Hayle Estuary is a nationally renowned RSPB nature reserve incorporating a variety of habitats. During cold winters up to 18,000 birds can be found here, on what is the most southerly estuary in the UK and one of the few that never freezes. The site, which has SSSI status in order to protect wintering wildfowl and waders, includes Ryan's Field, an enclosed area across the road from the main estuary that can be viewed from a purpose-built hide.
In the spring and autumn look out for migrating waders, gulls and terns, while in the summer, if you are very lucky, you may even spot an Osprey. As well as rarities, the estuary is home to numerous colourful residents, including Curlew, Little Egret, Oyster Catchers and flocks of Widgeon.
Across the harbour the excellent bird watching conditions continue along Copperhouse Creek, which runs the length of the town. The eastern end of the creek is best at high tide when waders and gulls gather on exposed grassy areas, while the western end is famous for its rare birds of passage, such as the long-staying Ring-Billed Gull and the Pied-Billed Grebe, many of whom commute between the creek and the estuary.
Both sites are good for walking, with pushchair-friendly paths, and Hayle can be easily accessed either from the A30, the main railway line or national cycle route number three.