RSPB Hayle Estuary

Cornwall  >  United Kingdom

Hayle Estuary is the most south-westerly estuary in the UK and it never freezes, making it a haven for gulls, waders and wildfowl in winter.

Added* by Jalal Khan
Most recent update 13 January 2024


Winter is the best time to visit Hayle, as the number of birds in the estuary can be up to 18,000. Among the gull flocks, you can find Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull or even an American vagrant like a Ring-billed Gull. American Common Teal and American Wigeon can also be seen among the thousands of native teals and Eurasian Wigeon. In autumn and winter, among the more common waders, including many European Golden Plover, there could be Spotted Redshank, Spoonbill, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff or an American wader like a Pectoral Sandpiper. Several different tern species can be seen on spring passage. The estuary is best viewed from the causeway bridge or the path around Carnsew Pool, which is favoured by Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser. All five of the world's diver species have also been seen there. The area is also good for Common Kingfisher and it's worth visiting the hide at Ryan's field for a chance to see one as well as the resident Eurasian Curlew. In late summer, you may see an Osprey visiting the estuary if you're very lucky.



By road - From the town of Hayle, go west on the B3301 Carnsew Road along the estuary, then turn left onto Chenalls Road (signposted St Erth) and take the first right into the car park at Ryan's Field. From there, you can visit the hide and walk to the causeway bridge and Carnsew pool.

Terrain and Habitat

Wetland , Grassland , Mud flats , City/village , Reedbeds , River


Flat , Open landscape

Circular trail


Is a telescope useful?

Can be useful

Good birding season

Winter , Autumn , Spring

Best time to visit



Paved road , Narrow trail , Wide path , Unpaved road

Difficulty walking trail


Accessible by


Birdwatching hide / platform



View other birding spots in the area that are published on Birdingplaces


Top 5 birds

Other birds you can see here

Show more birds Show less birds
Show more images Show less images

Comments & Tips

Click on the little bird icon () to insert bird names in your own language. The birdnames will automatically be translated for other users!