Norfolk Birders

Norfolk Birdwatching and beyond!


                                  Sardinia and Corsica Trip Report                  By Sue Bryan


July 1st – July 4th  2011



Sue Bryan

 Paul Jeffery

  Robert Fuge

Lisa Lawrence




                                                                                                  Rob, Lisa, Sue and Paul.




Paul was looking for somewhere to treat me for my birthday and between us we came up with the suggestion of a long weekend away in Corsica. We invited Rob and Lisa to join us as we have shared a few birding holidays with Rob before and have always enjoyed his company. It was lovely to have Lisa along with us as this was meant to be a relaxing weekend with good company, good food, good wine and beer in a great climate with a little birding thrown in. Paul and I both wanted to see Corsican Nuthatch and Corsican Citril Finch and so with only two target birds we thought anything else was a bonus, giving us plenty of time to relax and chill out!


After a little research on the web I realised that we needed to fly to Sardinia, where we could hire a car and cross over to Corsica on the ferry.




July 1st  Stansted - Alghero (Sardinia) - Santa Teresa – Bonifacio (Corsica) – Venaco

July 2nd Venaco – Restonica Valley – Aleria

July 3rd Aleria –Bonifacio – Santa Teresa (Sardinia) – Porto Torres

July 4th Porto Torres – Alghero- Stansted




We booked flights with that cost £182 each to fly from Stansted to Alghero in Sardinia. This is a rather expensive time of year but being a birthday treat, birthdays cannot be moved! Being a budget airline it would be cheaper if you do not take any checked-in luggage and keep any hand luggage under 10kg. However, Paul and I always have cameras and a telescope as hand luggage and so we need a checked-in suitcase between us.


Car Hire


We booked a mid-sized car through from a link on the Ryanair website that cost us 200 Euros (£175). The car was an Opel automatic with a good-sized boot.




We did not pre-book the ferry as we did not know the car registration number and it seemed impossible to beat the system on the web page, but arrived in good time at the ferry terminal. The car and four passengers cost 224 Euros (£202) for the return trip.




We did not pre-book any accommodation but found suitable hotel accommodation in Venaco for £180 for the four of us including breakfast (which was fabulous); in Aleria for £72 per room including breakfast and in Porto Torres (Sardinia) for £70 per room including breakfast.




We found an ATM machine in a Santa Teresa to obtain some Euros as the airport at Alghero didn’t have an ATM machine. Both Corsica (French) and Sardinia (Italian) are rather expensive as both are in the Eurozone and we were in the ‘holiday season’.




At this time of year it was wonderfully hot and sunny with mid-day temperatures reaching 34 degrees celcius. It was warm enough to sit outside for breakfast and for our evening meals after dark.




The craggy mountains that reach to nearly 9000 feet had Corsican Pine trees on the lower slopes and the coastal areas were agricultural fields. There was also a mix of scrub on some of the rocky areas.


Daily Log


1st July

Leaving home at 3am, I drove to Stansted airport where Paul and I met up with Rob and Lisa to board the plane bound for Alghero, Sardinia. Once we had arrived in Sardinia, we hired the car from the airport and set off for the north of the island. En route to Santa Teresa we watched a Marsh Harrier, Ravens, Jackdaws, Spotless Starlings and many European Bee-eaters catching insects over agricultural fields. Arriving at Santa Teresa, we had a pleasant lunch in the town and found an ATM machine before putting the car on a ferry bound for Bonifacio in Corsica. 




       Paul and Sue on the quayside at Santa Teresa

Spotless Starlings and Hooded Crows were common as we waited at the quayside. We soon added House Martin, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, Common Kestrel and Common Swift. Once Paul had driven the car onto the ferry, the crossing took about an hour and we watched Yelkouan Shearwaters and Yellow-legged Gulls flying by the ferry. Shearwater numbers were low and we did not see any expected Cory Shearwaters. The approach to Bonifacio, Corsica was lovely and we took a few photographs as we enjoyed the weather.












