Cornwall is a very long county, extending 86 miles from the north Devon border to Land's End, this is compensated for by its breadth, for although it is 46 miles across at its widest point in the east, it narrows steadily as one travels westward - its average width is only about 20 miles.
Stretching down through the county is a series of granite outcrops, part of those which reach from Dartmoor to the Isles of Scilly. These give rise to a number of moor land areas, the most extensive of which is Bodmin Moor in the east of the county. As a result of this hilly spine and the short distance from coast to coast, rivers are generally fast flowing.
Tall cliffs, especially along the north coast, delineate much of the coastline. Elsewhere, drowned river-valleys or rias form the winding estuaries of the Tamar, the Fowey, Truro-Fal complex and Helford in the south and the Camel in the north. Due to its location in the far west of the country, a number of bird species which breed regularly further east fail to reach Cornwall. Seabird communities and healthy populations of e.g. Peregrine and Stonechat redress this to some extent.
The winter offers some excellent birding, especially when severe weather up-country forces huge numbers of wildfowl, waders and thrushes southwest in search of milder conditions.
It is however for its capacity to provide some of the most exciting birding in the UK during migration, particularly in the autumn, that the county has become renowned. With one of the largest county bird-lists in the country, Cornwall consistently rewards its devotees, especially in October. Cornish birders often rely on winds from the easterly quarter to bring scarce migrants, but in October anything can turn up in any conditions and westerlies also bring rarities. There are so many potentially good sites which are under-watched, that birders have plenty of opportunity to find their own birds in peace and solitude.
There is a separate Fatbirder page for the Scilly Isles.
*See places other birders go Birding...
Between the confluence of the Truro and Fal rivers and the open sea, good for winter sea-duck, divers and grebes, including the county's largest concentration of Black-necked Grebe.
Crowdy Reservoir and Davidstow Airfield
Exposed moor land sites near Camelford which between them attract Nearctic waders every autumn.
First stop for transatlantic waders in autumn and good for winter gulls and wildfowl.
Good all-year round general birding site, nearly always providing something unusual.
A small pool near Bude which produces a staggering number of rare birds amongst its spring and autumn migrants. Also good in winter. Recent rarities: Upland Sandpiper, Citrine Wagtail.
Annually reliable for Spotted Crake and Aquatic Warbler in August/September. Recent rarities: Citrine Wagtail, Paddyfield Warbler.
Par Beach and Pool
An excellent winter gull site, regularly hosting Ring-billed. Also good for waders and terns.
Popular autumn sea-watching location in strong west/north-westerlies. Often scores higher counts than St. Ives, but views usually more distant.
This magical valley hosted Britain's first Veery and American Redstart. Also the most reliable place in the country for late summer Cory's Shearwaters. If there are no birds, just enjoy the beautiful scenery. Recent rarities: Booted Eagle, Little Swift…
Just across the sound from Plymouth, this promontory is Rame Head and Penlee Point. Good for spring and autumn migrants, sea watching and winter seabirds. Hosted Britain's one and only Wilson's Warbler, whilst recent rarities include Red-flanked Bluetail and Gyrfalcon.
St Ives Island
On its day the best autumn sea-watching site in Europe. Ideal conditions are strong north-westerly following south-westerly gale.
Excellent sheltered valleys for migrants (Nanquidno, Cot, Kenidjack). Britain's only Varied Thrush and Yellow-throated Vireo were found here.
Has probably declined as a wader site due to lack of mud, but still attracts many interesting birds. Recent records: Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser Scaup, Baillon's Crake and Caspian Tern.
There are many good valleys for migrants around this huge peninsula. Probably the best known are those at The Lizard village at the southerly tip Recent rarities: Little Bustard, Hume's Leaf Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo.
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 433
County Bird - Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
[moreover it has recently started to breed in Cornwall again]
Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder
Annual Bird Reports
Annual bird report Birds in Cornwall are available from the Editor, Derek Julian 12, Dunveth Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall PL27 7XD - firstname.lastname@example.org - 01208 816779
Best Birdwatching Sites in Cornwall & The Scilly Isles
by Sara McMahon and Nigel Hudson - Buckingham Press 2008
ISBN: 9780955033957Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Cornwall
Trevor Beer, Endymion Beer Paperback - 32 pages (11 March, 1999) Tor Mark Press
ISBN: 0850253756Buy this book from NHBS.com
Secret Nature of Cornwall
ISBN: 153205Buy this book from NHBS.com
Shadows in the Sky
by Pete Cross - It tells the story of the chough’s return to Cornwall, through the eyes of the birds, against a backdrop of the county’s history, heritage and humans’ tempestuous relationship with nature.
