Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly offer a huge diversity of habitats for
a wide variety of wildlife. Mammals of both land and sea, fascinating
birds and plantlife, a wealth of marine animals and plants and a wonderful
selection of invertebrates from beautiful butterflies and moths to the
molluscs and crustaceans of rock pools and around the rugged coastline.
From the cliffs of the coast to wild moors, woods and forests, hedgerows,
heathland and winding river valleys, Cornwall's natural environment is
home to thousands of interesting animals and plants. Freshwater streams
and rivers mingle with tidal rivers. Salt flats, reed beds and wetlands
provide food and shelter for hundreds of birds.
The Isles of Scilly, situated 28 miles off
Land's End, are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Famous for birdwatching, the Islands are also home to the lesser
white-toothed shrew, the only place in the UK with a population of these
Wildlife finds a way of colonising and utilising even the harshest of
environments. Remote rocky islands, even a rock outcrop, can be home to
sea birds, seals, molluscs, crustaceans and a wide variety of plant life.
The invertebrates are well represented in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
with a range of insects: including rare butterflies and moths such as the
Wood White butterfly and the Death's-head Hawk-moth; dazzling dragonflies
and damsel flies; glow worms and a variety of bees, beetles and bugs.
Molluscs too are numerous, both salt and freshwater species, including
clams, mussels, snails, slugs, limpets, cuttlefish, Common Periwinkles and
Dog Whelks, while the crustaceans hold court over the coastline and rock
pools with crabs such as the , lobsters, prawns and the tenacious
barnacles who cling to the rocks found around the coast.
Marine animals from the smallest such as sponges, corals, By-the-wind
Sailors and Jewel Anemones to large animals such as Bottlenose Dolphins,
Grey Seals, Leatherback Turtles, Basking Sharks, Fin Whales and a wealth
of sea fish including the unusual Ocean Sunfish can be seen around
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
For information about birds and birdwatching in Cornwall and the Isles of
Scilly please click here to visit our Birdwatching
Mammals such as badgers, hedgehogs, foxes, bats, dormice, voles and
shrews, rabbits and squirrels can be found across Cornwall. Some woodlands
are providing nesting facilities for dormice to encourage them to breed.
Otters frequent streams and rivers in Cornwall and can be detected by
their tracks and droppings known as spraint.
Reptiles and amphibians can be seen around Cornwall and the Isles of
Scilly but can be rather shy. Snakes such as Adders and the Grass Snakes
can sometimes be seen basking in the sun around the coastal path. Keep
your eyes open and look ahead because if they hear you they will slither
off and hide. If you detect them from a distance you can enjoy watching
them curled up in the sun.
The Common Lizard may show himself emerging from a Cornish hedge or
roadside verge, while Slow-worms often frequent gardens, hiding under wood
or metal sheeting whose heat they enjoy, before hunting around for a juicy
Common frogs and toads are found in many areas but they mostly hide
themselves away so you need to know where to look. The exception to this
is when they return to their home pond to spawn and during the period when
the tadpoles have just become frogs. At this time it is possible to see
hundreds of tiny frogs crossing roads and footpaths. Palmate newts and
Smooth newts are also found in ponds around Cornwall but are not naturally
present on the Isles of Scilly.
The plant life of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is as diverse as its
animal life. From trees and flowering plants to mosses, ferns, seaweeds
Woodlands and hedgerows have carpets of Bluebells in late Spring. Spring
and Summer see fields, cliff tops, hedgerows and roadside verges filled
with masses of colourful wild flowers including cowslips, thrift, campions
Many rare species of plants are found particularly in unique areas such as
Lizard Peninsula with its serpentine base. Cornish Heath is moreorless
exclusive to the Lizard while Land Quillwort grows here and nowhere else
in the British Isles. Yellow Centaury and Thyme Broomrape are more Lizard
Ancient woodlands of Oak can be visited which still support traditional
plants and fungi.
Although mushrooms and toadstools occur in many seasons, the favourite
time of the year to view the greatest number of species is Autumn.
Cornwall's woods are alive with all manner of fungi from the Orange Peel
fungus to Stinkhorns and Puff-balls.
Wildlife Reserves exist throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Many
of these have open access while others are set aside solely for the
protection of their residents. Some sites have mixed access with
restrictions in operation during certain times of the year. St Agnes on
the north coast has a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area.
Take the opportunity to explore the wealth of wildlife for yourself or
take a guided tour with local experts by land or sea.
Use the + scale on the left of the map to zoom in on an area. Click on a marker to see the name of the location and click the box to go to the information about that place. To zoom out click - on the scale. (Google Map integrated by www.choughmountain.eu)