What an island! Arboreous hillsides, emerald green bays, gorgeous gorges. And lots of interesting critters. 

We started at Bastia and basically crossed the upper third of the island via N 193 and D 84, arrived at Porto and then made our way back to Bastia following the coastline. Locations visited: Bastia, Corte, Restonica-Valley, Lac du Melu, Calacuccia, Col de Vergio, Ota/Spelunca gorge, coast at Osani, Galeria/Fango, Forêt de Bonifatu, Ostriconi, Cap Corse.

The vicinity of the Ostriconi campground was the most productive site in terms of species richness most probably because of the diversity of the habitat and our prolonged staying there.


Drive Bastia-Corte, 18.5.2016

herring gull – Silbermöwe (1); Eurasian or Pallid swift – Mauer- oder Fahlsegler? (≈50); house martin – Mehlschwalbe (≈50); barn swallow – Rauchschwalbe? (1); red kite – Roter Milan (4); domestic pigeon – Haustaube (-); hooded crow – Nebelkrähe (-)

Camping Tuani, Restonica-Valley (pine forest) 18.5.-20.5.

golden eagle – Steinadler (1); short-toed treecreeper – Gartenbaumläufer (2); long-tailed tit – Schwanzmeise (1); great tit – Kohlmeise (1); blue tit – Blaumeise (1); chaffinch – Buchfink (1); scops owl – Zwergohreule (1); jay – Eichelhäher (1); coal tit – Tannenmeise, nesting hole on the ground (1); woodpigeon – Ringeltaube (5); spotted flycatcher – Grauschnäpper (2); blackcap – Mönchsgrasmücke (-)


Long-tailed tit – Schwanzmeise – from Camp Tuani. Looks similar to Aegithalos caudatus irbii from Southern and Central Spain, but still different. Note  the streaks on dark cheeks, throat, breast and belly and the narrow and erratic white crest. I wonder if this is a peculiarity of Corsican long-tailed tits.


Eurasian treecreeper – Waldbaumläufer – just picking a larvae from under the bark of a pine.

trail to Lac de Melu (1710 m), 18.5.

cuckoo – Kuckuck (1); wren – Zaunkönig (≈5); chaffinch – Buchfink (≈5); grey wagtail – Gebirgsstelze (1); water pipit – Bergpieper (1); crag martin – Felsenschwalbe (≈10); raven – Kolkrabe (2), red fox – Rotfuchs (1)


Just great those pines on the upper forest line!


We were quite surprised to find this curious fox close to the shore of lac de Melu …


… but I have experienced this several times on other trips: the more people there are, who potentially leave edible things behind, the more inquisitive foxes become.


Water pipit – Bergpieper: How nice, to get a close look at this fellow. Note, that there are almost no streaks on breast and flanks.

Corte / citadel, 19.5.

red kite – Roter Milan (1); goldfinch – Distelfink (-); blackbird – Amsel (-); house martin – Mehlschwalbe (-); crag martin – Felsenschwalbe (-); pallid swift – Fahlsegler (-); Italian sparrow – Italiensperling (-); serin – Girlitz (species?) (-); kestrel – Turmfalke (-); blackcap – Mönchsgrasmücke (-)

Morning walk from Camp Tuani/Restonica upwards, 20.5.

woodpigeon – Ringeltaube (-); chaffinch – Buchfink (-); robin – Rotkehlchen (-); wren – Zaunkönig (-); short-toed treecreeper – Gartenbaumläufer (-); great tit – Kohlmeise (-); blackbird – Amsel (-); mistle thrush – Misteldrossel? (-); jay – Eichelhäher (-); coal tit -Tannenmeise (-); common firecrest – Sommergoldhähnchen (1); buzzard – Mäusebussard (2); blue tit – Blaumeise (1); great spotted woodpecker – Buntspecht (-), crag martin – Felsenschwalbe (-)


Corsican hellebore (Helleborus lividus corsicus) – Korsische Nieswurz: was in May still one of the prominent plants on the forest floor.


Dead horse arum lily (Helicodiceros-muscivorus) – Totes-Pferd Aronstab


This fantastic plant is said to smell like rotting meat to attract carrion-seeking flies. The specimens I found were still pure beauty and had not yet developed their odor.


Like dinosaurs shells: the bark ob the Corsican pine


I was sure to find the Corsican nuthatch here – which is endemic for Corsica. But I didnn’t. I will try it again!


Royal fern (Osmunda regalis) – Königsfarn. I was surprised to find this impressive plant between the boulders of Restonica river.

Stop at D 84 towards westcoast / east of Calacuccia, 20.5.

stonechat – Schwarzkehlchen (couple); craig martin – Felsenschwalbe (-); house martin – Mehlschwalbe (-); spotted flycatcher – Grauschnäpper (-); kestrel -Turmfalke (-)


Golo valley below D 84

Coffee break at Calacuccia, 20.5.

spotted flycatcher – Grauschnäpper (-); blackbird – Amsel (-); Eurasian collared dove – Türkentaube ? (2); red kite – Roter Milan (-); hooded crow – Nebelkrähe (-); Italian sparrow – Italiensperling (-); chaffinch – Buchfink (-); Eurasian greenfinch – Grünfink (-); house martin – Mehlschwalbe (-); swift (pallid-?) – Segler (Fahl-?)

Col de Vergio (1452 m), 20.5.

chiffchaff – Zilpzalp (1)


Free ranging feral pics like this at Col de Vergio are to be seen all over the place in Corsica.


idyllic: Ota at the lower end of Spelunca gorge


a feral pic crossing the road


feral goats along the road to Ota


Spelunca gorge: gorgeous!

Camp near Porto / Ota, 21.5.

blackbird – Amsel (-); blue tit – Blaumeise (-); goldfinch – Distelfink (-); scops owl – Zwergohreule (-); spotted flycatcher – Grauschnäpper (-); collared dove – Türken?-Taube (-); coal tit – Tannenmeise (-); greenfinch – Grünfink (-)

Ota, 21.5.

pallid swift – Fahlsegler (≈10); Italian sparrow – Italiensperling (-)


the „entrance“ to Spelunca gorge seen from the bridge that leads to Ota


a sign of protest …


… or a manifestation of the good forage quality at Ota soccer field?


The fertile frond of the royal fern (Osmuna regalis) – Königs-Rispenfarn


The Genoese bridge of Pianella on the Porto river near Ota


spotted flycatcher – Grauschnäpper – at the camp

Osani, Westcoast / Camping e Gradelle, 22.5.

raven – Kolkrabe (2); robin – Rotkehlchen (1); great tit – Kohlmeise (2+); great spotted woodpecker – Buntspecht (3); blackbird – Amsel (2); long-tailed tit – Schwanzmeise (2); blue tit – Blaumeise (2); subalpine warbler – Weißbartgrasmücke (couple); Eurasian jay – Eichelhäher (1); common firecrest – Sommergoldhähnchen (1); greenfinch – Grünfink (1); pallid swift – Fahlsegler (5+); goldfinch – Distelfink (2).


Moltoni’s warbler – Ligurien-Bartgrasmücke …


… I found this guy’s nest  in a dry brook bed close to the beach.


great spotted woodpecker – Buntspecht: This fellow was busy opening a closed pine cone.


blackbird – Amsel – with a load of two juicy larvaes


blue tit – Blaumeise – nesting in a cavity of an olive tree

Shore: shag – Krähenscharbe (-); blue rock thrush – Blaumerle (1); rock dove – Felsentaube (2); hering gull – Silbermöwe (5+)


Cotton weed plant (Otanthus maritimus) – Schneeweiße Strandfilzblume at the beach of Osani e Gradelle


One of quite some dozen by-the-wind-sailors (Velella velella) – Segelqualle: fantastic color and biology!


Most probably a sea slater (Ligia-italica) – Klippenassel – as far as I could see from my kayak


beadlet anemone (Actinia equina) – Pferdeaktinie …


… but no name is more appropriate for this flashy animal than the italian term: pomodoro di mare – sea tomato


I photographed the sea creatures while paddling through this arch.

near Galeria / mouth of Fango, 23.5.

cirl bunting – Zaunammer (1)


The Fango estuary is definitely worth staying longer.

