Corsica - the Scented Isle - is one of the most rugged and mountainous of all Mediterranean islands, and still largely untouched by tourist development. From the clear, deep blue seas of the coast, up through the lush green forests of the lower slopes to the white snow-capped peaks of its 3000-metre mountains, the island offers a superb variety of scenery and wildlife. Much of the northern half of Corsica has been declared a National Park - just recognition for its stunning scenery, amazing birdlife and rich natural history.
The island’s long isolation from mainland Europe has resulted in a high incidence of endemism in its flora and fauna. Our May tour is carefully timed both to maximise the variety of birds and other wildlife we should see - and to take advantage of the season's first direct flights from London to Bastia. Possible butterflies include Corsican Swallowtail and Corsican Red Underwing Skipper, and wildflowers can also be superb at this season with more than 15 species of orchid to look for.
We begin our tour in the central mountains, seeking the endemic Corsican Nuthatch and Corsican Finch – the former is restricted to Corsica's ancient pine forests; the latter rather more widespread on the island. Our base for the first four nights is a family-run hotel at the start of the enchanting Restonica Gorge, in the heart of the picturesque Corsica National Park. Scops Owls call from the trees around our hotel, which makes the perfect base from which to search for high-level specialities such as Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush and Alpine Chough. Red Kites are everywhere and we will also enjoy seeing Italian Sparrow and the recently split Mediterranean Flycatcher.
Descending to Corsica's northeast coast for the second part of our holiday, we will search for Audouin’s Gull and Scopoli’s Shearwater around the shore, plus an excellent range of other Mediterranean birds - from exotic Bee-eaters to Moltoni’s Warbler (a recent taxonomic ‘split’ from Subalpine Warbler), and Woodchat Shrike with its badius form that is unique to the region. Included in our itinerary is a visit to the island’s most important wetland, the Étang de Biguglia, which in May can hold numbers of herons, waders, gulls and warblers.
May is also an important month for migrants passing north through Corsica to their breeding grounds elsewhere in Europe. Most choose to avoid the mountainous interior and instead skirt along the island’s spectacular coastline - so at Bastia, we shall be ideally placed to encounter some of these.
North of Bastia, Cap Corse is one of the best migration watchpoints in the western Mediterranean. Our previous visits here have turned up a plethora of grounded migrants, as well as the resident Marmora’s Warbler - another warbler ‘split’, with those occurring on Corsica now being recognised as a distinct species to that found in the Balearic Islands.
Join us for Corsica in May and let us introduce you to this breathtakingly beautiful island, on a two-centre tour that’s designed to show you the very best of Corsica's birds and wildlife - at quite the loveliest time of year!