Coffees in Corte raised the spirits a little and somehow the clouds seemed to lift a little as well. Out on the N200 we stop by the aerodrome and see a few House and Crag Martins a Common Kestrel and a couple of Common Swifts. Further on our Common Swift total rises rapidly when well in excess of 200 circle around over a nearby hilltop. On a field where cattle grazed we also found a couple of Northern Wheatears, 2 or 3 Water Pipits a pair of Stonechats and a migrating Whinchat. A Woodlark also gave good views here and then crossing the road we managed to locate a very elusive Marmora’s Warbler but perhaps he was being a little wary of the passing Eleonora’s Falcon.

We managed to find a little shelter behind some of the Maquis scrub and so had lunch with heavy rain clouds threatening over the mountains beyond us. The liquid refreshment at lunchtime produced a mellowing attitude towards the adverse weather and we took a drive around some minor roads to see what could be found. At our first stop a walk into a side valley had us looking at Common Ravens plus three species of wild orchid. Milky, Man and a Spider Orchid type (later identified as Dark Ophrys). The rest of our drive produced many sightings of Ravens and Red Kites as well as Cirl Buntings and a couple of Firecrests in one of the villages we went through. Also in this area we found a plant that was later identified as Hepatica. We gradually made our way back to Corte searching and watching as we went and we had time to relax before yet another superb evening meal.

Thursday 21st April

There was no pre-breakfast walk to allow time for packing prior to our move to the coastal area. As some of the group had not yet seen Dipper we paused at the bridge in town and soon found an individual a little way up river. Also seen here was a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a probable Wryneck.

As we drove along the N200 towards Aleria, we again paused at the cow field and saw many of the same species that we had seen the previous day (Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear and Woodlark) and we also saw lots of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins, so perhaps there had been another fall of migrants. This theory was enhanced by a passing Cuckoo.

At Aleria we made a coffee stop and nearby were seeing Blackcaps, more House Martins and a Kestrel and we could hear a Cetti’s Warbler singing from nearby scrub. After a short drive further south we arrived at Calzarellu went for a walk along the beach to overlook a rather good marsh. Needless to say it was Marsh Frogs that were calling on the waters edge, where a variety of herons and egrets were seeking meals. We saw at least two Little Egrets, 2 Squacco and 6 Purple Herons, so what chance did the frogs have?! An elusive Great Reed Warbler sang from the phragmites over which a Marsh Harrier drifted in typical fashion. In the distance some Red-footed Falcons were circling and one or two came close enough for good identification views. Along the beach a Tawny Pipit was eventually seen by everyone though the Subalpine Warbler skulking in the brambles did not share the same fame. Our walk here was completed with a view over the lake where Great Crested and Little Grebes could be seen amongst the Coots.

We had lunch overlooking the Etang d’Urbino where we sat amongst a good array of flora including Friar’s Cowl, Stranglewort and Arum Italicum. In a distant bay of the Etang, Little and Great White Egrets gave a good size comparison of each other. A couple of Greater Flamingos were wading about in the water with some Common Greenshanks nearby, whilst in a grassy area beyond at least 3 Black-winged Stilts were feeding. Serins and Corn Buntings were seen on the overhead wires, while a Kestrel and a couple of Red Kites were seen in flight.

We took a detour to the Etang de Terrenzana during our drive north towards Bastia but unfortunately there was work going on at the beachside buildings and we failed to find any good birds here. Consequently, apart from occasional Red Kites and Common Buzzards, the drive was fairly uneventful. We reached our hotel in good time for a rest before an excellent dinner. Later we walked out into the hotel car park and could hear at least 3 different European Scops Owls calling but sadly none were actually seen.

Friday 22nd April

For our pre-breakfast walk we drove a short way along the Etang Biguglia and to some scrub where Cetti’s Warbler were fairly numerous. Out on the Etang were many Coots and a few Great Crested Grebes, while the lakeside trees held a female Pied Flycatcher or two and a male Redstart. A male Red-footed Falcon flew by and two Hobbies were seen in the distance, one of which may have been the bird that we saw before leaving the hotel.