Forêt de Bonifatu / Auberge de la Fôret, 24.5.

great tit – Kohlmeise (-); blue tit – Blaumeise (-); blackbird – Amsel (-); coal tit – Tannenmeise (-); common firecrest – Sommergoldhähnchen (-); blackcap – Mönchsgrasmücke (-); great spotted woodpecker – Buntspecht (-); spotted flycatcher – Grauschnäpper (-); Eurasian treecreeper – Waldbaumläufer (-); jay – Eichelhäher (-); robin – Rotkehlchen (-); woodpigeon – Ringeltaube (-); cuckoo – Kuckuck (-); alpine swift – Alpensegler (-); grey wagtail – Gebirgsstelze (-); wren – Zaunkönig (-)


Tafoni: the typical Corsican rock formation – a kind of weathering that leads to cavities in the stone


camping danger # 196: when walking in camp feels more like rolling


Bears in Corsica? There are no bears on the island, it was a fox. I surprised it, when I came by early in the morning.


At least we found this „mouflon“. Appreciation by artists helps to get attention for species.


the Corsican coast just south of moulin Mattei

Ostriconi campground / north of Corsica; 25.5.-27.5.

collared dove – Türkentaube (-); Cetti’s warbler – Seidensänger (2); Eurasian turtle dove – Turteltaube (1); nightingale – Nachtigall (1); woodpigeon – Ringeltaube (-); red kite – Roter Milan (-); hoopoe – Wiedehopf (1); kestrel – Turmfalke (-); stonechat – Schwarzkehlchen (1); Eurasian swift – Mauersegler; black-crowned night heron – Nachtreiher (1); cattle egret – Kuhreiher (1); woodchat shrike – Rotkopfwürger (couple); blackbird – Amsel (-); greenfinch – Grünfink (-); Italian sparrow – Italiensperling (-); goldfinch – Distelfink (-); chaff finch – Buchfink (-); bee-eater – Bienenfresser (3); ringed plover – Sandregenpfeifer (1); hering gull – Silbermöwe (-); raven – Kolkrabe (-); hooded crow – Nebelkrähe (-); spotted flycatcher – Grauschnäpper (-); common moorhen – Teichhuhn (1); black coot – Blässhuhn (2); starling – Star (species?); great spotted woodpecker – Buntspecht (-); Sardinian warbler – Samtkopfgrasmücke (3+); jay – Eichelhäher (-); reed warbler – Teichrohrsänger (1); European serin – Girlitz (3); rabbit – Kaninchen (≈10); wild boar – Wildschwein – with several young; feces of pine marten; shrew (1)


a rabbit – Kaninchen: There were quite a few at Ostriconi.


woodchat shrike – Rotkopfwürger: After a 50-year-decline the species is believed to be basically extinct in Middle Europe. Therefore I was glad to find a pair adjacent to the campground.


nightingale – Nachtigall: I had a hard time to get this visually inconspicuous bird finally materialized in the canopy. Great creature!


Hooded crow – Nebelkrähe


cattle seem to provide the habitat for …


… this stonechat – Schwarzkehlchen


Cetti’s warbler – Seidensänger: also difficult to detect in the bush


chaff finch – Buchfink: at many campgrounds an intimate neighbor


collared dove – Türkentaube: collecting nest material at the campground


Eurasian turtle dove – Turteltaube: the deep, vibrating “turrr, turrr”, from which the bird’s name is derived, is a basic ingredient that adds to the atmosphere on Corsican campgrounds.


An Italien sparrow – Italien-Sperling: another not shy at all neighbor, this one swiping a piece of dry spaghetti.


curry plant (Helichrysum italicum) – Immortelle: This plant is sometimes used as a spice in Mediterranean cuisine. Although called „curry plant“ and smelling like curry powder, it has nothing whatsoever to do with this mixture of spices, nor with the curry tree (Murraya koenigii), and is not used as masala for curry dishes either.


In appearance this could be a true wild boar. It was accompanied by a bunch of piglets.


Corsican pond turtle (Emys orbicularis lanzai) Korsische Sumpfschildkröte: great discovery!


moon (subspecies: corsicana) 😉


great spotted woodpecker – Buntspecht


Sardinian warbler – Samtkopfgrasmücke …


… who was that taxonomist who translated Sylvia melanocephala into „Sardinian warbler“ and „Samtkopf-Grasmücke“ respectively?! And Sylvia sarda into „Marmora’s warbler“ and „Sardengrasmücke“?! What a confusion – grrrr!


European serin – Girlitz


Another one of these cute lagomorphs


pine marten scat. Diameter of ring: 2 cm. From the size of the scat it can only come from a pine marten – But I am still not quite convinced.

Pine marten

According to different sources (1,2,3 – partially contradictory) there is only two species from the mustelid family (Mustelidae) occuring in Corsica: least weasel (Mustela nivalis) – Mauswiesel and European pine marten (Martes martes) – Baummarder.

Therefore the feces I found at Ostriconi (see photo) – starting from the size – can only come from a pine marten. On the other hand it seems strange to me that an arboreal species like the pine marten would wander around at Ostriconi, an basically aquatic habitat, with trees, but not a real forest.

„Ostriconi shrew“

One evening on the way back to camp we found a shrew running infront of us on the trail. It was almost dark and therefore visibility was low, but by the size and the way of running I could clearly identify the animal as a shrew. Curiously enough the shrew kept running on the trail for about 40! meters. Since we had nothing with us to capture it, we eventually took over – but only to welcome the shrew again at our tent (another 100m! further – and I am sure it was the same shrew!!) It took refuge under our tent and was not seen again.

According to Aulagnier et al. (2009) two species of shrew (Spitzmäuse) inhabit Corsica: Lesser white-toothed shrew (Crocidura suaveolens) – Gartenspitzmaus – and Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus) – Etruskerspitzmaus – smallest mammal of Europe! (bodylength: 3,5-5,3 cm; weight: 1,5-2,2 g)

Because of the size I exclude the Etruscan shrew.

During the drive along the west coast of the „finger“, 27.5.

red-legged partridge – Rothuhn (1)


Presumably a forest caterpillar hunter (Calosoma sycophanta) – Großer Puppenräuber. At Moulin Mattei / Cap Corse there were several of them flying around.

Barcaggio, Cap Corse

cirl bunting – Zaunammer (couple); goldfinch – Distelfink (3); house martin – Mehlschwalbe (≈5); barn swallow – Rauchschwalbe (1); herring gull – Silbermöwe (10+); raven – Kolkrabe (1); subalpine warbler – Weißbartgrasmücke (1); common ringed plover – Sandregenpfeifer (2); Italian sparrow – Italiensperling (1); hegdehog – Igel (wandering the streets in bright daylight)


West European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) – Braunbrustigel: This little fellow seemed pretty lost in the streets of Barcaggio.


female Italian sparrow (Passer italiae) – Italiensperling …


… taking a shower


yellow horn poppy (Glaucium flavum) – Gelber Hornmohn: showy and deadly poisonous


common ringed plover – Sandregenpfeifer


Yellow-legged gull – Mittelmeermöwe

Macinaggio, Cap Corse, 27.5.

at Camp site: scops owl – Zwergohreule (-); Eurasian nightjar – Ziegenmelker (1); great tit – Kohlmeise (couple); serin – Girlitz (species?). Iles Finocchiarola: European herring gull – Silbermöwe (≈100); missed: Audouin’s gull – Korallenmöwe


Iles Finocchiarola: There should be Audouin’s gull, which I missed

Crossing from Bastia/Corsica zu Genua. 28.5.

European herring gull – Silbermöwe (≈5);

two groups of dolphins (≈2-3 and ≈5 animals).

In the area four species of dolphins are to be seen most likely: common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) – Gemeiner Delfin; Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) – Rundkopfdelfin; striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) – Streifendelfin; bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) – Großer Tümmler.

