The Lizard Peninsula, with the sea on three sides and the Helford River to the north, is an ecological microcosm and home to a broad selection of birds of sea, woodland, field and open moor.
Considered by many to be a little different from the rest of Cornwall, The Lizard peninsula, which has the warmest average climate in the country, is a remote and unspoilt place consisting mostly of gentle heath and coastal grassland. The area is well protected, as much of it is designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The peninsula is also home to several nature reserves such as Windmill Farm, managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, with raised walkways and bird hides overlooking pools, and Goonhilly Downs (part of Natural England’s Lizard National Nature Reserve), where the flat heathland attracts birds of prey such as Buzzards, Hen Harriers and Owls.
A Barn Owl sails over the fields at sunset with its prey
(photo: © Richard Birchett)
- The Lizard has seen the return of one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds, the Cornish Chough, a species of crow with distinctive red beak and legs and a haunting ‘chee-aw’ call. The Chough began breeding here in 2002 after a long absence and a concerted effort by local conservationists.
- Among other birds, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Stonechats are abundant.
Birds that arrive here to breed include Wheatears, Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers, Sand Martins, Dartford Warblers, Nightjars, Dartford Warblers and Swallows. Redstarts start arriving in early Spring, soon followed by Chiffchaff, Short-Eared Owl, Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher. Look out as well for the famous brood parasite – the Cuckoo.
© Richard Birchett
The Lizard © Richard Birchett
Some birds pass through The Lizard on their way further north. These include Common Scoters and Puffins; their passage peaks in mid-June to end July. One of the best places for seeing passage migrants, as well as other birds, is around Lizard Point.
If you want to find out more about birds you can see on The Lizard, why not browse our online library of species profiles: for each species listed, there are photographs and a description to help you to identify them.