Tuesday, 14 May 2013

CORSICA May 2013: Aleria & Etang de Biguglia

Tuesday 07 May 2013.  We headed for the coastal town of Aleria to visit the Fort de Matra and the Roman ruins nearby.  A couple of stops in decent looking habitat on the way down the Tavignano Valley produced just a Sardinian Warbler.  A Corn Bunting was the best at Aleria.  The views back across the coastal plain to the snowy peaks of the interior were impressive but the museum rather dull and the Roman ruins somewhat disappointing.
sardonius Hooded Crow on my pre-breakfast walk - the  'common' crow around the central/eastern Mediterranean but in the UK restricted to the far north-west.
view inland from Aleria
snowy peaks in close-up
Fort de Matra

remains of Roman village
Gecko on Roman ruins at Aleria
female Italian Sparrow, a stable House x Spanish hybrid now recognised as a full species by the IOC.  Common on Corsica, we saw no male House Sparrows and only one probably male Spanish (in the far south).  Identifying females was well beyond me. 
Despite being very common this was the only pair I took photos of.  The chestnut cap of the male made it a smart bird, and more akin to Spanish than House, although it lacked the extensive dark steaks on the underparts of that species. 
We headed up the coast to the top end of the Etang de Biguglia where we saw 40 Yellow-legged and 4 Audouin's Gulls, Osprey, 5 Bee-eaters (flying north calling), 3 Nightingales and the only waders of the trip - 3 Oystercatchers.  We had an obligatory paddle in the Tyrrhenian Sea, distant (50 km) views of the island of Elbe, off the Italian Coast, and as close views as we felt we wanted of the old town/port of Bastia (complete with enormous ferry/cruise liner).
Osprey with fish
adult Audouin's Gull with damaged bill

adult Audouin's Gull with normal bill

We drove to the bottom of the Etang hoping to find better access points but failed with a Bee-eater on a roadside wire and a flyby Turtle Dove the only reward.  La Canonica and the adjoining Roman ruins were more impressive than Aleria but perhaps only due to lower expectations.

Roman ruins (foreground), impressive tree and La Cononica (background) wih Megan hiding a distracting road sign
La Cononica
We headed back to Corte up the Golo Valley stopping for an unidentified kite on the way.
viaduct in the Golo Valley
heavily moulting kite over the Golo valley
to me it seemed to show some features best fitting Black Kite and others Red, otherwise we only saw the latter, which was common.  I was very glad not to have found it in Sussex as I felt it was best left unidentified

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