Whilst the makings of a picnic where purchased, the clients are left beside the Etang for some birding. Amongst the species seen were about 20 Greater Flamingos, Grey Heron, Little Egrets, Whinchat, Tree Sparrows and Audouin’s Gulls. On the way to Cap Corse we paused at Maccinaggio for coffee and were able to watch House Martins flitting around the harbour-side buildings. Either side of lunchtime we took a short walk at Barcaggio and managed to add a few new species here, although by comparison to previous years birds were rather thin on the ground. Birds seen included 3 Meadow Pipits a Yellow Wagtail and a few Whinchats. But perhaps most noticeable of all was the northerly passage of Swallows, Swifts, House and Sand Martins. Also heading off towards mainland France were at least Marsh Harriers.

We then moved to Cap Grosso where our first find was a couple of Peregrines circling around in the same field of view as a Common Buzzard. After watching these excellent birds for a while we moved out to an area of scrubby heathland where we found and had good views of Sardinian Warblers and a pair of Marmora’s Warblers, which were nest building. These latter birds gave us perhaps the best views we have ever had of this very elusive species.

We then made our way back to the hotel arriving in good time for pre-dinner drinks and the checklist. Once again after dinner we ventured outside but on this occasion could only hear one or two Scops Owls calling!

Saturday 23rd April

This morning before breakfast we took a walk from the hotel out to the road and amongst the sightings were Serin, Italian Sparrow, Red Kite, Wood Warbler and Turtle Doves and we also managed to hear a Nightingale singing.

Our schedule for today’s outing was to circumnavigate (!) the Etang Biguglia …. by road. Our first stop was not far from the hotel by Corsica Pizza; here we had Common Buzzards, Red Kite, Hobby and a couple of Common Kestrels. But most entertaining of all here were the two Eurasian Hoopoes, which flew around from one perch to another and called a lot. The supporting cast included Yellow-headed Wagtail, Northern Wheatear and Tree Pipit. Some distant trees held a couple of Cattle Egrets. Other stops along the eastern side of the Etang had us looking at Black-winged Stilt, 2 Great Cormorants, Black-headed Gulls and Fan-tailed Warblers. Some of the plants seen along the way included the beautiful Bermuda Buttercup, Greater Broomrape, Orobanche crenata and the one that Liz had been waiting to pronounce all week – Urospermum dalechampii. After a coffee stop we managed to make it to the northern end of the Etang where the number of flamingos had reduced to just 4 or 5. The Audouin’s Gulls, Little Egrets, and Tree Sparrows were seen again and we also had 3 Marsh Harriers a female Montagu’s Harrier and at least 7 Greater Black-backed Gulls fly past.

After a quick ‘picnic shop’ we drove down a narrow road to le Fort. Swallows, House and Sand Martins were almost constantly present and 3 Common Sandpipers were spooked up from the shore and ended up perching on some of the local rowing boats. White wagtail, Yellow Wagtail and Northern Wheatear were found in a cattle field, while out on the Etang itself there were many Great Crested and at least 4 Black-necked Grebes. A distant Oystercatcher could be made out through the heat haze.

During our picnic lunch at this location some of the group were botanising and found Water Speedwell, Great Water Dock, Italian Catchfly and possible Wild Leek. Also a passing falcon caused some excitement but unfortunately we could not positively identify it (it was going that fast!) but general opinion suggested it could have been another Eleanora’s Falcon.

Our next destination was what Liz and I used to refer as ‘the rubbish tip road’ ……. But the site had changed! Firstly, much of the rubbish from years of fly tipping had been cleared and secondly, it was no longer possible to drive the road. This latter fact proved to our advantage as it meant we saw more of the woodland and scrub birds as we made our way towards the Etang de Biguglia beginning with 2 or 3 Wood Warblers and a pair of Long-tailed Tits. A Wryneck proved very elusive and not everyone managed to see it.