                                                                              Bonifacio Corsica   


Spotted Flycatcher

On arrival at Bonifacio in Corsica Paul drove to the mountains and headed for Vezzani. We stopped to admire four Corsican Citril Finches in the village as well as Serins, Cirl Buntings, Blackcaps, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Spotted Flycatchers. The sparrows were abundant and the male Italian Sparrows looked superb in their summer plumage. A Grey Wagtail flitted about on the road as we searched around and took photos.


We drove on to Venaco where we found a lovely hotel in the mountains where Rob negotiated a good price for a shared room in this very expensive location with its stunning views. We enjoyed an outdoor meal washed down with wine and beer.






























                                   Hotel in Venaco                                       Views from Venaco


July 2nd


Because of our early morning flight yesterday we all managed to oversleep and awoke much later than anticipated. However none of us was that bothered because we had a stunning breakfast sitting on the terrace of the hotel feasting on the 10 or more varieties of home-made marmalades and many differing croissants. Paul was determined to sample all of the croissants on offer as I was to try the fig marmalade as we watched Red Kites circling overhead. After copious amounts of coffee and tea we strolled around the village and enjoyed the scenery and sun.

























After bidding our host au revoir, Paul drove to the Restonica Valley, a beautiful Corsican Pine Forest set in a gorge-like valley with the mountains towering above on either side. Here we watched a Blue Rock Thrush that I spotted high up on the rocks above us as well as a Peregrine and Alpine Choughs flying above us. We stopped many times listening for Corsican Nuthatch without success, but saw Long-tailed Tits as we enjoyed a few beers at a restaurant. Silver-washed Fritillaries seemed common in the sun. Crossbill, Jay and Treecreeper were added to the list but we failed miserably to hear or see the nuthatch. A Crag Martin flew by as Paul shouted that he was watching two Lammergeiers flying over the ridge. Unfortunately I had climbed up the hillside and my line of vision was obscured by the trees. Rob managed a split second view before both birds disappeared over the ridge never to reappear. Curses!!!













                                 Restonica Valley                                      Silver-washed Fritillary

As the day was progressing we cut our losses and we made our way to the D69 where many birders have seen the nuthatch. Unfortunately this road is currently barred as blasting operations are taking place to widen the road. Many trees have been felled and suitable habitat lost. After a quick search we motored down the D343 towards Vivario, where stopping in suitable habitat several times, Paul heard a quick snatch of a call of the nuthatch. With patience, we eventually had good views of a pair of Corsican Nuthatch as they landed on the trees around us giving their scolding call.











              Paul watching Woodchat Shrikes with Lisa and Rob                                        Red Kite

Driving back down to Aleria we stopped to admire a few Woodchat Shrikes, Red Kikes and Corn Buntings sat on the wires. European Bee-eaters flew low over the fields catching insects. We found a hotel in town and enjoyed another outdoor meal with a few more alcoholic beverages.

European Bee-eater















July 3rd

Starting the day watching Fan-tailed Warblers and listening to Cettis Warblers we made our way to the local reservoir at Teppi Rossi. Here we admired European Bee-eaters sat on wires and after watching a few Coot, Mallard and Pochard we watched a Purple Heron standing statue-like in the shallows. Grey Heron, Little Egret and a Stonechat were added to the list and Rob managed to see a Hobby. A Nightingale called from somewhere in the tangle of bushes at the side of an industrial plant.

At Etang d'Urbina we found an idyllic restaurant where after emptying a few beer cans and carafes of wine we weren't much good for birding!

    Sue Rob Lisa and Paul enjoying life!












We decided to stay put and ordered a gastronomic delight in a few bowls of Mussels, a plateful of Sardines and dessert all washed down with yet more wine and beer.

         Yellow-legged Gull











The tempo was delightful and the climate excellent. We enjoyed our lunch with the local Yellow-legged Gulls who sat all around us waiting no doubt for a few offerings from our lunch. Black-headed Gull and Cormorant were added to this list but a distant tern went unidentified. Hardly surprising given our now double vision! How we wished we could stay longer.













                                               Lisa and Rob                                                    Sue and Paul

However after a few hours the ferry beckoned, but it was not to be, as the boat was broken and sent for repair. We had a bit of a 'kerfuffle' as we had to re-book with another company who sent out for another ship to rescue us.  Lisa, Rob and I were separated from Paul who was instructed to reverse the car backwards onto the ferry. We have never seen this way of loading before and it was fascinating to watch all the drivers reverse on from our position on the top deck.












