Welcome to Birdquest

CORSICA

Including the French Alps and Rock Partridge

Birdquest's short break Corsica birding tour visits one of the most scenically spectacular European birdwatching venues at the height of spring. Our Corsica tour targets such important specialities as the endemic Corsican Nuthatch and near-endemic Marmora's Warbler and Corsican Finch, as well as Scopoli's and Yelkouan Shearwaters, Audouin's Gull, Moltoni's Warbler, Italian Sparrow and perhaps Bearded Vulture. During the extension we will visit the French Alps, where our prime target is Rock Partridge, a European endemic bird that features on relatively few birder’s lists. Other good birds include Black Grouse, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Wallcreeper and Citril Finch.

Monday 6th May — Friday 10th May 2019
(5 days)


French Alps (Rock Partridge) Extension: Friday 10th May — Monday 13th May (4 days)

Leader: Mark Van Beirs

Group Size Limit: 7

Tour Category: Mostly easy walking and comfortable accommodations

Corsican Nuthatch - Corsica's bird superstar! (Pete Morris)

Corsican Nuthatch - Corsica's bird superstar! (Pete Morris)

Corsica is a great destination for a short break that combines some of the most stunning scenery that Europe has to offer with some of its most sought-after bird species. Corsica’s star birds include its endemic Corsican Nuthatch and near-endemic Corsican Finch and Marmora’s Warbler, as well as Moltoni’s Warbler and Italian Sparrow. Great cuisine, excellent local wines and comfortable accommodation all add to the attraction!

Corsica (or ‘Corse’ as it is known locally) has a unique character which has developed as a result of its long and complicated history. From the delightful Romanesque churches overlooking olive groves in the north to prehistoric statues lurking on stark plains interspersed with green valleys in the south, Corsica has a character all of its own. Invasion and resistance have been common themes throughout Corsica’s history and have only served to strengthen the islanders’ self-identity.

The geographical location of the island, on the west Mediterranean trade routes, and its sheltered harbours and protective mountains has historically made it of strategic importance for traders. The close proximity of several colonizing powers led to invasions by the Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans, each landing on the east coast of the island and driving the native Corsican people to take refuge in the mountains. Since the Romans were driven out 13 centuries ago, the island has undergone a succession of attacks and occupations, each fiercely resisted by the local folk. A period of independence in the 18th century has since been followed by French rule. However, even today Corsica still has her own language and many of the islanders would love to revert to an autonomous state!

Corsica boasts an astonishing array of natural landscapes and habitats making it a fascinating island for naturalists: splendid and relatively undeveloped Mediterranean coastlines, plains of tangled, aromatic maquis (Mediterranean heath), rolling verdant foothills, unspoilt ancient forests of endemic Corsican Pine and towering, snow-covered alpine peaks can all be found within a short distance of one another. The long-term isolation of the island has led to the evolution of a large number of endemic species of both plants and animals. At this time of year the flowers (which include numerous orchids) are truly fantastic and a number of interesting butterflies will be on the wing.

Of greatest interest to us, however, will be the superb endemic Corsican Nuthatch, the near-endemic Marmora’s Warbler and Corsican Finch, and Italian Sparrow. During our stay we will have a chance to explore much of this beautiful and fascinating island as we search for some of Corsica’s other specialities including Scopoli’s and Yelkouan Shearwaters, Bearded Vulture (or Lammergeier), Audouin’s Gull, Moltoni’s Warbler (split from Subalpine) and Alpine Chough.

During the optional extension we head northwards into the French Alps. The scenery here is equally stunning: crystalline mountain rivers cascade off the peaks and rush through alpine meadows and on through forests, some of which have not been logged for centuries. Higher up, colourful alpine meadows lie at the foot of lofty alpine peaks and are home to herds of Chamois. Here our attention will turn to one of Europe’s least-seen endemics, the Rock Partridge. We will scour the alpine meadows strewn with juniper scrub and nearby rocky outcrops and screes for this elusive gamebird.

As well as looking for our chief quarry, we should have a good chance of finding other typical alpine species including the impressive Black Grouse, Alpine Accentor, Common (or Rufous-tailed) Rock Thrush, Wallcreeper and Citril Finch (an interesting contrast to the Corsican Finches we will already have seen on Corsica).

