Hayle Wildlife

King George Walk beside Copperhouse Pool, Hayle
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King George Walk beside Copperhouse Pool, Hayle

Hayle with its river estuary, Towans and coastline,its parks, gardens and pools, is blessed with a wide variety of habitats ideal for  wildlife.

Hayle-Gwithian Towans  is the second largest dune area in Cornwall and supports an amazing
one-fifth of all plants that are found in the county, as well as a multitude of insects, butterflies and birds. Rabbits are a common sight and are vital to the area, as their grazing keeps the dune grassland short, enabling many wild flowers to grow including the Pyramidal Orchid and Birdsfoot Trefoil.

The Hayle Estuary is home to many fish species and they in turn provide plentiful food supplies for the large number of birds that use this most westerly Estuary in the country especially in the winter months. The RSPB owns and manages the whole of this Estuary and also provides a hide specifically for bird watching at Ryan’s Field.

Cormorant, Hayle
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Cormorant, Hayle, photo courtesy of David Flumm

The King George V Memorial Walk has been planted with a wonderful selection of unusual trees creating a wonderful green and leafy canopy along the perimeter of Copperhouse Pool, a large tidal water originally created as a tidal sluice to keep the Estuary navigable for boats.

 

 

 

In Nature Notes of Hayle Georgina Schofield writes:

At Copperhouse Pool large flocks of Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck spend most of the winter feeding on the mudflats with the resident Swans. Small numbers of Goldeneye, Little Grebe and Coot also arrive from late October onwards. Up to 3,000 Golden Plover and several hundred Lapwings spend the hours of low water resting on the Pool, together with Dunlin, Redshank and Oystercatchers. Flocks of Curlew come down from the moors to hunt along the tide-line,with tiny Sandlings and Turnstones for company. Snipe visit in very cold winters. Peregrines and Kestrels scour the estuary mud for weak birds and pigeons. Occasionally the bright flash of a Kingfisher can be spotted near the Swimming Pool or the Stepping Stones in front of the Copperhouse Dock. Along the scoria wall flanking the north side of Copperhouse Pool is an abundance of wildflowers. Kidney Vetch,Lucerne, Glasswort, Pale Flax and rarities such as Ivy Broomrape,Balm-leaved Figwort and Rosy Garlic can be found there, with many more colourful species, blooming around the Pool throughout the year.

Meadowsweet growing near Copperhouse Pool, Hayle
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Meadowsweet growing at Wilson’s Pool, Hayle

At the head of Copperhouse Pool,  silting has enabled a marshy wet environment to grow and this area is a great spot for butterfly hunting in the summer months. This area is called Wilson’s Pool – a saltmarsh with thick reed beds,(an unusual habitat in Cornwall), which attract many birds throughout the year. It is one of the main roosting sites for Pied Wagtails and an additional feeding/roosting site for overwintering wildfowl. Botanically, it is very important, supporting well-developed plant communities, in particular the Halophytes or Salt Loving species, including Round-Fruited Rush, which is known at only one other site in Cornwall. Other species include Sea Thrift,Sea Aster and Long-Bracted Sedge. The reed beds also attract Dragon- and Damselflies. The nationally rare Common Hawker Dragonfly has been recorded on Wilson’s Pool.

