Birdwatching in Cornwall

Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly which lie 28 miles west of the Land's End have a much envied reputation for birdwatching. Rare birds are often blown off course during their migration and take an unscheduled break in Cornwall.

The birdlife of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is constantly changing. Species once considered rare visitors can suddenly appear in large numbers. Cattle Egrets, usually an uncommon visitor with only 12 records in Cornwall in a period of 26 years, are now becoming a more common sight. The Winter of 2007/08 saw 60 Cattle Egrets in Cornwall. The best time of the year for glimpsing these members of the heron family is December. Sightings have occurred throughout Cornwall including the far south west at Sennen Cove and the Walmsley Sanctuary at Wadebridge.

Cormorant at Swanpool Nature Reserve

Photograph by John Morgan


During 2002 a pair of Hoopoes spent several days in the valley behind Porthgwarra. These striking birds would normally reside in continental Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Peregrine Falcons, now well established in Cornwall, bred on a clifftop site on the North Cornish coast; and a pair of Choughs, Cornwall's national bird, not seen here for many years bred successfully for the first time in 50 years, producing 4 chicks. Christmas 2002 sightings in West Penwith included: Rosy Starling; 3 Cranes; Gyr Falcon; Ring Billed Gull; 2 Black Redstarts; Brent Goose; Little Egret.

In August 2009, around the Land's End Peninsula alone, in varous sites from Hayle, St Ives, Pendeen Watch, Botallack, Sennen Cove, Land's End, Porthgwarra, Newlyn, Penzance, Marazion, there have been sightings of Mediterranean Gull, Wilson`s Storm-petrel, Arctic Shearwater, Storm-petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Great Skua, Common Scoter, Whimbrel, Sandwich Tern, Black-browed Albatross, Cory`s Shearwater, Pied Flycatcher, Puffins, Green Sandpiper, Wheatear, Pectoral Sandpiper, Curlew, Common Rosefinch, Arctic Skua, Pomarine Skua, Spotted Crake and Black-throated Diver.


Kestrel having a dust bath

Kestrel having a dust bath

New from 2009: Bird Sightings Diary
Send us your bird sightings from around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and we will publish your records online on in our new Bird Sightings Diary

Date Bird Location Name
14/08/2019 Sparrowhawk We watched a Sparrowhawk hovering above the estuary edges/cliffs between Rock and Daymer Bay yesterday 14.08.19. Jane Johnson
18/07/2019 Peregrine Falcon Cliff edge near to Hell's Mouth. At least 4 adult peregrine falcons sited today. Few juveniles also. Appear well established here Matthew Bateman
09/06/2019 1 Peregrine Falcon Noted early morning flying N to S off Tolcarne beach, Newquay, Cornwall Think it was a male but cannot be sure. Phil Haley
06/01/2018 Variety of birds Marazion - Bonaparte Gull, Iceland Gull, Gadwall
07/01/2018 Spoonbill Helston
Click here to view the complete Cornwall Bird Sightings Diary

In addition to the wealth of rare birds which can be seen, Cornwall's resident bird population is huge and varied. From the waders and waterfowl to the magnificent birds of prey, the birdlife of Cornwall will be of interest to anyone who enjoys observing birds in a beautiful natural environment.


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, Wadebridge; Goss Moor; and Dozmary Pool.

The Isles of Scilly are also of great interest, not only for the Puffins which can be seen in the seas around the bird sanctuary island of Annet and the colonies of other breeding seabirds but also for the numerous birds which visit the islands during Spring and Autumn migrations.

During the months from August to October many rare birds can be seen as they get blown off course while crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Click here to see more birds in Cornwall

Books can be purchased online by clicking on the text links below:

The Cornwall Bird watching and Preservation Society produces an annual publication which includes a checklist of the years sightings. Membership is open to everyone with an interest in birds. For further information contact Steve Rogers 01872 273 004

For other items of bird watching interest please click on the following link:

Bird Watching

Websites providing further information on bird watching in Cornwall


Sennen Cove Birdwatching

Surf Birds



Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society

Cornwall Birding


Available for everyone, funded by people who are Into Cornwall.

If the information on this website has been useful to you please consider a donation.

Birdwatching events




Map of Birdwatching locations in Cornwall

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.

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Birdwatching locations in Cornwall



Birds in Cornish












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Things to do
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Maps of Cornwall :

The Ordnance Survey publishes the Explorer series of maps which are ideal for walkers.

Scale 1 : 25 000
2.5 inches to 1 mile /
4cm to 1km.

Available in local bookshops or click on the links below to order online.

Those covering Cornwall:

Map of Isles of Scilly:

101 Isles of Scilly


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