Down at the lake side, we found at least 4 Marsh Harriers drifting about and one would occasionally surprise a Purple Heron and cause it to spring up from the reed beds. One of these latter birds did briefly land in view but soon slunk away into the vegetation. In all we reckoned there were 4 Purple Herons in the area.

This brought our days’ outing to a close so we made our way back to the hotel in readiness for dinner. After a fine meal, some of the group persuaded Mike to have one more go at (if you’ll excuse the expression!) whistle-up a Scops Owl. For once, the bird was lured into the trees in the car park and those who had ventured out achieved excellent views of this elusive species.

Sunday 24th April

There was no pre breakfast walk to allow everyone time for packing before heading homewards later today. After breakfast we headed along the eastern side of the Etang de Biguglia and at one place we managed to find a few good birds. These included 10 Common Sandpipers, 2 Black-winged Stilts, 5 Mallard, a male Northern Shoveler, 2 Sandwich Terns amongst the Black-headed Gulls as well as 15 Little and 2 Cattle Egrets.

Closer to the northern end of the lake, we took a short walk along some paths and had good views of 3 or 4 Tree Sparrows, an Audouin’s Gull and a few Greater Flamingos. On our way to a coffee stop, 3 Ostriches in a field were something of a surprise but they were definitely NOT added to the species list! It would, after all, be a little difficult for them to actually walk there from Africa ……..

From here we took a drive inland through part of the Golo Valley and then up a winding road towards Campile. Though this village is only a kilometre or two from the main road, it takes 7 km. of driving to get there!! There were few birds to be seen in this area though a Common Buzzard was seen and a few Blackcaps were heard. The main reasons for visiting the location were the fine array of plants …… and lunch combined with some great views. The plants along this road were abundant with 2 species of Cistus, Narrow-leaved Lupin, Dense-flowered, Green-veined, and Barton’s Orchids as well as masses of Cyclamen repandum and Violets. These were just a fraction of what we saw.

To complete the tour we returned to the track leading down to the shores of the Etang de Biguglia. As during the previous days’ walk in this area, we saw a few Purple Herons, a couple of Cattle Egrets and 2 Marsh Harriers beside the Etang while the adjacent wet field held 4 Wood Sandpipers. By now the nearby airport was beckoning and as we returned towards the vehicles, a couple of Wood Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher were seen in the woodland and scrub areas.

We reached the airport in good time for the internal flights back to the French mainland and onwards to Gatwick. By now, the weather had closed in somewhat but despite this, incoming aircraft arrived safely and everyone (except Mike who remained to lead the second tour) boarded their homeward flights.



Little Grebe: 2 on 21st at Calzarellu Marsh, then seen on 23rd & 24th on the Etang de Biguglia

Great Crested Grebe: 2 on 21st at Calzarellu Marsh then seen for the next 3 days at the Etang de Biguglia

Black-necked Grebe: 4 in le Fort bay of the Etang de Biguglia on 23rd

Great Cormorant: 2 on 21st at Calzarellu Marsh then seen for the next 3 days on the Etang de Biguglia and at Cap Corse

Grey Heron: 1 at the Etang d’Urbino on 21st then 1 on 22nd & 2 on 23rd at the Etang de Biguglia

Purple Heron: 6 at Calzarellu Marsh on 21st then at least 6 on 23rd and 3 on 24th around the Etang de Biguglia

Cattle Egret: 1 in a tree not far from our hotel on 23rd then 8 in a damp field the other side of the Etang de Biguglia later that day. We also saw 2 at this same site the following day

