Corsica 18th to 25th of September 2004

Lasse Bergendorf and Tommi Sandberg spend week 39 in the beautiful French Island Corsica. The main reason for the trip was to find and photograph the amphibian and reptile fauna.

Thanks to our club100 colleagues Anders & Per and our mail contacts Jan Van Der Voort & Jeroen Speybroeck who gave us useful information to the Corsican herpspecies, before we began our journey. The fact that I visited the Island in 2002 also did that we found most of them.

To our surprise the Island was very green and fresh looking with lots of flowers, butterflies and birds. Not burned out as other Mediterranean areas after the hot summer months. Temperature around 25 °C and no rain made the journey very pleasant.

18th of Sept, Saturday
Flew from Copenhagen 17 p.m. to Bastia in the north-east of Corsica. Drove with rental car to Calvi at the west coast where we had booked a hotel room. After at least tree tours around the city we finally found our hotel around 10.30 p.m.

19th of Sept, Sunday
Early in the morning we drove from Calvi on the D 81b road to the south. Our plans was to go down to the little village Piana and stay one night there. Just a few km from Calvi we saw the first Tyrrhenian Wall Lizards (Podarcis tiliguerta) that is very common in Corsica. We saw lots of them during the rest of the week.

South of the completely dried-out Fangu river we found a little creek that looked very promising for amphibians. We parked our car and climbed down to the creek. Along the stream we found Corsican Painted Frog (Discoglossus montalentii), Pool Frog (Pelophylax lessonae) and some very small larvaes of Corsican Brook Newt (Euproctus montanus). When we came up to the car a snake crawled up the rocky slope. It was an adult Western Wip Snake (Hierophis viridiflavus).

At the roadjunction of D81 and D524 we found some beautiful butterflies like the large Two-tailed Pasha (common over the whole Island) and the even more beautiful Plain Tiger.

Two-tailed Pasha, © Tommi Sandberg Plain Tiger, © Tommi Sandberg

Via Porto we arrived in Piana around 6 p.m. and found a hotel for the night. Near the hotel we found a Tyrrhenian Painted Frog (Discoglossus sardus) in a small garden pond!

The main reason to go here was to look for the small and shy European Leaf-toed Gecko (Euleptes europaea). From Jan VDV we had exact info to a spot with two large granite rocks along the D824 road southwest of Piana. After a tasty dinner we arrived at the local about 8.30 in darkness. It took us just 10 minutes to find the first gecko in the flashlights upon one of the two rocks. An hour later we had found two more adults and one young animal.
Quite pleased we drove back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

20th of Sept, Monday
In the morning we drove back to Porto and then eastwards uphills to Col de Vergio. Up here we found the first Bedriaga's Rock Lizard (Archaeolacerta bedriagae) together with Tyrrhenian Wall Lizards (Podarcis tiliguerta).

In Haut Asco later in the evening we found a for us long awaited, beautiful, adult Corsican Fire Salamander (Salamandra corsica) and also a young Corsican Painted Frog (Discoglossus montalentii) just above the skicenter. Then we made a nonstop drive back to Calvi.

Col de Vergio, © Lasse Bergendorf Haut Asco ski center, © Lasse Bergendorf

21st of Sept, Tuesday
We started with a four-hour drive to the very north part of the Island at Cap Corse. Here we found a Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus), lots of Pool Frog (Pelophylax lessonae) and a Western Wip Snake (Hierophis viridiflavus).

Later before darkness we spend some hours at the big lake Etang de Biguglia south of Bastia. Found one adult Tyrrhenian Tree Frog (Hyla sarda) in a bush and even heard some calls of Hyla and Pool Frog (Pelophylax lessonae). Another nonstop drive took us back to Calvi.

The north tip of Cap Corse (and Corsica), © Lasse Bergendorf Lake Etang de Biguglia, © Lasse Bergendorf

22nd of Sept, Wednesday
In the early morning we drove for another two day tour. First stop was near Piedipartino. We found two very small young Corsican Painted Frogs (Discoglossus montalentii) beside a stream (I found two adults back in 2002 in the same stream).

A very fast drive on the N198 road at the eastcoast took us to Bonifacio at the south part of Corsica. Took some pictures of the nice town before we drove westwards to Campomoro known for its old historical tower. Jeroen S had informed us this spot for the Leaf-toed Gecko up in the area around the tower just south of the village.

We found a little hotel and after a nice dinner we walked to the tower in darkness. Searching for about 3 hours gave us a Scorpion but no gecko. When we came back to the village we found one European Leaf-toed Gecko (Euleptes europaea) on a house wall just 30 m from our hotel!! On the same wall we also had a Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus). Another good nights sleep after some well deserved whiskys.

Tommi herphunting, © Lasse Bergendorf The classic view of Bonifacio town, © Lasse Bergendorf
Scorpion at the Campomoro tower at night, © Lasse Bergendorf The house (the first little one) in Campomoro village where we found geckos, © Lasse Bergendorf

23rd of Sept, Thursday
Drove to Cascades anglais in the morning and spend some hours along the Agnoneriver near Vizzavona. Found tree adult Corsican Painted Frogs (Discoglossus montalentii) and two Bedriaga's Rock Lizard (Archaeolacerta bedriagae). Back in Calvi just before darkness.

The beautiful Cascades des Anglais, © Lasse Bergendorf Lasse resting at Cascades des Anglais, © Lasse Bergendorf

24th of Sept, Friday
In Corte we drove into the Restonica valley at around 10 a.m. In the first creek that flows into the Restonica-river we found three adult and one young Corsican Brook Newts (Euproctus montanus). Almost broke my arms and legs when I fell on a slippery stone! Back where we had parked our car we also saw and heard the endemic Corsican Nuthatch. Another sight of a Western Wip Snake (Hierophis viridiflavus) ended the Restonica visit. We drove some small roads back to Calvi before darkness.

Tommi in Restonica valley beside the creek with Brook Newts, © Lasse Bergendorf Some friends in Restonica valley, © Lasse Bergendorf

25th of Sept, Saturday
The last day of our journey. After we had checked out from our hotel at 10 a.m. we just drove a short tour in the Calvi area. At the very last stop we found the last species in our Corsican wishlist. The very small and tiny lizard Pygmy Algyroides (Algyroides fitzingeri) on a wall along the road.

Habitat for Pygmy Algyroides, © Lasse Bergendorf Calvi town, © Lasse Bergendorf

At 17 p.m. By bus back to the airport in Bastia and then via Copenhagen to Helsingborg in south Sweden.

The wonderful weather and the nearly complete herplist made the week in Corsica to one of the best journeys I and Tommi have made so far.

/Lasse Bergendorf

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