Below is a list of just a few of the varieties of fauna and flora that can be found in this area:
{| border=’0px’
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|-
| [[File:halye_wildlife_cormorant.jpg]]
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| ”’Cormorant”’
This species is commonly seen around the Hayle Estuary at any time of the year.
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| [[File:hayle_wildlife_cornishpalm.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Cornish Palm”’
The Cornish Palm can be seen growing in borders and gardens around Hayle.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_grey_seal.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Grey Seal”’
Grey Seals use some of the coves in the Hayle Bay area to give birth to their young. These creatures are very shy and can easily be disturbed by human activity.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_manx_shearwater.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Manx Shearwater”’
This bird, identified by its long straight slim wings, breeds in colonies on offshore islands but can sometimes be spotted while on migration to South America.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_marsh_marigold.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Marsh Marigold”’
A member of the buttercup family, this plant likes to grow in wet areas around the Hayle Estuary.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_meadow_pipit.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Meadow Pipit”’
A small brown-streaked songbird with a high piping call and jerky flight, often seen in small flocks.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_creeping_thistle.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Creeping Thistle”’
Although considered by many gardeners and farmers as an invasive weed, the thistle provides food for over 20 species of butterfly, including the Painted Lady and Red Admiral, and the seeds are an important food for finches.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_english_stonecrop.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’English Stonecrop”’
A low-growing, fleshy, evergreen that growsl over walls and rocks. It has egg-shaped, fleshy and waxy-grey leaves tinged with red, and small, branched clusters of pink flowers.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_hemlock_water_drop_wort.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Hemlock Water Drop Wort”’
Also known as Devil’s parsnip. All of this plant is poisonous to animals and humans, especially the roots – do not touch!
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_birdsfoot_trefoil.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Bird’s Foot Trefoil”’
Sometimes called Lady’s Fingers, Birdsfoot Trefoil is a common perennial that thrives in short grassland and on roadsides. The flower heads (up to 15 mm long) are made up of 4 to 6 yellow flowers on long stalks, and sometimes streaked with red.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_orange_tip.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Orange Tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines)”’
Just the male has orange tips to his wings; both male and female have mottled undersides. The orange tip tells predators that they are highly distasteful.Look out for Orange tips in gardens, hedgerows and meadows between April and July.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_painted_lady.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Painted Lady Butterfly (Cynthia cardui)”’
This pretty butterfly is a lot tougher than it looks, emigrating to and from Northern Africa in the Spring and Autumn.Large numbers were seen in Cornwall in 2009.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Hummingbird Hawkmoth (Macroglossum stellatarum)”’
Named after its resemblance to a hummingbird, with its rapid hovering motion as it feeds on the nectar of flowers.Look out for this exotic visitor from Africa in the summer months.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo)”’
Found near streams and rivers with coloured wings and a metallic green body. Flight is fluttering similar to a butterfly.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_pyramidal_orchid.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Pyramidal Orchid”’
One of the floral delights of the summer, this small pink orchid grows widely across the Towans.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Little Egret (Egretta garzetta))”’
Look out for the little Egret along estuaries such as the Hayle River where it feeds on fish. A small heron with black legs and yellow feet and attractive white plumage.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)”’
A small sociable black crow with a grey neck and pale eyes. Can be seen in fields, woods parks and gardens.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Buzzard (Buteo buteo)”’
With its broad wings and rounded tail, the buzzard can be easily distinguished as it soars gracefully overhead. Can often be seen sitting on telegraph poles by the roadside. Plumage is dark brown above and mottled brown below. Feeds on insects and small mammals.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Herring Gull”’
Herring gulls are large, noisy gulls found all around our coast; they are scavengers so watch out when eating your pasty or ice cream outdoors!
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)”’
A primitive plant often used as a medicinal herb. Has dark green, hollow, jointed or segmented stems.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Cormorant ”’
Although a few pairs nest at Hells Mouth, this species is more commonly seen around the estuary at any time of the year.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber)”’
This plant comes originally from the Mediterranean but is now prevalent throughout Cornwall growing on cliffs, hedges, walls and waste ground. With its crimson flowers open from early summer to late autumn it is loved by bees and butterflies alike.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_adder.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Adder (Vipera berus)”’
Easily recognised by its bold zig-zag stripe down its back. Britain’s only snake with a poisonous bite so treat with respect! Likes open habitats – moorland, sea cliffs and open woodland.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Common Frog (Rana temporaria)”’
6-9cm in length with smooth skin and variable skin colour. Often ventures far from its breeding pond and can be found almost anywhere between May and October. During the winter by breathing through its skin it can hibernate underwater beneath decaying leaves and mud.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg‎]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Pipefish (Syngnathus fuscus)”’
The name accurately describes this fish, three species of which can  be found under stones when rockpooling. They have an unusual breeding habit; the males have a brooding pouch in which the female lays her eggs.The male then looks after the eggs until they hatch.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_lapwing.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Lapwing”’
Especially common in cold winters but absent at other times, the largest flocks gather at Copperhouse and Lelant Water, roosting at Ryan’s Field.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_shelduck.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Shelduck”’
If you see these bringing their ducklings across the roads from their rabbit-hole breeding grounds in the Towans, please give them a chance to reach the safety of the estuary!
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_bar_tailed_goodwit.jpg‎]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Bar-tailed Godwit”’
A large pale wader with a long straight bill, occurs in small numbers in the estuary throughout the year.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Cornish Sucker Fish”’
Occurs on rocky, seaweed covered shores, particularly among small boulders. Most common in the intertidal zone amongst the algae.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Basking Shark”’
The second largest fish in the world; like their larger counterpart – the whale shark – they feed on plankton. Regularly seen off the Cornish coast. They can grow to over 10 metres in length and weigh over seven tonnes. Basking Sharks often appear around the coast of Cornwall in the summer to feed on plankton.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Common Blenny”’
A typical rock pool fish, has slimy, scaleless skin and colour varies from grey, to olive-green and brown to provide camouflage against birds.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_weever_fish.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Weever fish”’