Great White Egret: 4 at the Etang d’Urbino 21st

Little Egret: Good numbers seen on the final 4 days of the tour

Squacco Heron: Just 2 seen at Calzarellu Marsh on 21st

Greater Flamingo: 2 on 21st at the Etang d’Urbino and then seen the following 3 days at the Etang de Biguglia with at least 30 individual birds on 23rd

Common Shelduck: Just 2 seen in the distance at the Etang d’Urbino on 21st

Mallard: 2 during the drive to Corte on 17th then seen in small numbers on 4 further days with a maximum of 5 on the Etang de Biguglia on 24th

Northern Shoveler: 1 male on 21st at the Etang d’Urbino and another on the Etang de Biguglia on 24th

Red Kite: This most elegant of European raptors was see in small numbers every day

Montagu’s Harrier: one female flew northwards over the Etang de Biguglia on 23rd

Eurasian Marsh Harrier: Our first were at Calzarellu Marsh on 21st where we ad the first few of about 10 – 12 sightings for the day. We then saw at least 6, 10 and 2 on the following 3 days mostly around the Etang de Biguglia

Eurasian Sparrowhawk: 1 seen on 18th near Corte and another on seen 22nd at Cap Corse

Common (Eurasian) Buzzard: Small numbers seen every day from 18th

Golden Eagle: 1 seen during the pre breakfast walk on 18th then 2 seen just south of Corte a little later that morning

Common (Eurasian) Kestrel: Noted every day except 19th with up to 10 birds seen on 23rd

Eurasian Hobby: 3 seen before breakfast on 22nd then another seen over the Etang de Biguglia a little later that morning. The 2 seen on 23rd and 1 on 24th at the same location could refer to the same birds or new ones passing through on migration

Red-footed Falcon: At Calzarellu and during our move from the mountains to near Bastia on 21st, we saw at least 15 individuals

Eleonora’s Falcon: After some deliberation and studying of books, we confirmed that the falcon that we saw along the N200 on 20th was the first Travelling Naturalist record for this species in Corsica

Peregrine Falcon: 1 in the Verjellu Valley on 18th, 1 just to the north of Corte on 19th and 2 at Cap Grosso on 22nd

Red-legged Partridge: Heard on 22nd at Cap Corse

Common Moorhen: 3 on 23rd around the Etang de Biguglia and also seen there the following day

Eurasian Coot: Noted on the final 4 days in wetland areas

Eurasian Oystercatcher: Just a single bird seen near ‘le Fort’ in the Etang de Biguglia on 23rd

Black-winged Stilt: 4 at the Etang d’Urbino on 21st and then 1 on 23rd and 2 on 24th at the Etang de Biguglia

Common Greenshank: Distant views of about 7 at the Etang d’Urbino on 21st

Wood Sandpiper: 1 on 23rd (with a possible 4 more) by the Etang de Biguglia on 23rd and definitely 4 there the following day

Common Sandpiper: 1 on 21st at the Etang d’Urbino then seen on the following 3 days at Cap Corse and around the Etang de Biguglia

Great Black-backed Gull: 7 or 8 on 23rd at the northern end of Biguglia

Audouin’s Gull: 4 on 22nd by the Etang de Biguglia and at least 10 during journeys and at Cap Corse later that day. Also seen around Biguglia the following day

Yellow-legged Gull: Seen in coastal areas on 17th and then on the final 4 days

Black-headed Gull: Noted in small numbers on 23rd & 24th around Biguglia

Sandwich Tern: 2 seen on 24th at the Etang de Biguglia

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon): Noted every day

(Common) Wood Pigeon: Just seen on 18th & 19th near Corte including during the pre breakfast walks

European Turtle Dove: Seen on 22nd, 23rd & 24th in small numbers

Eurasian Collared Dove: Seen every day except 17th

Common (Eurasian) Cuckoo: 2 heard on 21st (at Aleria & the Etang d’Urbino) and then seen the following day near

the hotel

European Scops-owl: 3 heard on 21st, 1+ heard the following evening and finally 1 well seen on 23rd, all at the hotel

