25-06-2005

We packed our things and left the campsite early. We drove to the Asco Valley, north of Corte without stopping much along the road. The road through Gorges de l’Asco is a very scenic route but we decided to drive on to the end of the road at Haut Asco for another chance of finding Corsican Nuthatch and other high elevation species. Along the way we saw a big flock of Alpine Swifts and several Crag Martins.

Haut Asco

What to expect: several trails leading to different areas including mountaintops
Getting there: take the D47 from N197 just north of Ponte Leccia. Asco and Haut Asco are signposted. Corsican Nuthatch can be found in the larger Corsican Pines around the car park near the hotel. There are several trails to walk. One very interesting trail that is also good for Corsican Nuthatch is an orange route (starting red), starting at the car park opposite the hotel behind rubbish bins. Another good spot is up at and behind the cabins.
Targets: Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Corsican Nuthatch, Corsican Citril Finch, Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor

Haut Asco is one of the highest places to be easily reached by car. At the car park a Grey Wagtail was present and Corsican Citril Finches were easy to find. We walked the orange route and the first Corsican Nuthatch here was a heard-only bird calling from down slope. Within a few hundred meters from the car park a second bird, a male, showed very briefly before it disappeared into the crown of a pine. We continued along the trail until we reached a bridge over one of several streams. A Dipper was flying up and down this stream. Our first swallowtail on the island proved to be a Corsican Swallowtail.
After heading back to the car we decided to try for better looks of the nuthatch at the first sharp bend in the road, just down from the car park. We played the sound for a moment and within 10 minutes a female finally showed very well in the pines along the road before disappearing again. 
After that we tried for Lammergeier at several spots down from the car park but without success. At one spot with lots of flowers, including a flowering blackberry, we found some interesting butterflies.Cardinal was quite common along with Silver-washed Fritillary. The widespread but charming Queen of Spain Fritillary was present and the Corsica/Sardinia endemic Corsican Fritillary was seen in small numbers. Also present were widespread species like Holly BlueSilver-studded Blue (ssp. Corsicus) and Common Blue. We drove back through Asco Valley where we had a stop to check out aSubalpine Warbler.
By now it was well past noon and we decided to go to another spot: L’Etang de Biguglia. We arrived in the afternoon and tried to find some good birding spots. Our first Hoopoe was seen down a track along a channel in the southern part of the area where Bee-eaters were also common. The D107 follows L’Etang on the eastern side but it is quite difficult to get a good view of the lake.

L’Etang de Biguglia

What to expect: not many walking options, marshes, open water, agricultural and coastal fields
Getting there: L’Etang can best be birded from the D107. There is a small track leading into a ‘peninsula’ from where you can see some parts of the lake. Best view is close to the parking place at La Marana. There might be other means to get close to the lake but we couldn’t find them.
Targets: Audouin’s Gull, ducks, waders, marsh warblers, Moustached Warbler (only in winter).

Best stop was at the car park just north of La Marana with good views over the lake (bad light in the late afternoon). We found another three Audouin’s Gulls and a Sandwich Tern among the numerous Common Terns. We decided that the area was not all that inspiring and a bit crowded due to the beaches close by. We therefore left the area quickly. In order to be able to have an early morning in Cap Corse we decided to drive north for the rest of the evening. Passing Bastia was not much of a problem and we finally ended up at a campsite at Pietra. Campsite birding was pleasant with Bee-eatersCirl BuntingsSubalpine WarblersSpotted Flycatcher (distinct subspecies!) and our first Nightjars, all seen or heard from the campsite, and Hoopoe and Dartford Warbler in the fields and maquis near the campsite. During the night we were again treated with a Scops-Owl calling.