ISBN: 1904239072Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Birds of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
by Roger Penhallurick, published by Browser Bookshops
ISBN: 0905920023Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where to Watch Birds in Devon and Cornwall
by David Norman and Vic Tucker, published by Christopher Helm 2001
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 0713656905Buy this book from NHBS.com
Google Map of Hotspots
Thanks to Simon Ashley for creating this map!
Guides & Tour Operators
AK Wildlife Cruises
At AK Wildlife cruises we cover the entire Carrick roads, running specific trips especially in winter, and have huge numbers of birds including black necked grebe; slavonian grebe; divers (great northern still present, we had one today! also RT and BN wintering); red breasted merganser; scoter and lots more - on one trip we recorded nearly 50 species in 4 hours. We also run dedicated pelagic trips from Falmouth spotting large flocks (80+) of manx shearwater; auks; storm petrel (Wilson's do occasionally show up) and skua. Most of these are only really best seen on a boat, especially storm petrels which flit around our boat! And also the best photo opportunities.
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2007 [03 March] – David & Amanda Mason
Started overcast and cool, quite ideal really for our five and a half hour journey to the south west of England. We took our time and arrived at our destination The Ship Inn at Lerryn, near Lostwithiel at around 4.30pm. The village car park is situated on the bank of a small tributary to the River Fowey and as we parked we noticed 3 Little Egret feeding in the shallows nearby along with a few ducks and gulls. The Ship is less than a one minute walk from this car park and has no off road parking of its own…
2008 [09 September] - Edward Lea
In September this year my family and I had a holiday in Cornwall. We stayed in a holiday home in Crantock near Newquay. In this article I relate the birds that I (we) saw during our 2 week stay, this was not an intensive birding holiday (Nathalie may disagree), rather a family holiday with much time spent on the beach building sand castles with Samuel (aged 3)…
Places to Stay
Bosavern House is ideally situated for access to the key birdwatching sites of the Lands End peninsula, which is renowned for migrants and, in particular, the number of unusual species which arrive at different times of the year.
Cape Cornwall Country club
Handy for Sennan Cove
Chy Carne Camping Park
Chalets, Caravans or your own gear….
Set in a quiet country lane and surrounded by farmland, the Mill lies within easy reach of many beautiful sandy beaches and has convenient road access to all parts of Cornwall. Hawksland Mill is three miles from the town of Wadebridge, which has good shopping facilities, and five miles from the ancient fishing port of Padstow.
Killagorden Cottage B&B
Killagorden Cottage B&B is a former Coach House. We are located 1 mile from Truro in Cornwall, set in the beautiful Idless Valley. We have 9 acres of mature wooded grounds, teaming with birds & wildlife and including natural ponds and streams (01872 272840)….
Lindford House Holiday Cottages
Self catering holiday cottages, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Coverack and Helford River areas, on the Lizard Peninsula, in picturesque South Cornwall UK.
Mount Haven Hotel
The Mount Haven Hotel & Restaurant is situated in its own grounds on the outskirts of the ancient market town of Marazion, overlooking the sea, and just a few minutes` walk from the beach. There are superb panoramic views over Mount`s Bay and the world-famous St. Michael`s Mount from the gardens and car park, as well as from most of the bedrooms.
Mullion Cove Hotel
Mullion Cove Hotel stands in a spectacular position on the cliffs above the working harbour of Mullion Cove. Built at the behest of the Cornish Railway at the turn of the century, it commands spectacular views along thirty miles of glorious coastline. From the lounge, look down to the harbour with its jetties, fish cellars and sandy beaches and along the dramatic coastline of Britain`s most southerly peninsula.
Old Primary School (The) - Ludgvan village
Self Catering Accommodation in a beautiful Cornish village - The Old Primary School was formally a Victorian School for infants dating from 1875 and was converted in 1985 for residential use. The Old School Cottage forms part of The Old Primary School and is completely self-contained, having its own entrance and parking area and comprising lounge/diner, double bedroom and bath/shower room. What is now the lounge used to be the Headmaster`s study and is fitted with a kitchenette, complete with microwave, electric cooker and fridge. The comfortably furnished lounge area also has colour TV and a bed-settee for those families with children. The lounge window offers views towards St Michael`s Mount and the surrounding countryside.
