Corse (Corsica il its native Italian name) is a wonderful island with an amazing nature, although in the last years the tourism is really increased and it’s almost impossible to find a solitary place during the summer months.
But in spring, when bad weather and the Mistral wind act as deterrents for many tourists, that’s the time to go seeing this pearl of the Mediterranean basin.
I went there many times, so I decided that was the time to write something positive about the Corse’s less known fauna, landscape and flora.
From North to South this island is a “contrast” (both socially and geographically) and its almost a bunch of mountains ending on Mediterranean “macchia”. The higher mountain is Monte Cinto (2706 m/a.s.l) and for this geological conformation the island is relatively more humid if compared to the near Sardinia and often called “the green island”.
We could divide the different vegetational landscapes from coast to the top of the mountains as: some thermomediterranean associations, mesomediterranean, supramediterranean, mountaineous, subalpine or oromediterranean and alpine.
Along coasts, in sandy habitats, the halophile vegetation is predominant. In this habitat is possible to see the Tyrrhenian Lizard (Podarcis tiliguerta) running in search of preys like rubber flies (Asilus sp.) and Sphingonotus uvarovi, a sand-adapted grasshopper with a very mimetic colour.
Another animal really interested on grasshoppers is Thanatus vulgaris, a spider belonging to the Family Philodromidae. I had the luck to see and impressive predation of this little speedy predator on La Rondinara beach.
Walking along the coasts of Corse and nearby islands like the marvellous Lavezzi, the halophile vegetation is represented by some very interesting species, like Matthiola tricuspidata, Euphorbia peplis, Euphorbia paralias and the beautiful and spiny Eryngium maritimum.
Every corner of the island shows some endemic species, like the Limonium bonifaciense that lives on the exposed rocks around Bonifacio.
The herpetofauna itself is very interesting and a lot of animals show a certain grade of endemicity or at least some peculiarities. The Western Whip Snakes (Hierophis viridiflavus) in Lavezzi island and Bonifacio area for example, show a black coloration with whitish spots, instead of the acid-green ones typical of the continental populations.
Another impressive animal is the Archaeolacerta bedriagae, a large and flattened rock lizard that inhabits the granitic formations at higher elevations. This species is also present in Sardinia, in similar habitats.
The are also endemic species, like the Corsican Painted Frog (Discoglossus montalentii), which is quite common on the island and sometimes shares its home with the Sardinian Painted Frog (Discoglossus sardus) and sometimes with another endemic species of Amphibian, the Corsican Brook Newt (Euproctus montanus), a strange salamander adapted to breed in very clean and cold mountain streams.
Many other species live in lowland Mediterranean biotopes, like the Tyrrhenian Wall Lizard (Podarcis tiliguerta) or the strange Pygmy Algyroides (Algyroides fitzingeri) or even the sand-lover Bufo viridis, a very widespread toad which prefers sand dunes and can breed even in salty water.
During spring and summer it’s almost impossible to miss the loud calls of the tiny but powerful males of Sardinian Tree frogs (Hyla sarda), which congregate around the pools to attract females.
It’s always astonishing to see such a little creature having such a strong voice, like a child screaming with a built-in megaphone!
Every corner of the island is an ode to Mediterranean wildlife and alpine biodiversity, passing from sea to mountain landscapes in less than a blink of an eye, resulting in a wonderful meltin’ pot of life that could be lost if we all will not manage to keep this treasure a bit far from buildings colonisation and mass tourism destruction.