NNR Events

Events to celebrate the expansion of the Lizard National Nature Reserve

Lizard Natural History

Below you can find general information about the natural world of The Lizard. Browse the icons above to discover detailed descriptions of individual species. Alternatively, if you know what you are looking for, then you can use the site search facility at the top of the page.

The Lizard is renowned for being the warmest place in mainland Britain, with frosts and snow rarely experienced and little difference between the seasons; mild damp winters, and cool summers.

As I’m writing this in the middle of December, the temperature outside is a balmy 15C. Daffodils are in full bloom, the frogs are breeding, cherries are blossoming and trees are coming into bud. Whilst this peculiar weather isn’t particularly unusual on the Lizard, the rest of the UK seems to be experiencing the same. Weird weather indeed.

Globally, 2015 has been the warmest year on record, with temperatures over 1.5C higher than the long-term average. Whilst this has much to do with the El-Nino effect, it also reflects climate change predictions. Britain’s weather on the whole has been characterised by generally cool conditions, particularly during the height of summer which was decidedly cloudy, damp and cool.Lizard temperature chart

Graph from NOOA showing global temperatures; 1.5C above average.

The Lizard
The weather in January and February was mild without any real frosts and generally rather benign without any of the damaging stormy weather we experienced the previous winter, ideal conditions for completing all the storm damage at Mullion Cove.Mullion harbour

Contractors dodge the waves to complete Mullion Harbour repairs; Feb 2015

Spring on the Lizard was delightful! Sunny, dry and warm weather followed by some much needed rain in May brought with it some very early flowering with other wildlife also benefiting. Choughs and other birds nested earlier than usual and the Lizard cliffs were ablaze with spring flowers. As the sea quickly warmed under the spring sunshine, I saw my first basking shark off Lizard Point in April, the earliest I’d ever experienced these magnificent animals.Basking Shark

A basking shark seen from Lizard Point in April (Photo by Terrence Thirlaway)

Much needed rain in May and June together with extended periods of glorious sunshine extended the flowering of many of the springtime flowers. The cliffs were swathed in spring squill, thrift, campions and blue bells from March right through into summer.Orchid

A very early orchid and Spring Squill; April 2015

But then summer never really started. Predictably, as the schools broke us for the summer holidays and the visitors started to arrive, so did the rain. July and August were generally cool and unsettled. OK, so we had the occasional warm summer days, but no great extended periods of settled weather. We even had some decidedly stormy conditions, as the Poldark TV production crew witnessed during a recce at Kynance at the end of August.Kynance

An unseasonable scene; Kynance August 2015


Just as the visitors started to drift home and school term started, the weather finally settled down again providing a wonderful Indian summer. Both September and October were gloriously warm and sunny, albeit with a few chilly nights. Whilst the lack of Autumnal rain meant that mushrooms were very few and far between, we experienced some wonderful seashore foraging walks during the mega low tides of the autumn equinox.Super low tide

Super low tides and glorious sunshine at Poltesco; September 2015

And here we are in the depths of a very mild, grey and wet winter, with yet another ‘storm’ on her way (Eva next I believe). Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. I have no doubt we still get a taste of winter, at least we can look forward to the days getting a little longer and spring will once again come early to the Lizard.

Published: Dec 2015
Author: Justin Whitehouse