Common Swift: Just 2 seen on the 18th but then there must have been a considerable influx as we saw well in excess of 200 passing to the east of Corte on 20th and we frequently encountered the species on the next 4 days

(Eurasian) Hoopoe: 1 briefly seen as we left Calzarellu on 21st, heard not far from our hotel on 22nd and then 3 seen alongside the Etang de Biguglia on 23rd

(Eurasian) Wryneck: 1 heard not far from Corte on 19th and then 1 seen on the south-western side of Biguglia on 23rd

Great Spotted Woodpecker: Small quantities of this Corsican endemic sub species every day from 18th

Wood Lark: Seen at close range in the Asco Valley on 19th then also noted on 20th, 21st & 23rd

European Sand Martin: Small numbers seen on the final 4 days and these probably refer to migrants heading north with other hirundines

Eurasian Crag Martin: Seen every day except 23rd often in fair numbers (e.g. 20+ in the Golo Valley on 17th)

Barn Swallow: Just a couple on 18th were followed by good numbers every day from 20th with notable northward movement seen on 22nd & 23rd

Common House Martin: Just a single sighting on 18th but then frequently encountered from 20th onwards

Yellow Wagtail: 1 on 22nd at Cap Corse and 2 on 23rd close to the Etang de Biguglia

White Wagtail: 1 seen during lunch at Cap Corse on 22nd and another noted the following day near le Fort

Grey Wagtail: Often seen along rushing rivers from 18th to 21st and also seen before breakfast on 22nd

Tawny Pipit: Our only sighting was 1 along the Calzarellu beach on 21st

Tree Pipit: A single bird was close to ‘Corsica Pizza’ on 23rd

Meadow Pipit: 3 seen at Cap Corse on 22nd

Water Pipit: 2 on 20th and 4+ on 21st near Corte

(White-throated) Dipper: 1 seen during the pre breakfast walk on 20th in Corte and then seen at the same spot as we left the ‘highlands’ the following day

(Winter) Wren: Heard on at least 5 of the days

Common (Eurasian) Blackbird: Noted every day except 17th

Mistle Thrush: Just a single bird seen on 19th in the Asco Valley

European Robin: Heard on 18th & 24th, seen on 20th & 23rd

Common Nightingale: At least 4 were heard on 23rd including near the hotel and also heard the following day

Common Redstart: Just a single bird seen on 22nd during the pre breakfast walk beside the Etang de Biguglia

Whinchat: Seen every day in small numbers from 19th

Common Stonechat: 2 on 19th in the Asco Valley were our first and we then saw small numbers on the following 3 days

Northern Wheatear: 2 on 20th east of Corte and 1 at the same location the following day. Then we had 1 at Cap Corse on 22nd and 2 near the Etang de Biguglia on 23rd

Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Warbler): 1 on 21st at Calzarellu, 2 on 23rd and also noted on 24th beside the Etang de


Cetti’s Warbler: The first one was heard to the east of Corte on 18th then noted on 21st at Calzarellu and on the final 3 days near Biguglia

Great Reed Warbler: Just a single bird at Calzarellu Marsh on 21st

Willow Warbler: Single birds on 22nd and 24th at Cap Corse and Biguglia respectively

Common Chiffchaff: A single bird on 18th in the Verjellu Valley and then noted on 23rd near Biguglia

Wood Warbler: At least 4 on 23rd and 2 on 24th beside the Etang de Biguglia

Blackcap: Noted every day from 18th

Sardinian Warbler: 1 on 22nd at Cap Grosso and 2 on 23rd beside Biguglia

Subalpine Warbler: Single sightings at Calzarellu Marsh on 21st & beside Biguglia on 23rd

Marmora’s Warbler: A male led us a merry dance in scrub east of Corte on 20th but everyone saw it in the end but we need not have worried as a pair were found nest building at Cap Grosso on 22nd

