Lizards and adders emerging from hibernation. Glow worms shining in the grass. Young rabbits grazing on The Towans. Gannets feeding in Gwithian bay. Skylarks nesting in the heather. Stone chats perching on gorse. Seals lounging on rocks. Dolphins playing out at sea. While you’re with us, you’ll be sharing your home with a wonderful world of flora and fauna.\r\n\r\nStep out of your door and explore the maze of sandy paths that criss-cross the wild area of dunes and grassland. Head down to the shoreline or hop on a boat and make the acquaintance of the local marine population.
This protected area is your personal, local wildlife park. Close to the sea are areas of shifting dunes and marram grass, while thistles and orchids populate the landward dunes. Further back, you’ll find grasslands studded with tiny flowers, like the birds-foot-trefoil and common dog violet, which are the favourites of butterflies. Look out for the pretty, not-so-common silver-studded blue.
It’s hard to believe that this large pool with an island at its centre was once a commercial sandpit. All kinds of birds congregate here, including several species of geese, ducks, swans, and other waterfowl, as well as sand martins and the occasional peregrine falcon. You’ll find it behind Gwithian beach.
The UK’s most south-westerly estuary has such a mild climate that more than 18,000 birds flock there in winter when you can spot teal and wigeon feeding on the algae. But Hayle is a birdwatcher’s paradise all year round, with curlew, little egrets and oystercatchers sighted regularly. The best bets for twitchers are the RSPB Nature Reserves at Carnsew Pool, Copperhouse Pool, Lelant Water, and Ryan’s Field.
How far? 5 to 10-minute drive.
Grey seals are common around these parts; you can spot one bobbing around in the water at any time of year. In winter, there can be a hundred or more hauled up on the beach near Godrevy Lighthouse. Dolphin sightings are rarer, but it’s always worth keeping an eye out for pods of bottlenose and common varieties playing in the waves off Gwithian. In the summer months, a basking shark might make an appearance. But don’t fret, these gentle giants feed solely on plankton. For those with the keenest vision, glimpses of harbour porpoises, minke whales, sunfish, and Atlantic bluefin tuna are also not unheard of. Cornwall is also a haven for seabirds. The rarer ones to clap eyes on are gannets, shearwaters, fulmars, and, sometimes, even a puffin or two.
How far? Right on your doorstep.
If you want to get up close and personal with our marine life and feel the spray on your face, regular boat tours leave St Ives lifeboat station on the harbour. Trips include Seal Island, Dolphin Watching, and Godrevy Lighthouse. If you fancy exploring the south coast, then head over to Penzance, where there’s a range of tour companies offering coastal and wildlife cruises.
How far? 20 minute drive.
For more on exploring the local wilderness in St Ives Bay, take a look at the Fun On The Water blog.