Birdwatching around St Ives, Carbis Bay and the adjacent coast can be a very rewarding experience and add another dimension to your visit.
Starting from the harbour and walking westwards to the Island you can see Turnstones (small orange and pied waders) running along the quay and beach, and the ubiquitous gulls. Herring gulls are the large ones with a pale grey back and pink legs. Lesser Black-backed gulls are of a similar size with a dark back and yellow legs and the very large dark backed Gull with pink legs is the Greater Black-backed. Most of the small gulls are Black-headed gulls.
From the Island, you can “sea watch” for Manx Shearwaters, Gannets (large white birds with black wing tips), Razorbills, Puffins, Guillemots and more. While on the rocks will be small Robin sized Rock Pipits, with similar sized white rumped Wheatears in spring or summer on the grass of the Island itself. Very often Buzzards will be soaring in the sky (large brown birds with conspicuous “fingers” of flight feathers at the blunt wingtips).
If you are lucky as you proceed along the coast towards Land’s End, you should encounter a large falcon, the Peregrine, by no means uncommon now, and the hovering smaller falcon, the Kestrel. Other birds along the route to Land’s End are Linnets, Goldfinches, Stonechats.
In summer in late evening, by the climbing centre along the B3306 (no need to leave the road), on the side of Carn Galver you can hear the Nightjars “churring”, and during the winter mostly here you could see a Hen Harrier or Short eared Owl, and all year Ravens are about. At Land’s End itself, there is a RSPB hide and optical equipment for viewing the Kittiwake colony and nesting Shags.
Setting off from St Ives in the opposite direction around Carbis Bay may yield small delicate seabirds rather like gulls, these are terns, Sandwich, Common and Arctic terns, with occasional Little terns, are fairly common. The wooded hillsides of Carbis Bay are home to Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, various warblers in Spring and Summer, and perhaps a Redbacked or Woodchat Shrike.
Finally you will arrive at Hayle estuary (or take the train from St Ives, a short interesting journey along the cliffs and shore to Lelant Station). Here you can see a large variety of wading birds, ducks and the now regular Little Egrets (small white herons). Crossing the road between the estuary and the Hayle by-pass brings you to the RSPB reserve of Ryan’s Field. This is a series of lagoons and islands with a very good free car park and observation centre. This is a good place for seeing Kingfishers as well as wading birds, including, in Spring or late Summer, rarities (ask any birder you see what there is at present and most of them will be glad to help, there is also a day to day log).