CORNWALL (St. Buryan), (S)

National Grid SW 370217 00o00´/00o00´ N/A ha 16-35m, mainly meadows and hedges with a rugged stunning heathland coastline 
September-August especially for seabird passage (27.08.93, 19-21.08.94, 29.08.94, 26.08.95)


Birding Site Guide

Probably my favourite bit of British coast (outside of Yorkshire of course!) this stunningly beautiful and picturesque headland is nestled away along narrow winding hollo’way (see note) single-track Cornish country roads.

Follow the A30 through Cornwall and past Penzance then 3 km SW of Penzance take the B3283 S to Treen and little more than a mile after take the second left (S) minor road (the first left goes to Porthcurno). Drive slowly along the narrow lanes to the hairpin and a little after is a car park and public toilets. Stop here and follow the cliff paths S to the top of the grass slope with boulders, from where there is a good vantage point for seawatching. 
It is not permitted to camp or sleep overnight in the pay car park, though people have and continue to do so. Most public car parks do not allow overnight parking to prevent ‘gypsies’ from taking up residence. If you drive to the far end of the car park onto the grass and don’t make a nuisance/disturbance it is possible to await daylight after a long night drive (as I used to from Yorkshire). I spent many a fitful night sleeping in my ‘hotel Peugeot’ estate car on birding trips and can think of nowhere more peaceful than here. 

Typical British birds can be found any time of year, with Raven and Peregrine to add interest, but the main reason this site is renowned is because of its superb seawatching ‘when it happens’. When the winds are right (for seawatching strong onshore winds are best) in September and August passage can be as good as anywhere in Britain.

For shearwater addicts this can be the highlight of the year, and though I never hit a big passage close to land I nevertheless had some fantastic birding. This site of course should be coupled with other sites in Cornwall, its all wind dependent, Pendeen on the north coast being the other major seawatching site (account coming when I get time from birding and work!). Also noted at this site are storm-petrels and other sea birds.


Hollow-ways are ancient country roads, originally un-surfaced and usually on a gradient, and often bounded on both sides by hawthorn hedgerows. The action of centuries of carthorses loosening the surface, pushing it to the sides and of countless rainstorms washing the soil away down the slope caused the road surface to drop below the surrounding landscape often by several metres. Even on level ground where soils are soft the lowering can be pronounce. Now tarmac, these lanes are the archetypical English country lanes and are found winding through rural districts throughout the land. The mythical reason British country lanes wind so much is attributed to the drunken Irish navvies, the real reason may be less prosaic and just be because people were taking the easiest route around bad ground, hollows or past large trees or peoples’ houses. 

Birds seen (this is a composite list from all my visits with the best count of any given).

  • Fulmar Fulmaris glacialis
  • Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus
  • Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus
  • Mediterranean Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan

·         Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae

  • Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis
  • Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus
  • Gannet Sula bassana
  • Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
  • Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
  • Buzzard Buteo buteo
  • Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
  • Dunlin Caladris alpina
  • Common Sandpiper Actitus hypoleucus
  • Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus
  • Great Skua Stercorarius skua
  • Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
  • Common Gull Larus canus
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
  • Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  • Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
  • Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
  • Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
  • Common Tern Sterna hirundo
  • Stock Dove Columba oenas
  • Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
  • Swallow Hirundo rustica
  • Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus
  • Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
  • Grey Wagtail Motocilla cinerea
  • Pied Wagtail Motocilla alba
  • Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
  • Dunnock Prunella modularis
  • Robin Erithacus rubecula
  • Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
  • Blackbird Turdus merula
  • Whitethroat Sylvia communis
  • Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
  • Great Tit Parus major
  • Magpie Pica pica
  • Jackdaw Corvus monedula
  • Raven Corvus corax
  • Carrion Crow Corvus corone corone
  • Starling Sturmus vulgaris
  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  • Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
  • Linnet Carduelis cannabina

Author: BSG