Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Nature of Corsica 10: Birds

Red Kites and crows
With a trip list for the week of only 66 species, Corsica was not the most species-rich place I have been birding, and birds were often hard to find, but we got good views of the endemic Corsican Nuthatch on several occasions, and the also endemic Corsican Finch twice. The Crossbills we found are not classed as an endemic species at present, but are classed as an endemic subspecies Loxia curvirostra corsicana. Taxonomy of the various forms of L. curvirostra is perhaps best described as “challenging” – there are numerous localised forms with different beak sizes depending on the dominant conifer cones they feed on, and many of these are prone to irruptive dispersal when the cone crop fails.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Nature of Corsica 9: Mammals

Free range domestic pig
Unfortunately, the only mammals we actually saw on Corsica were domesticated pigs and goats. One wild mammal however features very prominently in Corsican ecology, culture, and cuisine – the wild boar Sus scrofa. Hunting is a major pastime on Corsica, and when we were there it was a peak of the hunting season. More or less every day we would see trucks go by with hunting parties, and often heard shots from the hunters. I have to say that wild boar stews are extremely tasty. For those who have not eaten it, wild boar is a very dark, lean meat more like venison than pork.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Nature of Corsica 8: Reptiles

P.tiliguerta male
There are of course many species of reptiles on Corsica, but as this was a mainly bird and botany focussed holiday we did not go seeking them out especially. Despite this, we found at least three species of lizard, including the endemic Tyrrhenian Wall Lizard Podarcis tiliguerta. This was the most widely seen of all the lizards we found, occurring from sea level up to altitude, and they were obvious whenever the sun was out and they could bask.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Nature of Corsica 7: Corsican Fire Salamander
Widespread across Europe, North Africa and Parts of Turkey and the Middle East can be found a variety of species of large, warningly coloured salamanders. They vary from all-black in the Alpine Salamander S.atra to almost all-yellow in some forms of S.terrestris. In warmer climates they are mostly found at altitude, but in northern Europe they are found close to sea level. Their typical habitat is woodland, either deciduous or pine, but most forms require permanent or near-permanent water for their larvae, usually in the form of shallow streams.