Corse

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax cargo ©Ashley Beolens Website
Birding Corsica

Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily, Sardinia, and Cyprus). It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia. Corsica is considered one of the 26 régions of France, although strictly speaking Corsica is designated as a ‘territorial collectivity’ (collectivité territoriale) by law. The region consists of the Departments of: Corse du Sud & Haute-Corse. The traditional Province (& Island) of Corsica. As a territorial collectivity, it enjoys greater powers than other French régions, but for the most part its status is quite similar. Corsica is referred to as a ‘région’ in common speech, and is almost always listed among the other régions of France. Although the island is separated from the continental mainland by the Ligurian Sea and is much closer to the Italian than to the French mainland, politically Corsica is part of Metropolitan France. It was once briefly an independent Corsican Republic, until being incorporated into France in 1768.

Corsica is famed as the birthplace of Napoléon Bonaparte. His ancestral home, Casa Buonaparte, is located there still.

Corsica has several rivers, some with tributaries. They originate in inland lakes or mountain passes, flow through gorges featuring rapids and waterfalls, then meander through coastal alluvial deposits before discharging into the sea rather than into one of the many coastal étangs or ‘pools’.

The island is divided into three major ecological zones by altitude.Below 2,000 feet (610 m) is the coastal zone, which features a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The natural vegetation is Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and shrubs. The coastal lowlands are part of the Tyrrhenian-Adriatic sclerophyllous and mixed forests ecoregion, in which forests and woodlands of evergreen sclerophyll oaks predominate, chiefly Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) and Cork Oak (Quercus suber). Much of the coastal lowlands have been cleared for agriculture, grazing and logging, which have reduced the forests considerably.From 2,000 to 6,000 feet (610 to 1,800 m) is a temperate montane zone. The mountains are cooler and wetter, and home to the Corsican montane broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion, which supports diverse forests of oak, pine, and broadleaf deciduous trees, with vegetation more typical of northern Europe. The population lives predominantly below 3,000 feet (910 m), with only shepherds and hikers at 2,000 to 3,000 feet (610 to 910 m).From 6,000 to 9,000 feet (1,800 to 2,700 m) is a high alpine zone. Vegetation is sparse. In spite of the southern location, the highest elevations are snow-capped with small glaciers. This zone is uninhabited.

The island has a natural park (Parc Naturel Régional de Corse), which protects thousands of rare animal and plant species. The park was created in 1972 and includes the Golfe de Porto, the Scandola Nature Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and some of the highest mountains on the island. This park is protected and cannot be reached on foot, but people can gain access by boat. Two endangered subspecies of hoofed mammals, the mouflon (Ovis aries musimon) and Corsican red deer (Cervus elaphus corsicanus) inhabit the island; the Corsican red deer is endemic.

Contributors
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 547

Endemics
  • Number of endemics: 1

    Corsican Nuthatch Sitta whiteheadi
Checklist

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Birdwatching Guide to France: South of the Loire Including Corsica (Paperback)

    (Paperback) by Jacquie Crozier Arlequin Publications (1 May 2000) ISBN: 1900159368 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birdwatching in Sardinia & Corsica

    Edited by Steve Evans & Narated by Nick Williams | Isabelline Films | DVD | Runtime: 56 min | All Regions | ISBN: #206776 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Books, CDs, etc.

    For books on France as a whole and more than one region see the Fatbirder France page ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Birds of Corsica

    [BOU checklist number 17] by Jean-Claude Thibault & Giles Bonaccorsi 1999 ISBN: 0907446213 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • RP Parc naturel régional de Corse

    InformationSatellite iew
    The aim is to protect and valorise the rich flora and wildlife of the island.
Trip Reports


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2009 [07 July] - Stephen Burch

    Report
    We were clearly on a roll, so I decided on another stop at the next available parking place in the pines. Almost as soon as we got out from the car, we first heard and then saw Corsican Nuthatches. These were quite confiding, and at one point we had 3 birds in the same tree quite close to the road, and low enough down for some moderate photography, albeit hampered by poor light and their somewhat frustrating behaviour. Nevertheless this had been a very successful excursion, with both endemics ticked without too much difficulty…
  • 2010 [05 May] - Pete Morris

    Report
    On Corsica, the obvious highlight was the superb endemic Corsican Nuthatch which was our overall bird of the trip, but an excellent supporting cast included Marmora’s, Dartford and Moltoni’s Warblers (the local form of Subalpine), Corsican Finch and Italian Sparrow as well as more widespread species such as Scopoli’s and Yelkouan Shearwaters, Red Kite, Red-footed Falcon, Audouin’s Gull, Pallid Swift and Eurasian Wryneck….
  • 2011 [07 July] - Sue Bryan

    Report
    Paul was looking for somewhere to treat me for my birthday and between us we came up with the suggestion of a long weekend away in Corsica. Paul and I both wanted to see Corsican Nuthatch and Corsican Citril Finch and so with only two target birds we thought anything else was a bonus, giving us plenty of time to relax and chill out!
  • 2012 [08 August] - Anders Hangård - Sardinia & Corsica

    Report
    …This was primarily a family-trip with my wife and two children (8 and 11 years) to get some sun and warmth away from the disasterous summer we have had in Norway this year. I still managed to sneak in some birding to secure all the endemic species and subspecies…
  • 2013 [11 November] - Marcel Holyoak

    Report
    VERY brief
  • 2017 [04 April] - Mike Neale

    PDF Report
    Illustrated list
  • 2018 [05 May] - Richard Lansdown

    PDF Report
    ... We stopped again to admire the view at one point, whilsthundreds of hirundines poured up the valley, accompanied by a flock of Bee-eaters, as well as smaller numbersof Common and Alpine Swifts....
  • 2018 [06 June] - Jack Bucknall

    PDF Report
    We arrived at Bastia-Poretta airport at 12:45, and upon arriving at our hire car after a hassle-free car pick-up from Sixt, we immediately saw our first Red Kite of the trip, a particularly common sight in almost any habitat on the island. My first lifer of the trip came very shortly after with a group of Italian Sparrows in the car park, anothercommon sight throughout, as were Hooded Crows, Spotless Starlings and Collared Doves.
  • 2018 [07 July] - Marc Brunel

    PDF Report
    This trip was not only a birding trip. The bird list would have been obviously longer if it was dedicated exclusively to birdwatching, however I designed it to observe as many species as possible, targeting the relevant species and subspecies, in particular the only endemic Corsican species, so the only French one, the Corsican Nuthatch.
  • 2018 [08 August] - Roland van der Vliet

    PDF Report
    Few bird taxa are really confined to Corsica but these include Corsican Nuthatch. Two other good species that are however shared with Sardinia and/or mainland Italy are Corsican Citril Finch and Moltoni's Subalpine Warbler. These three species were my main targets. Other taxa that are confined to Corsica (and/or Sardinia) are for instance the local subspecies of Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Common Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Coal Tit, Wren, Eurasian Treecreeper, Mistle Thrush, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Red Crossbill. I presume that not all these are really diagnosable though. Two further interesting taxa are the local Spotted Flycatcher and Woodchat Shrike: they only breed on the western Mediterranean islands (including the Balearics).

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND