Cornwall is a magnet for great bird watching and stretching down through the county is a series of granite outcrops, part of those which reach from Dartmoor to the Isles of Scilly. These give rise to a number of moor land areas, the most extensive of which is Bodmin Moor in the east of the county. As a result of this hilly spine and the short distance from coast to coast, rivers are generally fast flowing.
Tall cliffs, especially along the north coast, delineate much of the coastline. Elsewhere, drowned river-valleys or rias form the winding estuaries of the Tamar, the Fowey, Truro-Fal complex and Helford in the south and the Camel in the north. Due to its location in the far west of the country, a number of bird species which breed regularly further east fail to reach Cornwall. Seabird communities and healthy populations of e.g. Peregrine and Stonechat redress this to some extent.
The winter offers some excellent birding, especially when severe weather up-country forces huge numbers of wildfowl, waders and thrushes southwest in search of milder conditions.
It is however for its capacity to provide some of the most exciting birding in the UK during migration, particularly in the autumn, that the county has become renowned. With one of the largest county bird-lists in the country, Cornwall consistently rewards its devotees, especially in October. Cornish birders often rely on winds from the easterly quarter to bring scarce migrants, but in October anything can turn up in any conditions and westerlies also bring rarities. There are so many potentially good sites which are under-watched, that birders have plenty of opportunity to find their own birds in peace and solitude.