Thursday, 16 May 2013

CORSICA May 2013: Col de Sorba and the east coast

Thursday 09 May.  Megan was keen to visit Corte museum and Citadel as they had been closed when we'd been past previously.  As the outside of the Citadel walls were good enough for me I decided on a final visit to Fort de Pasciolo and Col de Sorba and set off very early to arrive at the former at dawn.  I misjudged the time and was there before first light so, with the luxury of having seen Subalpine Warbler in the Asco valley the previous afternoon, continued up to the Col de Sorba which was brilliantly clear.  Parking at the pass I immediately located a calling Corsican Nuthatch in the trees above me and soon saw another a short distance along the ridge trail.  This trail also produced Wood Lark and a singing Blue Rock Thrush with another of the latter and two Spotted Flycatcher seen from the road as I drove back down to the 3 km track.  
early morning looking SW from Col de Sorba

Our hire car at Col de Sorba
The track was as good as on previous visits with a flock of 9 Bee-eaters flying high south, Spotted Flycatcher, three Corsican Nuthatch (plus one heard from the main road), two Treecreepers, 11 Corsican Finches and three Cirl Buntings seen during an hour or so along it.  I was not disappointed to find a male nuthatch at the 'usual' place and why he had been in this area every time I'd walked past became clear when he visited a hole in a dead tree and a female popped her head out.  Brilliant!

Great Tit.  The race corsus is also found in southern Spain and Portugal
Cirl Bunting
Corsican Finch feeding on the track, browner above than the mainland species
and yellower on the face and below
altogether a rather smart bird

male Corsican Nuthatch at nest hole
with greyer crowned female peering out

every bit as good as i was expecting them to be

I reluctantly dragged myself away and stopped at Fort de Pasciolo, taking the track that led off west.  Here Subalpine, Dartford (2) and Marmora's Warblers were seen, with five of the latter, a Wood Lark and two Stonechats in the areas visited previously.

Fort de Pasciolo
Megan and I arrived back at our hotel in Corte within minutes of each other, finished packing and left for the coast.  We drove back down the Tavignano valley and once on the coast headed south to Calzarello for lunch by the sea.  Our map suggested this was an area of marshland but  if any remained it was well hidden.  We did see 19 Bee-eaters, Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler before trying to access the Etang de Pato a few kms south.  Being early afternoon on a Bank Holiday it was extremely busy and after a short walk along the beach (which added Grey Heron and Linnet to the trip list) we returned to the car and continued south (as did another 10 Bee-eaters).  Next stop was Castello d'Arraggio, an ancient hill fort.  This involved a steep climb but produced superb coastal views, another Subalpine Warbler and a Long-tailed Tit.  We continued to our apartment in Santa Giula although it took some finding.  We had Nightingale and Sardinian Warbler singing opposite us but an after dinner walk to and along the beach produced only a few Yellow-legged Gulls.
Genoan bridge over the Tavignano River
Grasshopper on the beach at Calzarello
Megan at Castello d'Arraggio
superb panorama Castello d'Arraggio

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