The Zoologist/4th series, vol 1 (1897)/Issue 672/Ornithological Notes from Corsica

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Ornithological Notes from Corsica  (1897) 
by Herbert Clement Playne

Published in: The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 1, issues 672 (June, 1897), p. 254–257


By Herbert C. Playne (Clifton College).

The days from the 10th to the 21st of April I spent in Corsica, walking from Ajaccio across the island over some high mountains to the east coast, where there is a tract of flat country, and then back again into the mountains to Corte. In some parts birds were very abundant, and the following is a list of the species I was able to identify. The birds were not so forward with their nesting as I had expected, and I found no nests at all containing eggs, though there were a good many nearly ready for them.

It is a land of Goldfinches and Serins, and Cirl Buntings too are very numerous.

Missel Thrush, Turdus viscivorus.—A few fairly high up in the mountains.

Blackbird, T. merula.— Fairly common.

Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola cyanus.—I saw a few among the mountains. The cock sings from the top of a rock, and then flies up in the air and descends, still singing, to another rock. I saw one descend in this way some distance down the mountain side.

Wheatear, Saxicola œnanthe.—One near the top of the mountains by Corte, and others by the sea-shore near Ajaccio.

Whinchat, Pratincola rubetra.—I saw one near Corte on April 20th.

Stonechat, P. rubicola.—Abundant.

Redstart, Ruticilla phœnicurus.—I saw a few only.

Redbreast, Erithacus rubecula.—Fairly common.

Nightingale, Daulias luscinia.—There were a few near the east coast, and near Ajaccio.

Sardinian Warbler, Sylvia melanocephala.—Abundant on the lower mountain slopes. His song seems to vary a good deal, and he has a rattling alarm-note. I found two nests, much like those of the Blackcap, not quite ready for eggs.

Blackcap, S. atricapilla.—Numerous.

Marmora's Warbler, Melizophilus sardus.—Very abundant on the mountain slopes; I tried for some time to find a nest, but unsuccessfully.

Fire-crested Wren, Regulus ignicapillus.—I saw several among the ilex trees on the mountains.

Willow Wren, Phylloscopus trochilus.—I found only one at Corte, and a few at Ajaccio.

Wood Wren, P. sibilatrix.—There were a few among the olive trees at Ajaccio.

Cettt's Warbler, Cettia cettii.—Abundant among the thick bushes on the lower ground. The cock frequently sings a few loud notes, and can be seen without much difficulty as he moves restlessly about the undergrowth. The hen keeps very quiet, and is not easy to find, but now and then she utters a rapid rattling call to the cock. After watching for some time I found a nest nearly ready for eggs on April 15th. It was placed about three feet from the ground among the dead stalks of a bramble-bush, and was substantially built of dry grass of the same colour, so that it was not easy to see at first. It was well lined with bits of wool and feathers.

Dipper, Cinclus aquaticus.—To be seen by the mountain streams.

Long-tailed Tit, Acredula caudata.—Fairly abundant.

Great Tit, Parus major.—Common.

Coal Tit, P. ater.—I only found it among the pines in the mountains.

Blue Tit, P. cæruleus.—Common.

Wren, Troglodytes parvulus.—Fairly abundant.

White Wagtail, Motacilla alba.—I only saw very few.

Grey Wagtail, M. melanope.—I saw several by the mountain streams.

Meadow Pipit, Anthus pratensis.—Fairly common in suitable places.

Woodchat Shrike, Lanius pomeranus.—I came upon a party of cock birds on April 15th near the east coast. They were flying about together and singing often, and were probably, I think, on migration. I saw several more after this day in other parts of the island.

Pied Flycatcher, Muscicapa atricapilla.—I saw two among the olive trees near Ajaccio.

Swallow, Hirundo rustica; House Martin, Chelidon urbica.—Common.

Crag Martin, Cotile rupestris.—On two occasions, when high up in the mountains, I had glimpses of birds which I feel sure must have been of this species.

Goldfinch, Carduelis elegans.—Very common in the lower parts of the island. They were in flocks, as though they had not paired. I one day saw more than twelve bathing together in a stream—a most beautiful sight.

Serin Finch, Serinus hortulanus.—These birds were as abundant in the higher ground as the Goldfinches were in the lower. They too were in flocks, singing and calling to each other all over the mountain slopes. The yellow rump is conspicuous when the bird is flying.

Greenfinch, Ligurinus chloris.—Common.

Hawfinch, Coccothraustes vulgaris.—I saw a small boy sitting in a village street plucking a dead Hawfinch, but did not meet with the bird alive.

House Sparrow, Passer domesticus.—I only saw a few.

Italian Sparrow, P. italiæ.—Abundant.

Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs.—Common; their songs seemed to me much more varied than they are in this country.

Linnet, Linota cannabina.—Common.

Common Bunting, Emberiza miliaria.—Common about the lower ground.

Cirl Bunting, E. cirlus.—Very common indeed on the mountain slopes; I have never seen them so numerous elsewhere.

Crested Lark, Alauda cristata.—Common.

Sardinian Starling, Sturnus unicolor.—I saw one flock near the east coast.

Jay, Garrulus glandarius.—Fairly common.

Hooded Crow, Corvus cornix.—Common, especially by the sea-coast.

Raven, C. corax.—Common.

Swift, Cypselus apus.—Seen first on April 19th.

White-bellied Swift, C. melba.—Seen on April 10th, but not again.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Picus major.—Seen several times.

Hoopoe, Upupa epops.—I saw the first on April 15th, and several others after that day.

Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus.—Common, but I did not meet with it till April 15th.

Common Buzzard, Buteo vulgaris.—Common.

Eagle.—I saw one Eagle, but at too great a distance to be able to identify it.

Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus.—I only saw one.

Common Kite, Milvus ictinus.—Very common. One day I sat on a mountain side while four of these birds kept sailing about quite close to my head.

Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus.—Seen on a few occasions.

Kestrel, F. tinnunculus.—Common.

Duck.—I saw a pair flying one day, but could not determine their species.

Rock Dove, Columba livia.—I found a colony of them inhabiting a curiously honeycombed rock high up in the mountains.

Partridge.—One evening on the mountains I put up a pair of Partridges, but could not be sure of their species.

Quail, Coturnix communis—There were plenty to be heard in the low-lying country by the east coast.

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