Firecrest: 2 seen during our afternoon drive on 20th

European Pied Flycatcher: 1 male on 21st near Corte, 3 on 22nd 4 on 23rd and also seen on 24th beside Biguglia

Long-tailed Tit: 2 on 20th near Corte, 2 on 23rd & 24th near Biguglia

Coal Tit: Seen on 4 successive days from 18th in various conifer forests (this is a Corsican endemic sub-species)

Great Tit: Seen every day from 18th (this is a Corsican endemic sub-species)

Blue Tit: Seen every day from 18th

Corsican Nuthatch: 2 seen high in the Asco valley where they were in the company of coal tits (this is a full Corsican endemic species)

Black-billed Magpie: At least 2 seen at Marseille airport on the outward journey on 17th

Eurasian Jay: Seen every day except 17th & 22nd (this is a Corsican endemic sub-species)

Alpine (Yellow-billed) Chough: At least 80 seen flying as a loose flock high above the mountains to the north of the

Verjellu valley on 18th with smaller numbers seen above the Asco Valley the following day

Hooded Crow: Seen every day in widely varying habitats

Common Raven: Seen every day except 24th but in smaller numbers than the previous species

Spotless Starling: Seen most days in varying numbers

Corn Bunting: We started with a single bird to the east of Corte on 18th and then seen on 21st & 23rd in lower lying areas

Cirl Bunting: Seen on 5 successive days from 18th in small numbers

Common Chaffinch: Seen every day except 17th

European Serin: Seen every day except 17th

Corsican Citril Finch: Seen on 5 successive days from 18th in a wide variety of habitats and elevations with the most being 30+ in the Asco Valley on 19th

European Greenfinch: Seen on 5 days with the most being seen fairly close to dwellings and towns

European Goldfinch: Seen every day from 18th

Common Linnet: 2 heard flying past us at Cap Corse on 22nd were not actually seen by anyone …… but they still count!!

Common (Red) Crossbill: At least 5 were well seen high in the Verjellu Valley on 18th

House (Italian) Sparrow: Common; seen every day except 17th and 19th (Italian sub-species with a brown ‘cap’; House Sparrows were seen at Marseille on the outward journey at least.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow: Small numbers seen n the final 3 days close to the Etang de Biguglia

Rock Sparrow: Up to 3 seen in the Asco Valley on 19th (the first Travelling Naturalist record for Corsica)

(Common/Eurasian Starling: A ‘Starling with spots’ that we originally identified as this species on 22nd could, on further checking through the literature, have actually been a Spotless Starling coming out of winter plumage but as most of us did not actually see the bird, we will never be sure. Now, if we had seen a starling on the French mainland on the outward or homeward journey, the species would have definitely been added!!)


Wild Boar: Signs of this species were seen beside the road in the Verjellu Valley on 19th and at one or two other places.


Italian Pool Frog: Noted on a couple of occasions

Marsh Frogs: Some frogs possibly of this species were seen on 23rd


Italian Wall Lizard: Noted every day except 17th


Species seen with the number of days on which they were recorded.

Swallowtail 2

Scarce Swallowtail 2

Large white 7

Orange-tip 3

Clouded yellow 3

Brimstone 4

Wood white 2

Green hairstreak 2

Small copper 3

Holly blue 5

Baton blue 1

Peacock 1

Small tortoiseshell 2

Large tortoiseshell 1

Small heath 1

Corsican Heath 2

Speckled wood 3

Wall brown 3


Pine processionary 3


Egyptian Grasshopper 2

7-spot Ladybird 2

2-spot Ladybird 3



The reference numbers for each species refers to the Colins Mediterranean Wild Flowers by Blamey and Grey-Wilson.

Those marked with an ‘E’ are Corsican endemics.

