Just a few kilometres from Porto Pollo in Sartenais Valinco Taravo is the Etang de Tanchiccia, a lake and surrounding wetlands that are classed as a Natura 2000 protected area. Visitors can enjoy all the wildlife this diverse natural environment has to offer from a watchtower, wooden pontoons and observation posts. This fun and educational site is free to visit and is a great way to learn about Corsica’s flora and fauna and appreciate its vast, unspoiled landscapes.
An impressive sculpture of a chimera, half bird, half fish, adorns the entrance to the Etang de Tanchiccia. The key words here are silence, respect and patience. Antonia, the caretaker, welcomes me, hands me a pair of binoculars and explains that the 3km walking trail is marked with wooden signs. I begin my self-guided tour.
The first part of the trail winds through lush, green surroundings despite autumn setting in. I spot large ‘tafoni’, natural cavities hollowed out of blocks of stone often used as dwellings in prehistoric times. A little further on, a massive statue stands beside the path – a Minotaur carved out of a chestnut tree by the sculptor Deguilhen. After that, the god Pan comes into view, as if by magic, his horns raised towards the sky. This place is certainly full of surprises! I arrive at the first stop-off point, the ‘stagnu’ (lake). Inside a hut I find a few openings looking out over the lake. Using my binoculars, I spot my first bird, a Green Sandpiper. Resting on a dead tree in the middle of the lake, he’s posing for visitors. A little closer to me, less cautious, Colvert ducks and Eurasian coots swim together in what looks like an aquatic ballet. Then it's mealtime! I follow their movements easily as they dive for fish and re-emerge from the water.
Information panels are positioned all along the walking trail, providing information on the flora and fauna in the surrounding area as well as fun puzzles aimed at passers-by of all ages, based on tracks left behind by different animals. What animal left these tracks? Was it a fox, a hedgehog or a cattle egret?
The rest of the walking trail passes through ‘tamaricci’ (tamarisks), Mediterranean shrubs that provide a habitat for animals living around the lake, such as turtles and birds, which shelter there to rest and feed. The trail then gets steeper, leading up along a low stone wall to a ‘torra’, a 10m tower. The panoramic views of the sea, lake and surrounding countryside are breathtaking from the tower, like a 180-degree mosaic of green meadows, scrubland and water, framed by the mountains in the distance. All of Corsica’s rich landscapes are showcased here. I take in the view, the silence and the tranquillity of the moment before I walk back down.
The last part of my walking tour of Etang de Tanchiccia passes a vast area of reed beds, the largest in Corsica and a haven for frogs, pond turtles and toads. I follow the walkway through the reeds to an observation post. Here, silence is essential if you want to spot any wildlife.
Binoculars in hand, I enjoy these last few moments, surrounded by nature with only the sound of frogs croaking for company.
Sylvain makes you discover the Etang de Tanchiccia as if you were there!
Binoculars and telescopes available to hire (deposit required)
Address: RD 757, Porto Pollo entrance, 20140 Serra di Ferro