A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

  1. Introduction
  2. Geology
  3. Wildlife
  4. Heritage

Tucked away at the end of a track off the Helston to Lizard road, you’ll find a haven of wildlife and flora, known particularly for its birds. A seventeenth century windmill greets you as you arrive, and a world of walks and exploration is ahead of you.1 Windmill

Windmill Farm is worth visiting at any time of year. There is an array of habitats, including wet and dry heaths, pasture, ponds, hay meadows, arable land and extensive hedgerows. This mix of habitats means the site is home to a huge variety of plant, bird and invertebrate species.

Common Darter dragonfly Clouded Yellow butterfly Lesser Emperor dragonfly

 

The winter bird arable project consists of three fields covering an area of four hectares, a quarter of which is cultivated each year to provide a standing bird food crop for overwintering birds. Look out for large flocks of feeding finches. Flocks of more than a thousand birds have been seen here in recent years.Dunlin

Jointly owned by the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society and Cornwall Wildlife Trust, the reserve has three hides overlooking two ponds. The newly refurbished windmill near the entrance is now used as an observation hide. Before heading away from the car park, visit the small information centre, where you will find information about the reserve and the walking trails.

 Roe Deer and Windmill

How to find the reserve: Heading south on the A3083 (the Helston to Lizard village road), go past the turn to Mullion Cove and the turn to Trevelyan Holiday Homes. After the Trevelyan turn, continue along the road for 500 m. Turn right onto a wide, long and straight section of rough tarmac road. Continue along this track for 500 m until you reach the car park at the base of the old windmill.


Parking: Free car park. Open all year.
Dogs: Sorry, no dogs allowed, to protect the bird life and because of grazing animals on site.
Facilities: Please note there are no toilet or café facilities on site. The closest toilets are in the Lizard.There is an information centre, where you can pick up a map of the extensive nature trail which winds around the farm.
Accessibility: Public footpaths are accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs, but be aware that the terrain can be bumpy in places. Visitors are advised to wear wellington boots or other stout footwear.
Activities: Walks, wildlife, flora, history, archaeology

 

The abundance of Cornish Heath across Windmill Farm gives you a clue as to the underlying geology of its heathland areas. This relative of heather only grows on The Lizard, and only on the serpentine.

Cornish Heath article 2

All of the reserve lies above serpentine bedrock. Find out more about the geology of The Lizard at http://www.the-lizard.org/index.php/lizard-geology , or pick up a copy of Beneath the Skin of The Lizard, by Robin Bates and Bill Scolding, which details seven coastal walks exploring the geology of the peninsula.

Wildlife and conservation

Windmill Farm is an important part of the unique natural landscape of The Lizard. The site carries various designations, which include: Special Area of Conservation, Site of Special Scientific Interest, and County Wildlife Site.

Woodchat Shrike

Birds Windmill Farm is best known the richness of its birdlife, and is worth a visit in any season of the year.

• Winter: Lapwings and Golden Plover; Shoveler, Wigeon and Mallard; Hen and Marsh Harriers; Snipe and Jack Snipe; Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Linnet, Thrushes and Pipits.
• Spring: Merlin, Hobby, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin, Wheatear, Whinchat, Yellow Wagtail and various warblers and finches.
• Summer: A variety of warblers breed in good numbers including Grasshopper Warblers. There are also breeding Buzzards, Sparrowhawks, Cuckoos, Skylarks and Reed Buntings, whilst Swallows nest in the disused farm buildings. Barn Owls regularly hunt over the Reserve, and Tawny and Short-eared owls can also be spotted.
• Autumn: Green Sandpiper, Dotterel, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Snipe, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Marsh Harrier.

Chiff Chaff Dotterel Merlin 2 Reed Warbler

 

Rarities spotted on the reserve include Great White Egret, Black Kite, American Golden Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Citrine Wagtail and Iberian Chiffchaff.

 


 

Rare plants

3 Marsh Marigold3 Western Marsh OrchidThe reserve enjoys a high botanical diversity, including rare and scarce plants. These include the endangered Pigmy Rush, which is only found on The Lizard, Three-lobed Crowfoot, and Yellow Centaury, all of which were aided by a recent project, with Plantlife as a partner, to restore habitat at Windmill Farm.

Other notable flora include Pillwort in the wet tracks and ponds, Chamomile and Pale Dog-violet, as well as the Cornish Heath, another Lizard native. Green-winged and Heath-spotted Orchids also abound in the early summer.

 


 

Insect life

Red veined DarterWindmill Farm is a ‘Key Odonata Site’ in Cornwall, helped by recent work to improve the scrapes and establish dragonfly ponds. Nineteen species of dragonfly and damselfly have been recorded, including Lesser Emperor, Vagrant Emperor and Red-veined Darter.

Clouded Buff moth Dark Green Fritillary Emperor dragonfly

Lepidoptera include the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly in the early summer, and rare moths, such as the Small Grass Emerald and Square-spot Dart.

 

Marsh Fritillary Waterboatman

 


 

Other animals

You may spot Adders, Toads, Frogs and Common Lizards.

Adders Common Lizard 5 Roe Deer 2 Stoat

 

Use the icons at the top the page to find out more about more of the flora, birds, butterflies and moths, and other animals you can see on The Lizard.

 

Windmill Farm was a dairy farm until 2001, when it was bought by the Cornwall and Bird Watching Preservation Society and Cornwall Wildlife Trust with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Lewis Frost Memorial Fund. Since then, staff and volunteers have worked hard with partners to enhance the 83-ha reserve with great success. Cattle graze the meadows in the summer and autumn, but this is for conservation purposes. The hay meadows and heathland were once intensively managed dairy pasture, now passed over to wildlife and flora.

The windmill that gives the reserve its name dates back to the seventeenth century, but is by no means the oldest structure on the reserve. There are also two Bronze Age barrows (2000 to 700 BC), a Mesolithic Settlement (5000 BC), mediaeval parish boundaries, as well as a number of buildings related to the Second World War.Windmill with roof in 1938

Some of the trails crossing Windmill Farm have been there for centuries, dating back to the historic use of lowland heathland for grazing, and providing domestic fuel (peat and furze), bracken for livestock bedding, and building materials. In common with heathland across The Lizard, human activity here dates back to prehistory.