A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

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. Recently it has gained a lot of publicity as the site of 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.

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 is designated as SAC and SSSI and the peninsula is home to several nature reserves such as the Windmill Farm, managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, with raised walkways and bird hides overlooking pools, and Goonhilly Downs (part of the Natural England Lizard National Nature Reserve), where the flat heathland attracts birds of prey such as Buzzards, Hen Harriers and Owls.

Common Scoter and Puffin pass through in Summer, with Wheatear, Tree Pipit and Yellow Wagtail appearing in September.
Firecrests and Redstarts start arriving in early Spring, soon to be followed by Chiffchaff, Short-Eared Owl, Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher. In winter look out for Great Northern Divers, Guillemot, Razorbill, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin and Purple Sandpiper.


  • Gannets fishing , or passing in hundreds, especially off Bass Point
  • Infrequent Black-throated or Great Northern Diver
  • Some razorbills or guillemots, commoner gulls and abundant shags
  • Purple sandpiper and Turnstone feed in small groups on seaweed covered rocks
  • Inland birds few due to exposed nature of the area
  • Birds of prey hunt over the open expanses – peregrines, merlins and hen harriers. Possible short eared-owl
  • Peregrines, ravens and chough can be a regular site on the sea cliffs
  • Winter thrushes


  • A few Firecrests and Black Redstarts by early March
  • Chiff-chaff and wheatear possible by end March, possible Ring Ouzel
  • April – willow warbler, hoopoe, merlin, short-eared owl, whitethroat
  • End April – early May – swift, greater numbers of warblers, whinchat, redstart, spotted flycatcher, possibly hobby, turtle dove


  • Breeding species include Wheatear, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Sand Martin, Dartford Warbler, Nightjar, Dartford Warbler
  • Skylark, meadow pipit and stonechats are abundant
  • Common Scoter and Puffin passage peaks mid June – end July


  • Seabirds including a few Artic, Great or Pomarine Skuas, possible Great or Corys Shearwater, probably Sooty Shearwater
  • Later in season Kittiwakes peak
  • Commoner passage migrants through September, especially Wheatear, Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, coasting Grey Wagtail,
  • Possible Woodchat or Red-backed Shrike
  • Mid Oct-Nov Firecrest, Black Redstart, Ring Ouzel, possible Snow or Lapland Bunting,
  • Chaffinch flocks contain Bramblings
  • Winter thrushes arrive

Where to Watch Birds in Devon and Cornwall by David Norman and Vic Tucker