Hayle Estuary is an RSPB reserve, home to many varieties of wetland birds. At this renowned nature reserve and designated site of special scientific interest (SSSI), you will see oystercatchers, curlews, little egrets, tiny teal and flocks of winter wigeon, heaven for birdwatchers but also fascinating for those less serious nature-lovers, too.
The habitat of sand and mud here entices wonderful wading birds and winter waterfowl, with up to 18,000 flocking here each year due to its mild climate.
The birds provide a wonderful sight and a cacophony of sound. In summer, watch out for the beautiful sight of an osprey. Of course, the predominant species is likely to be gulls of various types, but serious birdwatchers will be thrilled at the prospect of copper and blue winter kingfishers, ringed plovers and black-tailed godwits. There are also occasional sightings of rare species, such as black kites, spoonbills, and spotted sandpipers. For waders, two hours either side of high tide is the best time to spot them.
Hayle Estuary is split into 5 main areas: Lelant Saltings, Ryan’s Field, Carnsew Pool, Copperhouse Creek and Porthkidney Sands.
Lelant Saltings, a haven for gulls and ducks, is the main area and can be viewed from Lelant Train Station. Ryan’s Field is a high tide sanctuary for waders, best viewed from the Eric Grace Memorial hide. Carnsew Pool is the best low tide walking area, to which grebes are partial. Copperhouse Creek is a little more urban, favoured by mallards and mute swans. Porthkidney Sands attracts terns and other seabirds. The sheer number of birds is incredible.
The reserve is perfect for walking, even with a pushchair. The main car park is at Ryan’s Field and the nearest railway station is St Erth.