         Reversing onto the ferry at Bonifacio                                   Bonifacio

As we sailed from the harbour Rob noticed a pair of Alpine Swifts amongst the Common Swifts screaming around the cliff face. Several hours later we arrived back on Sardinia but not before having a thousand plus Yelkouan Shearwaters and a hundred Cory's Shearwaters pass by us on the ferry. The late afternoon crossing seems to add to the numbers.

Paul drove for a few hours and as it got dark we arrived in Porto Torres. We found a hotel by the harbour and made our way to a local square where once again we sampled the local pizzas on this Italian island all washed down with the local beer and wine. It was good to be sat outside in the warm of the evening. 

4th July

After breakfast Paul drove us to the airport at Alghero where we boarded our plane to Stansted for our 2 hour flight home. It had been an excellent weekend and I would like to thank Paul, Rob and Lisa for making it so enjoyable.

Systematic Checklist




1.                  Levantine (Yelkouan) Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan yelkouan 01/07/2011 Santa Teresa           

2.                  European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmariestii 01/07/2011          Santa Teresa   

3.                  Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus        01/07/2011      Alghero           

4.                  Common Buzzard Buteo buteo arrigonii 01/07/2011     Alghero           

5.                  Common Kestrel          Falco tinnunculus          01/07/2011      Alghero           

6.                  Peregrine Falcon           Falco peregrinus           01/07/2011      Santa Teresa   

7.                  Western Yellow-legged Gull     Larus cachinnans (michahellis) 01/07/2011        Alghero           

8.                  European Turtle-dove   Streptopelia turtur         01/07/2011      Santa Teresa   

9.                  Eurasian Collared-dove            Streptopelia decaocto   01/07/2011      Alghero           

10.              Common Swift Apus apus        01/07/2011      Alghero           

11.              European Bee-eater      Merops apiaster           01/07/2011      Santa Teresa   

12.              Barn Swallow   Hirundo rustica 01/07/2011      Alghero           

13.              House Martin   Delichon urbica 01/07/2011      Alghero           

14.              Eurasian Jackdaw         Corvus monedula          01/07/2011      Alghero           

15.              Hooded Crow  Corvus corone sardonicus         01/07/2011      Alghero           

16.              Common Raven            Corvus corax    01/07/2011      Santa Teresa   

17.              Spotless Starling           Sturnus unicolor            01/07/2011      Santa Teresa   

18.              Italian Sparrow Passer domesticus italiae           01/07/2011      Alghero           

19.              European Goldfinch      Carduelis carduelis tschusii 03/07/2011 Santa Teresa   







1.                  Little Grebe      Tachybaptus ruficollis    03/07/2011      Teppi Rossi     

2.                  Great Crested Grebe    Podiceps cristatus         03/07/2011      Teppi Rossi     

3.                  Cory's Shearwater        Calonectris diomedea   03/07/2011      Bonifacio         

4.                  Levantine (Yelkouan) Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan yelkouan 03/07/2011         Bonifacio         

5.                  Northern Gannet           Morus bassanus            03/07/2011      Bonifacio         

6.                  Great Cormorant          Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis 03/07/2011         Etang d'Urbino

7.                  European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmariestii 01/07/2011          Bonifacio         

8.                  Little Egret        Egretta garzetta 03/07/2011      Teppi Rossi     

9.                  Grey Heron      Ardea cinerea   03/07/2011      Aleria  

10.              Purple Heron    Ardea purpurea            03/07/2011      Teppi Rossi     

11.              Greater Flamingo          Phoenicopterus ruber    03/07/2011      Etang d'Urbino

12.              Mallard            Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos         03/07/2011      Teppi Rossi     

13.              Common Pochard        Aythya ferina    03/07/2011      Teppi Rossi     

14.              Red Kite          Milvus milvus    02/07/2011      Venaco           

15.              Common Buzzard         Buteo buteo arrigonii 02/07/2011          Restonica Valley          

16.              Osprey Pandion haliaetus          03/07/2011      Etang d'Urbino

17.              Common Kestrel          Falco tinnunculus          01/07/2011      Bonifacio         

18.              Peregrine Falcon           Falco peregrinus           02/07/2011      Restonica Valley          

19.              Eurasian Coot   Fulica atra        03/07/2011      Teppi Rossi     

20.              Western Yellow-legged Gull     Larus cachinnans michahellis 01/07/2011          Bonifacio         

21.              Black-headed Gull        Larus ridibundus           03/07/2011      Etang d'Urbino

22.              Wood Pigeon   Columba palumbus       01/07/2011      Vezzani           

23.              Alpine Swift      Tachymarptis melba      03/07/2011      Bonifacio         

24.              European Bee-eater      Merops apiaster           01/07/2011      Bonifacio         

25.              Great Spotted Woodpecker     Dendrocopos major parroti 01/07/2011            Vezzani           

26.              Eurasian Crag-martin    Hirundo rupestris          02/07/2011      Restonica Valley          

27.              Barn Swallow   Hirundo rustica 01/07/2011      Bonifacio         

28.              House Martin   Delichon urbica 01/07/2011      Bonifacio         

29.              Grey Wagtail    Motacilla cinerea          01/07/2011      Vezzani           

30.              European Robin            Erithacus rubecula         01/07/2011      Vezzani           

31.              Common Stonechat      Saxicola torquata torquata        03/07/2011      Aleria  

32.              Blue Rock-thrush          Monticola solitarius       02/07/2011      Restonica Valley          

33.              Eurasian Blackbird        Turdus merula   02/07/2011      Restonica Valley          

34.              Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis           03/07/2011      Aleria  

35.              Blackcap          Sylvia atricapilla            01/07/2011      Vezzani           

36.              Spotted Flycatcher       Muscicapa striata          01/07/2011      Vezzani           

37.              Long-tailed Tit  Aegithalos caudatus iribii 02/07/2011    Restonica Valley          

38.              Coal Tit            Parus ater sardus 02/07/2011   Restonica Valley          

39.              Great Tit           Parus major corsus 01/07/2011            Vezzani           

40.              Blue Tit            Parus caeruleus cogliastrae 01/07/2011 Vezzani           

41.              Corsican Nuthatch        Sitta whiteheadi 02/07/2011     D343 near Vivario       

42.              Eurasian Treecreeper    Certhia familiaris           02/07/2011      Restonica Valley          

43.              Woodchat Shrike         Lanius senator  badius 02/07/2011       Aleria  

44.              Eurasian Jay     Garrulus glandarius corsicanus 01/07/2011        Bonifacio         

45.              Yellow-billed Chough   Pyrrhocorax graculus    02/07/2011      Restonica Valley          

46.              Hooded Crow  Corvus corone sardonicus 01/07/2011  Bonifacio         

47.              Common Raven            Corvus corax    01/07/2011      Bonifacio         

48.              Spotless Starling           Sturnus unicolor            01/07/2011      Bonifacio         

49.              Italian Sparrow Passer domesticus italiae           01/07/2011      Bonifacio         

50.              Chaffinch          Fringilla coelebs tyrrhenica 01/07/2011 Vezzani           

51.              European Serin Serinus serinus  01/07/2011      Vezzani           

52.              Corsican Citril-finch      Serinus citrinella corsicana         01/07/2011      Vezzani           

53.              European Greenfinch    Carduelis chloris madarszi 02/07/2011  Vivario

54.              European Goldfinch      Carduelis carduelis tschusii        01/07/2011      Bonifacio         

55.              Red Crossbill    Loxia curvirostra Corsicana 02/07/2011           Restonica Valley          

56.              Cirl Bunting      Emberiza cirlus 01/07/2011      Vezzani

57.              Corn Bunting    Miliaria calandra           02/07/2011      Aleria  


Additional Species


1.                  Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus 02/07/2011 Restonica Valley (Paul and Rob)

2.                  Hobby Falco subbuteo 03/07/20011 Teppi Rossi (Rob)

3.                  Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 03/07/2011 Teppi Rossi (Paul)


Additional Species heard


1.                  Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti Aleria 03/07/2011

2.                  Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos Teppi Rossi 03/07/2011











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