July 1st July 4th 2011
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
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
July 1st Stansted - Alghero (Sardinia) - Santa Teresa Bonifacio (
July 2nd Venaco
July 3rd Aleria Bonifacio Santa Teresa (Sardinia)
We booked flights with www.ryanair.com that cost £182 each to fly from Stansted to Alghero in
We booked a mid-sized car through www.hertz.uk 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 www.mobylines.com 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 (
We found an ATM machine in a Santa Teresa to obtain some Euros as the airport at Alghero didnt have an ATM machine. Both Corsica (French) and
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.
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,
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
33. Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula 02/07/2011
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
38. Coal Tit Parus ater sardus 02/07/2011
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
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
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
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
56. Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus 01/07/2011 Vezzani
57. Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra 02/07/2011 Aleria
1. Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus 02/07/2011
2. Hobby Falco subbuteo 03/07/20011 Teppi Rossi (Rob)
3. Moorhen Gallinula chloropus 03/07/2011 Teppi Rossi (Paul)
Additional Species heard
1. Cettis Warbler Cettia cetti Aleria 03/07/2011
2. Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos Teppi Rossi 03/07/2011