3 Pinus pinea Stone Pine, Umbrella Pine

11 Cupressus sempervirens Italian Cypress

13 Juniperus communis Juniper

23 Castanea sativa Sweet Chestnut

24 Quercus coccifera Kermes Oak

25 Quercus ilex Holm Oak

27 Quercus suber Cork Oak

31 Quercus pubescens Downy Oak

42 Ficus carica Fig

47 Urtica dioica Stinging Nettle

4 Urtica pilulifera Roman Nettle

115 Carprobrotus edulis Hottentot Fig

157 Silene vulgaris Bladder Campion

161 Silene italica Italian Catchfly

176 Silene galica Small-Flowered Catchfly

199 Laurus nobilis Laurel, Sweet Bay

205 Clematis flamula Fragrant Clematis

213 Anemone hortensis

235 Ranunculus velutinus

240 Ranunculus bulbosus Bulbous Buttercup

246 Ranunculus parviflorus Small-flowered Buttercup

252 Ranunculus ficaria Lesser Celandine

283 Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy

284 Papaver dubium Long-headed Poppy

290 Papaver hybridum Rough Poppy

303 Fumaria capreolata Ramping Fumitory

304 Fumaria bicolor

306 Fumaria officinalis Common Fumitory

326 Mathiola sinuata Sea Stock

353 Cardaria draba Hoary Cress

359 Sinapis arvensis Charlock

360 Sinapis alba White Mustard

363 Cakile maritima Sea Rocket

386 Sedum album White Stonecrop

396 Umbilicus rupestris Navelwort (Wall Pennywort)

400 Platanus orientalis Plane Tree

402 Pittosporum tobria

406 Rosa glutinosa Mediterranean Sweet Briar

423 Prunus persica Peach

424 Prunus spinosa Sloe, Blackthorn

428 Rubus sanctus Bramble, Blackberry

430 Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree

432 Acacia dealbata Mimosa

437 Acacia melanoxylon Blackwood Acacia

468 Genista cinerea

475 Ulex europaeus Gorse

481 Spartium junceum Spanish Broom

483 Lupinus luteus Yellow Lupin

486 Lupinus angustifolius Narrow-leaved Lupin

510 Vicia vilosa Blue Vetch

521 Vicia laxiflora Slender Tare

524 Vicia sepium Bush Vetch

531 Vicia sativa Common Vetch

541 Lathyrus sphaericus (Pea Family)

605 Medicago marina Sea Medick

623 Medicago arabica Spotted Medick

625 Lotus corniculatus Common Bird’s-Foot Trefoil

642 Trifolium repens White Clover

645 Trifolium pratense Red Clover

656 Trifolium campestre Hop Tefoil

661 Trifolium incarnatum Crimson Clover

659 Trifolium pilulare Ball Cotton Clover

735 Oxalis pes-caprae Bermuda Buttercup

736 Oxalis articulata Pink Oxalis

744 Geranium pusilum Small-leaved Crane’s-Bill

745 Geranium dissectum Cut-leaved Crane’s-Bill

747 Geranium robertianum Herb Robert

761 Erodium cicutariium Common Stork’sbill

777 Linum bienne Pale Flax

795 Euphorbia spinosa

799 Euphorbia helioscopia Sun Spurge

813 Euphorbia paralias Sea Spurge

814 Euphorbia pithysua ssp. cupanii

819 Euphorbia wulfenii Large Mediterranean Spurge

850 Polygala vulgaris Common Milkwort

863 Pistachia vera Pistachio Nut

910 Lavetera cretica Small Tree Mallow

912 Lavetera arborea Tree Mallow

925 Viola alba supsp. Dehnadtii Mediterranean White Violet

926 Viola odorata Sweet Violet

961 Cistus albidus Grey-leaved Cistus

965 Cistus salvifolius Sage-leaved Cistus

966 Cistus monspeliensis Narrow-leaved Cistus

1024 Tamarix tetragyna Tamarisk

1040 Opuntia ficus-indica Prickly Pear

