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Corsica 9 – 16 May 2021 (tbc)

Isle of Beauty web page under construction

The Mediterranean’s most mountainous island, yet with fine coastal wetlands, Corsica offers an unusual mix. That’s also reflected in its human influences: a region of France yet with cultural links to Italy. Its isolation also explains two sought-after birds named after the island, Corsican nuthatch and Corsican citril finch.

Nicknamed ‘The Isle of Beauty’, Corsica’s mountain zone has craggy limestone outcrops above forests of Corsican pine and oak. The coast will offer Mediterranean warmth with a nice range of wetland birds and other wildlife.


Rugged scenery in the mountains of Corsica.

Mountains

We have a two-centre holiday that starts in the uplands amid the spectacular scenery of the Restonica Gorge. Here we’ll search for Corsican nuthatch and Corsican citril finch, plus the Corsicana subspecies of crossbill. Lammergeiers still occur in this area, but there is just a handful of birds on Corsica.

Other high-altitude birds include golden eagle, alpine swift, red-rumped swallow, crag martin, water pipit, alpine chough and alpine accentor. Birds of the countryside nearby include red kite, turtle dove, scops owl, hoopoe, woodlark, tawny pipit and nightingale.


Water pipit; turtle doves.


Corsican nuthatch, Mike Price, Wikimedia commons. The Corsican nuthatch is strongly linked to Corsican pines, especially older trees with holes.

Coast

For the second part of the programme we go northwest for three nights at the three star Isola Hôtel, set between a beach and the island’s largest freshwater body, L’Étang de Biguglia. This lagoon is the top site on Corsica for a range of wetland birds such as purple and night herons, little bittern, greater flamingo, red-crested pochard, black-winged stilt and various waders.

Farther north is Cap Corse, a notable migration watchpoint. Offshore there should be shearwaters; on the land, blue rock thrush and Marmora’s warbler. Migrants are always a matter of chance though could include honey buzzard, red-footed falcon, wryneck and bee-eater.

Birds

Those mentioned above, plus Dartford and Sardinian warblers, Moltoni’s warbler (the Mediterranean island version of subalpine warbler here), firecrest, woodchat and red-backed shrikes, spotless starling, pallid swift, Italian and rock sparrows, serin and cirl bunting. By the coast, Cetti’s, fan-tailed, moustached and great reed warblers; Audouin’s, yellow-legged and slender-billed gulls.


French lavender, tree heather and cistus.

Other wildlife

The holiday is based around a birdwatching itinerary though in Honeyguide style we’ll look at everything else. The maquis – Mediterranean scrub – includes strawberry trees, which support two-tailed pasha butterflies. Sunshine will bring out swallowtails and a range of other butterflies; Corsican wall brown is endemic to Corsica and Sardinia.

Cistus, tree heather, French lavender add structure and colour. Corsica has a good range of orchids and endemic island flowers will be a steep learning curve: Corsican butterwort, Corsican crocus, Corsican saxifrage and Corsican storksbill are some of the species to look for.

Reptiles and amphibians endemic to to the Tyrrhenian islands (see caption) are another point of interest.

Tyrrhenian Wall Lizard
Tyrrhenian wall lizard. Tyrrhenian tree frog is another island speciality. The Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean west of Italy: wildlife names that include 'Tyrrhenian' are species that occur on Corsica, Sardinia and adjacent small islands. Bedragia's rock lizard, Italian pool frog and Hermann's tortoise are other 'herptiles' to look for.

Holiday details

Four nights in the mountains of Corsica, probably at Hôtel Arena Le Refuge (probably not Hotel E Castelle), exploring upland areas.  Three nights at the coastal Isola Hôtel in NW Corsica.

Price: c.£1600 per person in twin room for seven nights, Sunday-Sunday.

Single room supplement: £TBA

En suite facilities.

What the price includes: return flights, seven nights’ half board (TBC) en-suite accommodation, local transport, guidance.

What the price excludes: lunches TBC

Flights: London Stansted to Bastia with Air Corsica

Deposit: £300

Maximum number (two leaders): 14

Leaders

Christopher Hall runs his own birdwatching company, New Horizons, though is planning to guide for others and leave the administrative roles behind; this partnership with Honeyguide is a step in that direction. As well as being our holiday leader in Falsterbo, Corsica is another of the many birdwatching destinations he knows well. His wildlife watching tours for a growing ‘family’ of loyal regulars means he has guided over 150 tours worldwide. He has also been a science teacher and run birdwatching evening classes.

Chris Durdin is the driving force behind Honeyguide, running holidays since 1991. For many years he combined this with his work for the RSPB in Eastern England, often the Society’s spokesman, but has been concentrating on Honeyguide full-time since 2009. Chris is the co-author of a book about Norfolk’s cranes and leads monthly guides walks at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Thorpe Marshes nature reserve. He’s also a barbershop singer. As a naturalist, Chris is an all rounder.

Conservation project

TBA

Corsica

For prices (presently TBC), see Holiday Details at the bottom of the page.

travel aware logo

FCO travel advice for France here.

 

Corsican citril finch

Corsican citril finch (also called Corsican finch) has a restricted distribution: Corsica, Sardinia and adjacent islands

Corsica

Poppies, Corsica.

Lammergeiers on Corsica

When lammergeiers (bearded vultures) were disappearing from Europe, they hung on in Corsica, on Crete and in the Pyrenees.

Recent conservation efforts have boosted their numbers in the Pyrenees and reintroductions have meant their return to parts of the Alps and the Cévennes in France.

There are just four pairs on Corsica (more here) and the dwindling numbers are likely to rely on active help from conservationists to remain a viable population,

Cyclamen repandum

Cyclamen repandum, the spring sowbread,

Holiday reports

There is no previous Honeyguide report.

However Christopher Hall has taken several groups here: see Corsica 2014 holiday report on the New Horizons website.

Cirl bunting

It's not all Corsican pines ...

Cap Corse

Cap Corse (Wikipedia)

Two-tailed pasha.

Corsican butterwort

Corsican butterwort Pinguicula corsica (Wikipedia).

Christopher Hall, Falsterbo, 2019.

Chris in Valencia

Chris Durdin

Wildlife and landscape photos mostly by Christopher Hall.

SUPPORTING

LPO

TBC, for example

Vulture Conservation Foundation?

https://www.4vultures.org/

Facebook Honeyguide
... where there are many holiday photos to enjoy.

Atol protected

The air holidays shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3253. ATOL Protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. Click on the ATOL logo if you want to know more.

Helping you enjoy wildlife – Helping you protect wildlife