Before returning home we will have time to visit another of the region’s ornithological treasures, La Crau. This beautiful stony plain is home to good numbers of Little Bustards, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Calandra Larks.

Birdquest has operated tours to Corsica and southern France since 1991.

French Alps-only Option: You may opt to take just the French Alps section as a stand-alone tour.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of good standard throughout. Most participants rate the food on this tour highly. Road transport is by minibus and roads are good.

Walking: The walking is mostly easy, but when we search for Rock Partridge in the Alps there will be one optional fairly demanding hike.

Climate: Warm, dry and sunny weather is interspersed with cool wet and overcast periods. At higher altitudes it may be cold, especially early in the morning.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £1090, €1290, $1430 Ajaccio/Ajaccio. Single Room Supplement: £140, €165, $183. Deposit: £300, €360, $390.

French Alps taken as an extension: £990, €13170, $1300 Marseilles/Marseilles. Single Room Supplement: £140, €165, $183. No additional deposit is required.

French Alps taken as a stand-alone tour: £990, €13170, $1300 Marseilles/Marseilles. Single Room Supplement: £140, €165, $183. Deposit: £300, €360, $390.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Please note that the Ajaccio-Marseilles flight is not included. If you are taking the French Alps as an extension it is more economical to incorporate this leg of the journey into your round-trip airline ticket from home.

Base prices for this tour are in Euros. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = €1.180 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Corsican Finch was split from Citirl Finch to become Corsica's second endemic alongside the Corsican Nuthatch (Pete Morris)

Corsican Finch was split from Citirl Finch to become Corsica's second endemic alongside the Corsican Nuthatch (Pete Morris)

Audouin's Gulls can be found in small numbers around the coast of Corsica though generally breed in inaccessible areas (Pete Morris)

Audouin's Gulls can be found in small numbers around the coast of Corsica though generally breed in inaccessible areas (Pete Morris)

Colourful Eurasian Hoopoes usually put in an appearance on Corsica (Pete Morris)

Colourful Eurasian Hoopoes usually put in an appearance on Corsica (Pete Morris)

Staying in the beautiful and historic town of Bonifacio is a real delight (Pete Morris)

Staying in the beautiful and historic town of Bonifacio is a real delight (Pete Morris)

The perky little Marmora's Warbler is restricted to Corsica and Sardinia as a breeding species (Pete Morris)

The perky little Marmora's Warbler is restricted to Corsica and Sardinia as a breeding species (Pete Morris)

The scarce Italian Sparrow is seen on no other Birdquest tour (Pete Morris)

The scarce Italian Sparrow is seen on no other Birdquest tour (Pete Morris)

Audouin's Gulls usually give some great views (Pete Morris)

Audouin's Gulls usually give some great views (Pete Morris)

The scarce badius form of Woodchat Shrike is restricted to the western Mediterranean islands (Juan Sagardia)

The scarce badius form of Woodchat Shrike is restricted to the western Mediterranean islands (Juan Sagardia)

A good selection of other attractive species occur on Corsica such as Firecrest (Pete Morris)

A good selection of other attractive species occur on Corsica such as Firecrest (Pete Morris)

... Common Crossbill (represented by an endemic subspecies) (Pete Morris)

... Common Crossbill (represented by an endemic subspecies) (Pete Morris)

... and Cirl Bunting (Pete Morris)

... and Cirl Bunting (Pete Morris)

With luck, some gorgeous butterflies can be seen such as this spectacular Two-tailed Pasha (Pete Morris)

With luck, some gorgeous butterflies can be seen such as this spectacular Two-tailed Pasha (Pete Morris)

... and the endemic Corsican Heath (Pete Morris)

... and the endemic Corsican Heath (Pete Morris)

May in the Mediterranean is an excellent time to see some spectacular orchids. This is a Barton's Orchid (Pete Morris)

May in the Mediterranean is an excellent time to see some spectacular orchids. This is a Barton's Orchid (Pete Morris)

The endemic Corsican Nuthatch can be found in Corsican Pine forest, especially up towards the tree line, and is home to the nuthatch! (Pete Morris)

The endemic Corsican Nuthatch can be found in Corsican Pine forest, especially up towards the tree line, and is home to the nuthatch! (Pete Morris)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

top of page

Website crafted by the Accent Design Group.

Valid CSS| Level A compliant on bobby| 508 compliant on bobby| Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional|