Bird Spotting Guide

The following are just a few of the birds you are likely to see whilst on the Tamar estuary.

Comorant - Often seen perched in trees or on posts with wings outstretched.  Cormorants are expert fisherman.



 Ringed Plover - Small wading bird with prominent head markings and black 'mask'.  Ringed plovers walk slowly across mud and sand picking up tiny items of food from the surface.


  Shelduck - Bulky water bird with distinctive red bill that nests in hollows, often using abandoned rabbit burrows.  Look out for creches of shellduck ducklings during the summer.

Black Tailed Godwit - A tall, elegant wading bird with a long straight bill that probes deep into the mud for food.  In flight very bold black and white wingbars are visible.  Summer adult plumage has a red neck and breast.



Oystercatcher - Large, black and white wading bird with powerful, deep-orange bill.  Oystercatchers have a loud 'peeping' call and nest near many estuaries. 


Redshank - A noisy, active, medium-sized wading bird with bright orange legs and bill that nests in the salt marshes in estuaries.

Little Egret - elegant, snowy-white 'heron'.  Little Egret's were once a rare visitor, but are now often seen on the estuaries.


And of course


Avocet Tamar River: Avocet, Tamar River

The avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) is symbolic of nature conservation in Britain. Avocets were hunted to extinction in Britain in the 19th century and remained absent from our bird population for over a century until encouraged to breed again on the east coast following the Second World War. A member of the stilt family, the avocet has long legs, white plumage with black patches on the head, back and wings, and a characteristic upturned bill. More information on the avocet is available at the RSPB.

Most avocets over-winter in Africa, however, many have recently chosen to over-winter in the Tamar estuary. The Tamar population stays between October and April and can be viewed from the river flying from point to point in small flocks, or feeding in mixed flocks of waders. Locally organised bird-watching cruises operate on the Tamar throughout the winter. The Tamar and its estuaries form a Special Protection Area designated for this species and the Little Egret.

You may also see any of the following: