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CORSICA & THE FRENCH ALPS

Saturday 1st May - Sunday 9th May 2010

Pete Morris

Corsican Nuthatch (Pete Morris)

Corsican Nuthatch (Pete Morris)

This year saw us returning to the original format for this lovely tour which visits some of the most scenic parts of southern Europe. Following a very cold winter, the spring was late and the whole of the Mediterranean area seemed to suffer a particularly cold and wet spring. To a small degree this affected us, and it wasn’t all shorts and t-shirt weather, especially not when it was snowing in the Alps!! Despite that, the weather always seemed to give us a long enough break when we needed it and indeed we recorded our highest ever total of species on this circuit, a very respectable 172, and this included just about all of the hoped for endemics and specialities. 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. Our time in the Alps was most pleasant and yielded the hoped for Rock Partridges (great scope views with minimal effort!) and a fine supporting cast which included lekking Black Grouse, a fine male Black Woodpecker, a superb pair of Wallcreepers, Alpine Accentor, White-winged Snowfinch and Citril Finch. Our final day in the lowlands near to Marseille rounded off a great tour with numerous Little Bustards, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoos and Calandra Larks being the pick of the bunch. During the tour we also admired great scenery, saw over 20 species of orchids and experienced some excellent cuisine (some great cheeseboards) and friendly hospitality, all washed down with fine French wine. Can’t be too bad?!

Rock Partridges (Pete Morris)

Rock Partridges (Pete Morris)