Weever fish have poisonous spines on their dorsal fin. Watch out at low tides if walking barefoot – if you do get stung by a weever fish, it can be very painful; a remedy is to soak the sting in very hot water to reduce the pain or seek medical advice. They are long (up to 37 cm), mainly brown and have poisonous spines on their first dorsal fin and gills. They like to bury themselves in the sand and catch their prey as it comes past – small fish and shrimp. They lack a swim bladder and as a result sink as soon as they stop actively swimming.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_mackerel.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Mackerel”’
A silver-bluefish with black and iridescent barred colouration. They have a very streamlined body with a deeply forked tail.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Ballan Wrasse (Labrus bergylta)”’
The most frequently seen fish on the Cornish coast. Young Ballan wrasse can be seen in shallow water and rock pools and are often bright green in colour. They have protruding lips and very strong teeth for eating small crustaceans and molluscs.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Red Gurnard (Trigla cuculus) ”’
Deep red in colour, this fish prefers deep waters on the south and west coasts of Great Britain.They are bottom feeders and use their pectoral fins to search the seabed for food. A favourite eating fish for many Cornish people.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_scented_mayweed.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Scented Mayweed”’
This pleasantly aromatic herb has finely divided, feathery leaves and scented daisy-like flowers.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Gannet”’
Britain’s largest seabird; the ones here have flown over 100 miles from their island breeding colonies off Pembrokeshire to feed in St Ives Bay.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Grey Heron”’
Competes for feeding and roosting space with Little Egrets.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Little Grebe”’
Hayle is the premier site in Cornwall for Little Grebes and Dabchicks, particularly Copperhouse Pool, Carnsew Pool and the harbour in winter.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Kestrel”’
Once more common, this declining farmland bird is still to be seen at the Towans in search of field voles.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Peregrine”’
One of the fastest birds in the world, this spectacular bird of prey can now be seen regularly hunting waders and wildfowl at the Estuary, especially in winter.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Sparrowhawk”’
More common than the kestrel, this species never hovers, instead pursues its prey in flight, attacking by surprise.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Wigeon”’
The commonest wintering wildfowl; over 3,000 have been seen at the RSPB Reserve in cold winters.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Teal”’
Our smallest British duck; over 1,000 have been counted at Copperhouse and Lelant Water in winter.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Oyster Catcher”’
Commonly seen around the Estuary; only a single pair breed here – on the islands in Ryans Field, part of the RSPB Nature Reserve.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Dunlin”’
Hayle has the distinction of hosting the most southerly recorded Dunlin in Britain.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_curlew.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Curlew”’
With a bill up to 15cm long, this wader can reach prey other birds only dream about!
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Redshank”’
Present all year round but commonest in autumn when up to 100 may be seen in the estuary. Its bright orange legs give it away.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Great Black-Backed Gull”’
The largest British Gull; up to 300 may appear in stormy weather in the Estuary.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Herring Gull”’
The seagull of British towns, with 125 pairs nesting in Hayle in 1999. The species is declining nationally however, and is now ‘red-listed’.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Black-headed Gull”’
The commonest gull from autumn through winter, (when they do not have a black head!) with hundreds using the estuary in bad weather.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Skylark”’
Skylarks favour the semi-fixed dunes for nesting; they are easily frightened by humans and dogs, and may abandon their nests. The male skylark may often be heard singing high up in the sky – this is to distract predators from the nests and young birds on the ground. A nationally declining farmland bird, still found breeding across the Towans in large numbers.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Stonechat”’
This robin-size species is always easy to see as it sits atop a gorse bush or fence post looking out for insect prey. As its name implies, the Stonechat has a distinctive call, sounding like two stones knocked together.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Sand Martin”’
A few pairs of this smaller, brown relative of the Swallow breed in the cliffs beside Gwithian Sands.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_sandwich_tern.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Sandwich Tern”’
A fairly common summer migrant from African waters, often seen plunge diving for sand eels along the shore.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_thick_lipped_grey_mullet.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Thick-lipped Grey Mullet”’
These can be seen with the incoming tide at Copperhouse Pool, feeding on the muddy floor.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’European Pond Turtle”’
Not a native species, this creature can sometimes be seen basking on the banks of the Millponds where a small colony has taken up residence!
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_sea_bass.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Sea Bass”’
Sea Bass; the prize catch of local fishermen, are caught around the Hayle Estuary and off the beach.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Common Wrasse”’
A well-built wrasse, with a deep set compressed body, and large head and thick fleshy lips. Colouration varies with age and sex, with young fish being a shade of green, whilst older individuals tend towards a reddish brown / dark green livery, with numerous small white spots all over.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Slow Worm”’
Slow worms prefer humid habitats including grassy meadows, gardens, farmland, woodland margins and open fields.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Common Lizard”’
You can find lizards basking in the sunshine on hedgerows and warm stones.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Glow Worm”’
Look out for these on the dunes in the summer months lighting the dark to attract a female.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_silver_studded_blue.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Silver Studded Blue Butterfly”’
This rare butterfly often lives in small colonies. The males have light blue reflective scales on the underside of their wings. Favourite foods are nectar from heather, gorse and Birds Foot Trefoil.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_six_spot_burnet_moth.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Six-Spot Burnet Moth”’
A day-flying moth easily distinguished by its red wings and black spots, showing that it is poisonous to predators.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_painted_lady.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Painted Lady”’
This pretty butterfly is a lot tougher than it looks,migrating to and from North Africa in the Spring and Autumn.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Red Admiral”’
Gardens hedgerows and orchards are favourite habitats; the caterpillars feed on nettles.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_blank.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Rabbit”’
Rabbits are vital to the Towans as they maintain the variety of habitats through grazing. They are often considered pests on farmland, but on the dunes they help to stop brambles and other scrubby plants covering over the flower-rich dune habitats. The rabbits live in burrows or hide in the bramble bushes.
|-
| [[File:hayle_wildlife_water_vole.jpg]]
| [[File:30pad.gif]]
| ”’Water Vole”’
These creatures  resemble rats and build their burrows along the banks of the Hayle Estuary.
|-
|}