Parc an Grouse
Parc an Grouse is a B&B situated overlooking the ocean just a short walk from St.Keverne village in Cornwall. Ideal spot for Birding on the Helford river or walking the coastal path…
Pencubitt is somewhere special… a beautiful Victorian Country Mansion secluded in its own mature Cornish garden just outside the traditional market town of Liskeard, close to Looe and Polperro on the picturesque South Cornish Coast.
Special Places Cottages
Special Places is family run, and began eight years ago with our own two cottages. We now offer a collection of lovely holiday homes in this recognised area of outstanding natural beauty.
The Cartwheel offers Luxury Cornwall holiday accommodation in Millbrook Cornwall on the fabulous Rame Peninsula. The Cartwheel is a newly refurbished Luxury Cornish holiday bungalow featuring….
Wolf Rock Holiday Flat - Porthcurno
Wolf Rock is a lovely self catering holiday apartment only a few minutes walk from the beautiful sandy Porthcurno Beach in Cornwall. It is close to the coastal path which leads to further, remote, sandy beaches…
Welcome to the home page of the Cornwall Bird-Watching and Preservation Society dedicated to the study and conservation of birds in the county of Cornwall, in the far south-west of England. The Society, which celebrates its 75th Anniversary in 2006: owns or manages six nature reserves, runs weekly field meetings, publishes a comprehensive annual report, issues four annual newsletters, Palores, supports conservation-led initiatives in Cornwall…
Cornwall Wildlife Trust
The Cornwall Wildlife Trust - founded in 1962 - fulfils a role occupied by no other countryside organisation. We are concerned solely with Cornwall and deal with all aspects of conserving the county's wildlife and habitats. We have already established over 40 nature reserves, covering 3,000 acres (1,2000 ha); in which examples of each of Cornwall's habitats give refuge to nationally rare and endangered species.
The Chough has only been bred in captivity in Cornwall by Paradise Park, and cannot be seen anywhere else in the Duchy. In the late 1980s we collaborated with other organisations and individual conservationists to form Operation Chough. This has been funded mostly by Paradise Park, and this included financing a three-year research project conducted by Dr. Richard Meyer. His thesis helped to solve the mystery of the Chough`s disappearance, and we are getting closer each year to being able to reintroduce this important bird to the Cornish cliffs where it belongs…
RSPB - Cornwall Local Group
Cornwall Members' Group arranges guided walks, many aimed at newcomers to birdwatching, throughout Cornwall all year round and holds indoor meetings, mainly in the Truro area, between September and April…
RSPB Reserve - Hayle Estuary
Wading birds such as dunlins, curlews and grey plovers spend the winter here and if you are very lucky you might see a rare North American wader!
RSPB Reserve - Marazion Marsh
In August and September, two special rare birds visit on migration - the spotted crake and aquatic warbler. Over-wintering bitterns are now regular visitors…
St Gothian Sands Nature Reserve
St Gothian Sands NR was officially opened in 2005. The reserve was created when the old Sand works at Gwithian closed down leaving some great habitat, attractive to birds. This blog will hopefully keep you up to date with whats been seen and whats happening on the reserve…
Forums & Mailing Lists
…Before we started this blog we had a GS Woodpecker visiting the garden. We've been in this house a few years and later in 2008 he/she started to visit…
Blog form a Cornish birder
Chough Junior Birders
Follow Bob Bosisto and Pete Roseveare as we go birding and ringing in Cornwall and beyond...
