Dates: 23-28 April 2019
Price: £1,495 (including flights)
The French island of Corsica is one of the jewels of the Mediterranean, with some outstanding birds in beautiful scenery and a backdrop of impressive mountains. There are two endemic species, Corsican Nuthatch and Corsican Finch, and four more recent splits in the form of Marmora's and Moltoni's Warblers, Italian Sparrow and Mediterranean Flycatcher, all of which can be found in the right habitat on the island. The introduced California Quail still hangs on in coastal areas, where a seawatch should produce Yelkouan and Scopoli's Shearwaters.
This is a superb destination, especially in spring, and is ideally suited to anyone wanting a healthy dose of Mediterranean birding, as well as keen Western Palearctic listers.
Day 1 Afternoon flight from London Heathrow via Nice to Bastia, where we will spend the night close to the airport.
Day 2 We head into the mountains to look for our first target bird, Corsican Nuthatch. Although it is not a large island it is very mountainous, so the journey will be slow. As we will not have far to travel, hopefully we will soon be watching this delightful little bird foraging and possibly feeding young in the endemic Corsican Pines. While Corsican Nuthatches are very selective about their habitat, the other endemic species, Corsican Finch, occurs in a wide variety of environments. We will spend the whole day in the mountains, where we will almost certainly also encounter the highly localised Marmora’s Warbler. Other birds we may see include Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Blue Rock Thrush, Alpine Chough and Cirl Bunting.
Late afternoon we will check into our hotel in Zonza for a four-night stay.
Day 3-4 These two days will be spent leisurely exploring the mountains and forests where, in addition to the species listed above, we will look for the recently split Moltoni’s Warbler (formerly included within Subalpine Warbler). The other newly split species present on Corsica are Tyrhennian Flycatcher and Italian Sparrow, both of which are relatively common throughout the island.
Day 5 Today we head to the east coast, where we will explore several habitats ranging from vineyards to coastal scrub and lagoons. Species we may encounter include Purple Heron, Western Marsh Harrier, Zitting Cisticola and Dartford, Melodious and Sardinian Warblers. Additionally, we should find Firecrest, Spotless Starling, Hooded Crow, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Petronia and European Serin. One of the special birds of the area is the introduced California Quail. Although well established, it isn't common anywhere so we hope to have luck on our side. In the afternoon we will visit a headland to do some seawatching. Audouin’s and Yellow-legged Gulls should be present and we will see Scopoli’s and Yelkouan Shearwaters, as well as the Mediterranean subspecies of European Shag. Around the cliffs, Alpine and Pallid Swifts and Eurasian Crag Martin can be found. In the evening we will visit several local sites to listen for European Scops Owl and, hopefully, see one.
Day 6 After checking out of our hotel, we will spend the day travelling north back through the mountains to Bastia for a last look at the endemics, before to catching our late afternoon flight back to London.
The pace of the tour is moderate, with only a reasonable degree of fitness required, as walks will be just two to three miles each day. While much warmer around the coast, the temperature can be cold in the mountains early in the morning, and at this time of year rain is also possible so appropriate clothing and footwear is needed. Visas are not required for EU citizens. Minimum number for the tour to go ahead: six with one leader, maximum 12 with two leaders.
This tour is operated on behalf of Birdwatch and BirdGuides by Birdfinders (fully bonded and licensed through the CAA, ATOL licence 5406). The price includes economy scheduled flights between London and Bastia, accommodation in twin-bedded en-suite rooms in medium-standard hotels, ground transport by minibus, all food from dinner on day 1 to lunch on day 6, and services of the leader(s) throughout. Excluded are drinks, gratuities, insurance and items of a purely personal nature. For an itinerary and reservations, call the company on 01258 839066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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