With miles of coast and countryside, from sand and shingle beaches to wild heathland, Cornwall is a haven of natural beauty.
Whether it’s flora or fauna, feathers or fur, you needn’t look far to uncover our local wildlife. If you’re keen to get out in the fresh air and connect with nature, you’ll find it’s easy to begin spotting on the Cornish coast.
The Lizard is certainly the place to start, with over 250 important wildlife species found here. Best of all, this is a simple (and often free) pleasure that everyone can enjoy – from busy families to solo adventurers.
Walk down to the cove
If you want to explore the Cornish coast, there’s no better place to begin than Polurrian Cove. Just a ten-minute stroll on foot (no car needed!) will take you to our sandy beach. Here, you can watch for sea birds, paddle in the shallows and seek out interesting shells. For a guide to the most common shells found on Cornish beaches, take a look at the Cornish Rock Pools website.
Set out on the coastal path
Alternatively, take yourself further afield by striding out onto the South West Coast Path, which is easily reached from the bottom of our garden. From here, you can walk along to the white sands of Mullion Cove, or in the opposite direction to Poldhu. Just off the coast is Mullion Island: an uninhabited island and nature reserve, which is home to great black-backed gulls, cormorants, shags, and guillemots. If you’re happiest exploring on foot, the South West Coast Path website also has a helpful selection of west Cornwall wildlife walks to choose from.
Keep watch on the Lizard
Lizard Point – the most southerly tip of mainland Britain – features its own wildlife watch point, which is run by a team of National Trust volunteers and will be open this year until 30 October. Popular sights include Atlantic grey seals, a pair of Cornish choughs, a resident kestrel, and a whole host of other sea birds. The watch point hut also has family friendly wildlife activities and information, making this a great place to learn more.
Soak in the on-water view
Taking to the water offers an entirely different perspective on the coast – and on its inhabitants. Join Lizard Adventure for a sea kayaking tour, where you’ll learn more about our local wildlife and natural history. Tours are family friendly (ages eight and upwards), and seals are a common sight.
See the seals
If you’re eager to see more of Cornwall’s seals, you can also visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in nearby Gweek (around eight miles away). As the name suggests, the sanctuary provides treatment, care and rehabilitation for seals and other marine animals. Between September and March each year – known as the ‘pup season’ – many grey seal pups are rescued after becoming injured or separated from their mothers. These are taken to the in-house seal hospital until they’re strong enough to be released back into the wild.
Visit a nature reserve
The Lizard Peninsula itself is one of the southwest’s largest nature reserves (known as the Lizard National Nature Reserve). However, within this area you’ll also find smaller nature reserves, including Windmill Farm: a remarkable heathland habitat managed by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The reserve features two marked paths to help you explore, with the Nature Trail leading you through areas that are perfect for dragonflies and damselflies, warblers (including the grasshopper warbler), cuckoos, and meadow pipits, as well as rare plant species such as the endangered pygmy rush.