Dan Chaney - Stithians Reservoir Birding
Mainly intended as a way to communicate bird sightings for Stithians Reservoir, showcase what a reasonably good place it is, post a few bird piccies up, provide links and cutting insights…
Devon and Cornwall Police Wildlife Crimes Group
e.g. This is Matthew Gonshaw. If you see him near ANY birds nests then let the police know immediately!! Gonshaw is a serial egg collector and has an ASBO banning him from entering Scotland in the breeding season for the next 10 years! Gonshaw has already served four prison sentences for stealing birds eggs and with a ban from Scotland, it is thought that he may target other areas of the country, including the South West. Gonshaw is a major target…
Par Beach & Pool Birdwatching
A bird watching blog covering the bird life of Par Beach and the local nature reserve - I currently work at Screech Owl Sanctuary and have been doing so now for 14 years. I fly a variety of Owls and work with some very endangered captive owls. One of the highlights is also to be working within the owl hospital. We care for and hopefully release sick and injured owls back into the wild after a period of rehabilitation…
Paul 'Cardinal' Kilmurray - Birding & Bugging Somewhere in Cornwall
Birding & bugging in deepest darkest Cornwall. Armed with the bird bible, bug bible, flask full of char and dressed like an AWOL Kremlin's elite soldier, this is surely Cornwall's answer to Johnny Kingdom…
Paul Freestone - Ornitholosism II
Personal birding blog of Cornwall based birder and guide Paul Freestone…
St Austell Baywatch
Natural World. Birds, Animals, Flora, Fauna and Fungi around St Austell Bay. Black Head to Gribbin Head…
Bird Box View
Welcome to Bird Box View the home of nature cameras in Cornwall… Small company supplying affordable colour webcamera nestboxes for garden birds
Birdwatching in West Cornwall
Welcome to our Birdwatching Page. West Cornwall is renowned for rare birds, and several top birders live in the area. We are developing this site daily, and intend to provide a comprehensive Internet resource for birding in West Cornwall. We will be restricting the area covered to the District of Penwith - but will bring hot news from outside! When a rare bird is found in the area, location details and travel directions will be put on this site, together with weather and - as and when possible - images. Any bird reports from the area will be most welcome, and will be included in the round-ups.
This website is dedicated to the Natural History of the Camel Estuary in North Cornwall – includes latest bird sightings.
Cornish Birds of Prey Centre
The Cornish Birds of Prey Centre is situated on the A39 at Winnards Perch, halfway between St. Columb Major and Wadebridge and approximately 12 miles from Newquay in Cornwall. We have here at the Centre over 50 birds of prey for you to see, many of which take part in regular flying displays and participate in hands-on experiences. We are able to cater for all ages and disabilities, as the Centre is set on open ground with a gentle slope and stunning views…
Cornwall Bird Atlas
For many years there has been no way of bringing together the diverse records relating to many of the breeding and non-breeding bird species. Randomly collected records of common breeding and wintering species have been a particular cause for concern and there has been much discussion about the best way to handle such records…
Welcome to Cornwall Birding, the website dedicated to Birds, Birders and Birding in Cornwall. We aim to provide up to date information and images of rare birds when they occur and support important ornithological projects in the county. We welcome photos and articles to do with birds and birding in Cornwall as well as your sightings and trip reports…
There are many sites around Cornwall which are of great interest to birdwatchers. These include: Marazion Marsh and Hayle Estuary, both of which have RSPB Reserves; Porthgwarra and many of the valleys on the Land`s End peninsula; Stithians Reservoir; the creeks of the Truro and Fal Rivers; the Camel Estuary with the Walmsley Sanctuary near Chapel Amble; Goss Moor; and Dozmary Pool. Christmas 2002 sightings in West Penwith included: Rosy Starling; 3 Cranes; Gyr Falcon; Ring Billed Gull; 2 Black Redstarts; Brent Goose; Little Egret…
Scillonian Pelagic Trips
Warmed by the Gulf Stream, buffeted by the Atlantic, relying on sea and air links with the mainland, the unique Isles of Scilly are a world apart. Populated by a friendly community of just over 2000 islanders, sub-tropical Scilly has tranquillity and a quality of life long lost to less isolated places. Exotic plants and wild flowers, ancient cairns and crumbling castles, sparkling white sands by an azure sea - all just 28 miles from Land`s End in the south-west corner of the UK.
Screech Owl Sanctuary
The sanctuary provides care and rehabilitation for wild sick and injured owls within Cornwall, and where possible ensures their safe release back to the wild when they are fully recovered, and if permanently disabled a comfortable home shall be provided in a suitable environment.
Photographers & Artists
Artist - Ian Griff Griffiths
Wildlife paintings; mainly birds of artist Griff, who lives and paints in Cornwall originally from Yorkshire. He will be featured in Birds illustrated, Wildscape and Artists and illustrated magazine…
Photographer - Mark Whittaker - Fat Wagtail Photography
Mark Whittaker, St.Austell, Cornwall, United Kingdom - I'm 27 years old and very much into wildlife especially birds. I currently work as a Falconer & Owl Welfare Officer at the Screech Owl Sanctuary at Indian Queens and have been doing so for 8 years. Very much into photography and hoping to incorporate this passion into my blog…
Photographer - Richard M Birchett
Pictures taken of Wildlife from around Cornwall and just beyond! By Richard M Birchett…
Video - Wildlife in Cornwall
A website created to show the videos I produce of the birds and wildlife in Cornwall…