24-06-2005

Marc was up early (5:00 a.m.), about 2 hours before arrival and went outside to tick the first Scopoli’s Shearwaters. He was also lucky enough to see a group of Common Dolphins. About an hour later I was lucky to be just in time for the lastScopoli’s Shearwater before our arrival, this one flying along with the ferry for over 15 minutes. Only a bit later did we find our only Levantine Shearwater of the trip, also very close to the boat. While entering Propriano port the firstAudouin’s Gull was a fact whilst a Shag was swimming in the harbour. Disembarking in Propriano went smooth although this resulted in a car-stuffed town for over 20 minutes. Within minutes after arrival the first flock of Black Starlings flew by.
We first checked the area south of Propriano, along the road to the airport and towards Punta di Campomoro. It wasn’t long before we found – among the more common species – a loud singing Cetti’s WarblerZitting CisticolaQuails (close to the airport), Bee-eatersCorn BuntingsSardinian WarblerRed-backed ShrikeCirl Bunting and a flock of Pallid Swifts. In the harbour of Portigliolo we found our second Audouin’s Gull, which, however beautiful, proved to be quite common. The first interesting butterfly was one of Europe’s largest: the beautiful Two-tailed Pasja, which proved to be common in the coastal areas. The second interesting butterfly was the most common butterfly during our stay: Cleopatra, and the third interesting butterfly was another great one: Southern White Admiral, also not uncommon. Dragonflies included Copper Demoiselle(Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis). This first impression, after only an hour on the island, was very inspiring indeed.
Around 11:00 a.m. we decided to head into the mountains to escape the oncoming heat. We drove to Zonza with several stops along the road to add Raven and Great Banded Grayling to our list. This charming butterfly was only seen in this part of the island. The scenery on the way to Col de Bavella was magnificent.

Col de Bavella

What to expect: 2-3 hour walk in alpine area, mostly with Corsican Pine
Getting there: Follow the D268 until you arrive at a large parking place at Bavella. There are several signposted walks from this car park to the “U Cumpuleddu”. This is a very popular area so it can be crowded, mostly around the car park.
Targets: Corsican Nuthatch, Corsican Citril Finch, Lammergeier, Crossbill.

We took our time following the red route to U Cumpuleddu whilst birding. Coal Tit is very common and Great Spotted Woodpecker is easily found. During the walk we also saw two small flocks of Crossbills, one at the car park, Woodlarkand European Serin. Butterflies included our first endemic (shared only with Sardinia): Corsican Heath. We also found Small HeathBrown ArgusSmall Copper and a Pale Wall Butterfly (the latter restricted to the Western Mediterranean Islands). Marc found Corsican Brook Newt (Euproctus montanus) in a small stream.
It was only at the top that I walked into our first Corsican Nuthatch, two birds chasing each other. A panicky moment since Corsican Citril Finches and Yellow-billed Chough showed up at exactly the same moment and Marc was 50 meters behind. This resulted in the first dip for Marc as the Nuthatches unfortunately disappeared, not to be found again. Crag Martin and Alpine Swift were not much of a comfort.
During our walk back we saw a few Large Tortoiseshells en Southern Commas along the road in the forest.
Around 04:00 p.m. we left the place and drove on to the East Coast to find a place to sleep. We eventually found a very nice campsite at Prunete (€ 10,-) where we had a nice swim in the Mediterranean. At dusk at least two Scops Owls started to call.