I could see myself only the smaller group and only for a split second. The animals I saw appeared to be rather small, longnosed and uniformely dark. Because of the size, the form of the nose and because no lighter patches on the upper sides were visible, I guess they were common dolphins.


mammals (7)

red fox (Vulpes vulpes ichnusae) – Rotfuchs

wild boar (Sus scrofa) – Wildschwein

lesser white-toothed shrew (Crocidura suaveolens) – Gartenspitzmaus

West European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) – Braunbrustigel

? European pine marten (Martes martes) – Baummarder

European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) – Wildkaninchen

? common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) – Gemeiner Delfin

birds (60)

alpine swift – Alpensegler

barn swallow – Rauchschwalbe

blackcap – Mönchgrasmücke

black coot – Blässhuhn

black-crowned night heron – Nachtreiher

blue rock thrush – Blaumerle

blue tit – Blaumeise

cattle egret – Kuhreiher

Cetti’s warbler – Seidensänger

chaffinch – Buchfink

chiffchaff – Zilpzalp

cirl bunting – Zaunammer

coal tit – Tannenmeise

common firecrest – Sommergoldhähnchen

common moorhen – Teichhuhn

common ringed plover – Sandregenpfeifer

crag martin – Felsenschwalbe

domestic pigeon – Haustaube

Eurasian blackbird – Amsel

Eurasian buzzard – Mäusebussard

Eurasian collared dove – Türkentaube

Eurasian cuckoo – Kuckuck

Eurasian greenfinch – Grünfink

Eurasian jay – Eichelhäher

Eurasian kestrel – Turmfalke

European nightingale – Nachtigall

Eurasian bee-eater – Bienenfresser

Eurasian turtle dove – Turteltaube

European shag – Krähenscharbe

Eurasian hoopoe – Wiedehopf

Eurasian reed warbler – Teichrohrsänger

Eurasian swift – Mauersegler

Eurasian treecreeper – Waldbaumläufer

European goldfinch – Distelfink

European robin – Rotkehlchen

European serin – Girlitz

golden eagle – Steinadler

great spotted woodpecker – Buntspecht

great tit – Kohlmeise

grey wagtail – Gebirgsstelze

hooded crow – Nebelkrähe

Italian sparrow – Italiensperling

house martin – Mehlschwalbe

long-tailed tit – Schwanzmeise

? mistle thrush – Misteldrossel

pallid swift – Fahlsegler

raven – Kolkrabe

red kite – Roter Milan

rock dove – Felsentaube

Sardinian warbler – Samtkopfgrasmücke

scops owl – Zwergohreule

spotted flycatcher – Grauschnäpper

starling – Star (species?)

stonechat – Schwarzkehlchen

Moltoni’s warbler – Ligurien-Bartgrasmücke

water pipit – Bergpieper

woodchat shrike – Rotkopfwürger

woodpigeon – Ringeltaube

wren – Zaunkönig

yellow-legged gull – Mittelmeermöwe


mouflon: I did not really search for it intensely, but from reading and talking to people it seems it is not an easy task to see one. I also missed Corsican nuthatch (Sitta whiteheadi) – Korsenkleiber, Corsican finch (Carduelis corsicana) – Korsischer Zitronengirlitz and Audouin’s gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii) – Korallenmöwe. For the Corsican finch I did not have the opportunity to search in the right habitat. For the Audouin’s gull I had just one evening at Iles Finocchiarola and was too late to search intensively. For the Corsican nuthatch I looked at Ristonica Valley and Fôret de Bonifatu. I checked five times at the two sites: without success.


0 Aulagnier et al., 2009: Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Bloomsbury.

1 Kranz, A., Tikhonov, A., Conroy, J., Cavallini, P., Herrero, J., Stubbe, M., Maran, T. & Abramov, A. 2008. Martes martes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T12848A3389453. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T12848A3389453.en. Downloaded on 15 June 2016.

 2 http://droitnature.free.fr/NouveauSite/telechargement/fouine_vic.pdf

3 Görner, Martin und Hackethal, Hans. 1988: Säugetiere Europas“. Enke Verlag

4 http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/0MInsectivor/Soricidae/Crocidura/Crocidura_suaveolus/Crocidura_suaveolus.htm

5 http://www.planet-mammiferes.org/drupal/node/60?photo=8&zone=17