Confessions of a coastal birder

Bird watching at Godrevy, Cornwall

There’s nothing quite like finding birds on your own patch and for me this means a visit to the National Trust-owned coastline at Godrevy and the neighbouring St Gothians nature reserve, on the eastern edge of St Ives Bay.

Here there’s a good range of resident and breeding birds so there’s something to see at any time of year, with the added bonus of unusual or rare species turning up on a regular basis. 
 

Birding paradise

For a keen birder like me nothing beats spring or autumn migration for sheer excitement. The headlands at Godrevy and the nearby Knavocks are excellent for watching visible migration with pipits, finches, wheatears and swallows passing through in good numbers on the right day, and a better-than-even chance of a peregrine putting in an appearance.
 
Given the small numbers of regular birders the rarity list is impressive including: woodchat shrike, red-rumped swallow, American robin, barred warbler, Richard’s pipit, black-winged stilt, upland sandpiper and killdeer. Alternatively, if a northerly gale is howling I take a telescope and scan the sea for passing seabirds including Manx and sooty shearwaters, skuas, storm petrels and the chance of something even rarer (seabirds logged at the famous St Ives watchpoint must surely pass here just a few minutes earlier).
 
However it doesn’t need a rarity to make a day special – a skylark singing in a clear sky, a kestrel hovering above the road, or a flock of gannets diving offshore is all I need to get my birding fix.
 
Bill Makin, Ranger, Godrevy