The first animal that comes to mind while discussing about fauna in Corsica is the 1.5-meter-tall Corsican Horse – a National Stud with strong chest, sloping hindquarters, fine shoulders adorned with copious mane, slender dark bay colored body and fluffy tail.
Before the early men arrived in this island in around 10,000 B.C, there was no record of large mammals but bats and rodents. With the arrival of Neolithic people, numerous wild boars and the protected species Mouflon became common.
The Romans came with deer which are now under conservation at the maison du cerf or deer house in Quenza.
Regional National Park Of Corsica
The Parc Régional Naturel de Corse covering 40 percent inhabited rural territory has a fragile ecosystem with rich heritage value.
Within the marine habitats, swamps, freshwater lagoons, herbaceous habitats, moors, mountainous forests, there are a number of emblematic species like Corsican Bighorn Sheep, Little Owl, Red Ibis, European Otter, Peregrine Falcon, Starry Bittern, Common Crane, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Lynx and Leatherback Turtle.
Significant Wildlife In Corsica
With the diverse landscape favored by the Mediterranean climate around the coast and Alpine climate on higher altitudes, wildlife too has significant diversity. The mountain with some peaks rising above 2500 meters is rich in a plethora of habitats which are home to various rare birds. Let’s have a look –
- Red Kite – Quite a common avian species, this grey and red raptor with fork-like tail looks majestic enough while soaring high above the island. Although they are mostly seen alone, you can see a couple of them as a colony in Balagne as well as on east coast and Ajaccio.
- Lammergeier – Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier are endangered vulture with 3 meters of wingspan. A royalty of Corsican skies, their number has been alarmingly decreasing over the years and record of successful hatching is also scarce due to fall of numbers of pairs. You can watch them in Asco Valley, Restonica Valley, gorges in Scala di Santa Regina etc.
- Golden Eagle – While enjoying a mountain walk or driving along the mountain roads of Corsica, the sightings of Golden Eagles are not so uncommon as there are around 15 pairs of them above the 1000 meters of altitude. Know more about mountain walking and other activities in Corsica.
- Osprey –With excellent Mediterranean climate for breeding, around 25% of total Ospreys breeding in Mediterranean are from Corsica. Along the coastline spanning 98 kilometers in between Calvi and Cargese, the pairs have their territories where they make huge nests atop the inaccessible rocky clefts while sharing territory with Golden Eagles and Peregrine Falcons.
- Peregrine Falcon –With a round forty breeding pairs in Corsica, Peregrine Falcons share territory with Osprey and Golden Eagles and build nests high on the ridges. During summer months, while taking a boat tour from Calvi, Porto and Cargese.
- Corsican Nuthatch – The endemic diminutive Nuthatch species is seen in the pine grove at altitude of 800 to 1800 meters. Be patient and you will get a sighting.
- Blue Rock Thrush – Thriving both in the coastal region and mountains, these grey and blue birds are very common and have their nesting sites sprawling over 1800 meters of inland. Your best time to see them is during summer as they remain near the nesting area.
Corsican Marine Life
As a part of the RIMMO – Réserve Internationale Maritime en Méditerranée Occidentale, Corsican waters are rich in planktons which attract around three thousand whales and twenty five thousand dolphins, which is the highest in the Mediterranean. As for fish species, there are Mediterranean Tuna, Swordfish, Monkfish, Leerfish, Catfish, Bass, Grouper, Whiting, Mullet and Dentex.
Other sea creatures like Anchovy, Eel, Sea Spider, Squid, Shrimps, Lobster, Oyster, Scallop, Dublin Bay Prawns and Mussels are found here.
Corsican Reptiles And Insects
Corsica has abundant lizards and geckoes, the Leak-toed Gecko being a rare find amid the junipers. Black and yellow Corsican Salamander and Yellow and Green Grass Snakes are also common.
Be quiet while tracking the Cistude Tortoise that is not more than 2.5 meters in length and is found in Fango estuary, southern Calvi, Biguglia Lagoon and Pietracorbara. A Cupulatta at Vero and Moltifao Regional Natural Park is famous for the protected species of Hermann Tortoise.