26-06-2005

We began the day by checking the surroundings of the campsite and the maquis. All species were seen earlier during our vacation; we had good views of a family of Dartford Warblers. It took us less than an hour to drive to the small town of Macinaggio in the far north of Cap Corse.

Santa Maria and Iles Finocchiarola

What to expect: 2-3 hours gentle walk, coastal maquis, islands
Getting there: the trails to walk start from a small beach with a car park that can be reached by following the main road through Macinaggio (D80) until a turnoff with signposts pointing to a campsite called “U Stazzu” and the “Sentier des Douaniers”. Follow these signs and continue along the road well passed the campsite, following the sign that reads “Sentier de Douaniers”. The road gets worse from here on but it is only 1 km to the car park and it is manageable with a low clearance vehicle. Park at the car park and follow the beach until some trails are signposted. The best trail for warblers is the one following the coastline. It is about an hour walk through great maquis to the tower of Santa Maria.
Targets: Audouin’s Gull, Shag, Dartfort Warbler, Marmora’s Warbler

We parked our car at the still desolated car park and walked across the beach where a Two-tailed Pasja showed well sitting in the sand. The trail we reached at the end of the beach was beautiful and it took not very long before our firstMarmora’s Warbler was a fact. Also present were DartfortSubalpine and Sardinian WarblerCirl Bunting and Red-backed Shrike were common. The coast held Shag and another Audouin’s Gull among the numerous Yellow-legged Gulls. We took our time to walk to Santa Maria tower where we had a short break and a swim. The area held quite some butterflies including Clouded YellowSouthern Gatekeeper (very common), Southern Grayling (surprisingly not the endemic Corsican Grayling that we haven’t been able to find at all) and a few Southern White Admirals. We walked the (shorter) inland trail (along the chapel) back to the beach where we tried for some dragonflies at the small pools bordering the beach. Red-veined Darter was common and Scarlet Dragonfly was beautiful. Also present were Black-tailed Skimmer and Norfolk Hawker. A Two-tailed Pasja that was quenching its thirst at one of the pools was very photogenic. 
This excursion took us most of the morning and quite satisfied we decided to drive west to take the coastal route back down. Just for fun we drove the small and scenic D153 and D253 north to Tollare and Barcaggio. Back in Ersa we enjoyed a great lunch accompanied by yet another Two-tailed Pasja. At a certain spot in Ersa a wall full with flowering plants provided us with a sparkling spectacle of butterflies including Cleopatra and common Swallowtail. This abundance of butterflies was only top by a desolated football field with lots of flowers where we saw an estimated 2000+ Cleopatras and numerous other species amongst which Cardinal, with Silver-washed Fritillary and Swallowtail. After this intermezzo we enjoyed the very scenic and at times scary coastal route down to Saint-Florent. The combination of the ultramarine Mediterranean, steep green slopes, black beaches and charming traditional towns was breathtaking.
In the end of the afternoon we arrived in Saint-Florent and we found a camping just west of town with enough time to have another swim in the sea.