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Cornwall

Tawny Owl Strix aluco ©Andy Bright Website

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.

3 miles from Lands End Wolf Rock is an ideal base to watch migration birds. With views to the sea you might even see a seabird passage! Set in a quiet wooded valley only a few minutes walk from cliffs and beach it’s worth checking for overshoots and storm-brought rarities. Our lovely ground floor 2-bedroomed self-catering apartment sleeps 4. Well appointed, it features an open plan living area with wood-burning stove, modern and well equipped with all the comforts of home it can be enjoyed all year around. Parking for 2 cars directly outside. Click on the picture for details & contact

Top Sites

Rame Peninsula

Satellite View

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.

Crowdy Reservoir and Davidstow Airfield

Satellite View

Exposed moor land sites near Camelford which between them attract Nearctic waders every autumn.

Par Beach and Pool

Satellite View

An excellent winter gull site, regularly hosting Ring-billed. Also good for waders and terns.

Carrick Roads

Satellite View

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.

Stithians Reservoir

Information

Satellite View

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.

The Lizard

Satellite View

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.

Marazion Marsh

Webpage

Satellite View

Annually reliable for Spotted Crake and Aquatic Warbler in August/September. Recent rarities: Citrine Wagtail, Paddyfield Warbler.

Drift Reservoir

Information

Satellite View

First stop for transatlantic waders in autumn and good for winter gulls and wildfowl.

Porthgwarra

Satellite View

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…

St.Just

Satellite View

Excellent sheltered valleys for migrants (Nanquidno, Cot, Kenidjack). Britain's only Varied Thrush and Yellow-throated Vireo were found here.

Pendeen

Satellite View

Popular autumn sea-watching location in strong west/north-westerlies. Often scores higher counts than St. Ives, but views usually more distant.

St Ives Island

Satellite View

On its day the best autumn sea-watching site in Europe. Ideal conditions are strong north-westerly following south-westerly gale.

Hayle Estuary

Webpage

Satellite View

Good all-year round general birding site, nearly always providing something unusual.

Camel Estuary

Webpage

Satellite View

Another excellent area for wildfowl, waders and gulls.

Maer Lake

Webpage

Satellite View

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.

Contributor

County Recorder

Isles of Scilly - Will Wagstaff

42 Sally Port, St Mary's, TR21 0JE

01720 422212

recorder@scilly-birding.co.uk

Cornwall - Dave Parker

2 Boslevan, Green Lane, Marizion TR17 0HQ

07932 354711

recorder@cbwps.org.uk

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 433

County Bird - Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
[moreover it has recently started to breed in Cornwall again]

Useful Reading

Where to Watch Birds in Devon and Cornwall

by David Norman and Vic Tucker, published by Christopher Helm 2001
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 0713656905

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

by Roger Penhallurick, published by Browser Bookshops

ISBN: 0905920023

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Annual Bird Reports

Annual bird report Birds in Cornwall are available from the Editor, Derek Julian 12, Dunveth Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall PL27 7XD - camelbirder@btinternet.com - 01208 816779

Birds of Cornwall

Trevor Beer, Endymion Beer Paperback - 32 pages (11 March, 1999) Tor Mark Press

ISBN: 0850253756

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Secret Nature of Cornwall

In preparation…

ISBN: 153205

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Best Birdwatching Sites in Cornwall & The Scilly Isles

by Sara McMahon and Nigel Hudson - Buckingham Press 2008

ISBN: 9780955033957

Buy 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: 1904239072

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Google Map of Hotspots

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=111775749608577266037.000459c916f18585ee92e&z=9

Thanks to Simon Ashley for creating this map!

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

AK Wildlife Cruises

Tour Operator

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.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

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

Report

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

Report

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

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Bosavern House

Accommodation

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.

Parc an Grouse

Accommodation

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…

Mount Haven Hotel

Accommodation

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

Accommodation

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.

Pencubitt House

Accommodation

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.

Hawksland Mill

Accommodation

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.

Old Primary School (The) - Ludgvan village

Accommodation

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.

Lindford House Holiday Cottages

Accommodation

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.

Cape Cornwall Country club

Accommodation

Handy for Sennan Cove

The Cartwheel

Accommodation

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

Self-Catering

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…

Chy Carne Camping Park

Accommodation

Chalets, Caravans or your own gear….

Killagorden Cottage B&B

Webpage

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)….

Organisations

Cornwall Birds

Website

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

Website

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.

Operation Chough

Webpage

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

Website

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…

Reserves

RSPB Reserve - Hayle Estuary

Webpage

Satellite View

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

Webpage

Satellite View

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

Website

Satellite View

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

Cornish Wildlife

Mailing List

To post to list: CornishWildlife@yahoogroups.com

List contact: CornishWildlife-owner@yahoogroups.com

To subscribe to list: CornishWildlife-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Mailing List – Discussion Group Cornwall (UK) e-mail discussion group.

Blogs

A&T Birding

Blog

…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…

St Austell Baywatch

Blog

Natural World. Birds, Animals, Flora, Fauna and Fungi around St Austell Bay. Black Head to Gribbin Head…

Paul 'Cardinal' Kilmurray - Birding & Bugging Somewhere in Cornwall

Blog

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…

Camelbirders Diary

Blog

Blog form a Cornish birder

Devon and Cornwall Police Wildlife Crimes Group

Blog

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…

Paul Freestone - Ornitholosism II

BLOG

Personal birding blog of Cornwall based birder and guide Paul Freestone…

Dan Chaney - Stithians Reservoir Birding

BLOG

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…

Chough Junior Birders

BLOG

Follow Bob Bosisto and Pete Roseveare as we go birding and ringing in Cornwall and beyond...

Other Links

Scillonian Pelagic Trips

Website

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.

Birdwatching in West Cornwall

Website

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.

Screech Owl Sanctuary

Website

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.

Cornish Birds of Prey Centre

Website

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…

IntoCornwall

Website

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…

Camelbirder

Website

This website is dedicated to the Natural History of the Camel Estuary in North Cornwall – includes latest bird sightings.

Cornwall Bird Atlas

Website

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…

Cornwall Birding

Website

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…

Bird Box View

Website

Welcome to Bird Box View the home of nature cameras in Cornwall… Small company supplying affordable colour webcamera nestboxes for garden birds

Photographers & Artists

Artist - Ian Griff Griffiths

Gallery

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

Gallery

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

Gallery

Pictures taken of Wildlife from around Cornwall and just beyond! By Richard M Birchett…

Video - Wildlife in Cornwall

Website

A website created to show the videos I produce of the birds and wildlife in Cornwall…