1073 Eryngium maritimum Sea Holly

1087 Smyrnium olusatrum Alexanders

1132 Apium nodiflorum Fool’s Water-cress

1141 Ferula communis Giant Fennel

1178 Erica arborea Tree Heath

1198 Anagallis arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel

“ “ Blue Pimpernel

1207 Cyclamen repandum Spring Sowbread

1245 Fraxinusornus Flowering Ash (Manna)

1248 Olea europaea Olive

1251 Centaurium erythraea Common Centaury

1260 Vinca major Greater Periwinkle

1268 Cynanchum acutum Stranglewort

1288 Asperula arvensis Blue Woodruff (not in flower)

1300 Cruciata laevipes Crosswort

1315 Catystegia soldanella Sea Bindweed

1334 Convolvulus arvensis Bindweed

1393 Symphytum bulbosum Tuberous Comfrey

1395 Borago officinalis Borage

1413 Anchusa arvensis Bugloss

1475 Lamium purpureum Red Deadnettle

1519 Origanum marjorana Sweet Marjoram

1526 Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary

1528 Lavendula stoechas French Lavender

1545 Salvia verbenaca Wild Clary

1575 Datura stramonium Thornapple

1645 Veronica hederifolia Ivy-leaved Speedwell

1648 Veronica anagallis-aquatica Blue Water Speedwell

1651 Parentucellia viscose Yellow Bartsia

1652 Parentucellia latifolia

1670 Orobanche rapum-ginastae Greater Broomrape

1675 Orobanche crenata

1701 Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain

1712 Lonicera etrusca Etruscan Honeysuckle

1732 Dipsacus fullonum Wild Teasel

1791 Bellis annua Annual Daisy

1805 Evax pygmaea Evax

1858 Anthemis arvensis Corn Chamomile

1887 Matricaria recutita Scented Mayweed

1908 Calendula arvensis Field Marigold

1916 Senecio vulgaris Groundsel

1982 Silybum marianum Milk Thistle

2039 Urospermum dalechampii Urospermum

2087 Asphodelus fistulosus Hollow-leaved Asphodel

2168 Ornithogalum collinum

2171 Ornithogalum umbellatum Star of Bethlehem

2201 Muscari comosum Tassel Hyacinth

2222 Smilax aspera Common Smilax

2224 Allium roseum Rosy Garlic

2229 Allium triquetrum Three-cornered Leek

2276 Narcissus tazetta Polyanthus Narcissus/Rose of Sharon

2290 Iris pseudacorus Yellow Flag

2320 Romulea columnae Sand Crocus

2361 Arum italicum Large Cuckoo Pint

2377 Arisarum vulgare Friar’s Cowl

2383 Cephalanthera longifolia Narrow-leaved Helleborine

2393 Neotinea maculate Dense-flowered Orchid

2399 Aceras anthropophorum Man Orchid

2401 Orchis papilonacea Pink Butterfly Orchid

2403 Orchis morio Green-winged Orchid

2408 Orchis lactea Milky Orchid

2451 Serapias lingua Tongue Orchid

Dark Ophrys

2494 Arundo donax Giant Reed

2525 Asplenium trichomanes Maidenhair Spleenwort

2532 Ceterach officinarum

E Berberis aetnensis

E Alnus cordata Green Alder

E Crocus corsicus Corsican Crocus

E Pinus nigra subsp. Laricio Corsican Pine

E Helleborus lividus subsp. Corsicus

E Euphorbia pithyusa spsp. cupanii

E Sedum brevifolium

E Euphorbia Corsica

E Pancratium illyricum

E Santolina Corsica

E Saxifraga Corsica Corsican Saxifrage






Common Dog Violet



Hepatica Hepatica nobilis

Buttonweed Cotula coronopifolia

Barren Strawberry spp.

Early Forget-me-not

Water Dock


Dog Rose

Water crowfoot

© The Travelling Naturalist and Limosa Holidays 2005