What a beautiful time of the year – those fading sunny days and an array of golden colours as the leaves turn, crisp misty mornings and wonderful light make it one of the most beautiful times of year in the countryside. So wrap up warm, don the wellies and get out to see the wildlife enjoying these autumn days too. These autumnal months are notorious amongst birdwatchers when virtually anything can, and will, turn up in Cornwall as thousands of birds continue their southerly migrations at this time of year.
A huge number of birds pass by Cornwall on their migratory journey or arrival from colder climates including the well known swifts and swallows, and more unusual birds like Shrike, wryneck and the Wryneck (Jynx torquila), a close relatives of the woodpeckers and now largely extinct, mainly due to the decline in traditional orchards which provided an ideal habitat for their main prey species- ants. Wrynecks were originally named from the way that they appear to be able to twist their neck so that the head is pointing in the opposite direction to the body – however this is an optical illusion caused by the stripes on its neck and shoulders. Great bird watching sites in Cornwall include The Isles of Scilly, Marazion Marsh and the Lizard.
If you are on the coast, you might be lucky enough to experience a ‘fall’ when hundreds of birds and other migrants come in off the sea and hit landfall, dropping into the vegetation – certainly a sigh to experience! You can also glimpse at flocks of the famous Cornish chough, diving gannets, shearwaters, kittiwakes and guillemots while shags, cormorants and gulls perched on the rocky cliffs and offshore reefs. These rugged cliffs are a great place to experience the magnificent ravens, peregrine falcons, and kestrels hunting smaller prey such as stonechats, wheatears and other small birds.
You can also see the influx of birds from colder climates and astonishingly almost three-quarters of a million redwings and fieldfares (the ‘winter thrushes’) spend the season in the UK, having travelled from as far afield as Scandinavia, Russia and Iceland. Whooper swans, redwings, lapwings, plovers and fieldfares also arrive having fled the arctic conditions further north.
The list for possible bird sightings is endless this time of year in Cornwall, and large flocks often fill the sky with their birdsong and undulating movements. And of course if you are looking for somewhere to stay to indulge your birdwatching nestled in the heart of the countryside then these houses are for you:
A chocolate box country cottage with a rustic feel and magnificent open fireplace in 1 ares of woodland and countryside.
Bosvathick Lodge, Consantine
A charming lodge situated near Falmouth within easy reach of the surrounding coast and countryside
An impressive house on the banks of the Helford perfect for sea and coastal bird watching.
Little Bosvarren, Constantine
Polwartha Farmhouse, Constantine