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Winter bird watching in Cornwall

Abi Love

The West Penwith area is not just well know for it’s outstanding beaches and coastal towns such as St Ives but it is also infamous amongst ornithological groups for it’s bird life. With a diverse range of habitats and some of the best kept wild landscapes in the UK, West Penwith is home to an epic selection of native species from buzzards to choughs and also commonly visited by foreign birds known as “vagrants”. The term vagrant refers to birds that have strayed or been blown from their usual migratory course and in the case of those that turn up on Cornwall’s coast lines it’s North American birds which get blown across the Atlantic on route to South America. Last Autumn saw a record number of American vagrants including spotted sandpipers and red-eyed vireos, as a direct result of Hurricane Katia.

Our beautiful, luxury self catering apartments in St Ives are perfectly located to make the most of this rich area of wildlife so pack your binoculars and stay at Sail Lofts this winter.Here are a few nearby sites we recommend for spotting Cornish birdlife:

The Island

Just moments from our luxury accommodation in St Ives, Conrwall is The Island which unlike the name suggests is a small grassy peninsula off Porthmeor Beach offering spectacular views of the Atlantic ocean on three sides and views of the whole town and towards Godrevy lighthouse from the top of the mound. From The Island common sightings include gannets, cormorants, herring gulls, puffins and other coastal wildlife such as seals and dolphins.

Hayle Estuary

A 15 minute drive from The Sail Lofts five star holiday cottages in St Ives you will find Hayle Estuary which is the most south westerly estuary in the UK and one that never freezes. The rich pickings on the mud flaps, which are exposed at low tide provide a bird buffet attracting wading birds including curlews, little egrets and oyster catchers. The estuary opens out onto the vast sands of Porthkidney Beach where you can continue watching the birds whilst enjoying the fantastic scenery.

Marazion Marshes

This reserve overlooks the beautiful St Michael's Mount and boasts Cornwall's largest reedbed. In the car from our luxury holiday accommodation in St Ives the marshes are about a 20 minute drive. More than 250 bird, 500 plant, 500 insect and 18 mammal species have been recorded here. In some years starlings roost here from October-December and their spectacular aerial acrobatics over the reedbeds are a sight worth seeing.

Hope this inspires you to get out and about in the great Cornish landscape.