The Lizard is characterised by tracts of internationally important heathland and grassland,
and an extensive coastline providing cliff, sand dune and intertidal habitats.
The coast supports maritime heath and grassland whereas inland, large areas of lowland
heathland are interspersed with unimproved grassland and cultivated farmland. Almost all the
heathland, wetland and unimproved grassland lie over igneous rocks in the south of the
The range of semi-natural habitats on the Lizard supports a high diversity of plants and
animals. Over two hundred and fifty species of national or international conservation importance are to be
found here, many of which are restricted to the Lizard, to Cornwall, or to the
south-west of England.
The Lizard is recognised as being of outstanding conservation importance for plants.
It is home to nearly seventy-five nationally rare or scarce flowering plants, many of which are found in
the heathland, maritime grassland, mire and cliff habitats. A key component of these is
Cornish heath, a species which, although rare in a national context, is locally abundant.
This red-legged, red-billed member of the crow family earned itself the name 'Cornish chough' because of its close association
with the county for several hundred years.
There can be few instances of such a close association between a county and a bird.
Even today, the chough's symbolism for Cornwall can be easily found for it features on the county coat of arms,
proudly sitting on top of the crest flanked by a tin miner and fisherman as a striking reminder of the county's proud traditions.
Basking sharks arrive off the Cornish coast between late April through to August.
Basking sharks are, of course, plankton feeders, and as such do not have teeth,
which erases one obvious reason to avoid them! However, their sheer size (up to 10 metres in length,
and up to 7 tonnes in weight) should make anyone aware that they possess incredible physical power.
Gulls nest in large, densely packed noisy colonies around the Lizard coastline.
Cornwall's rocky, isolated caves and coves are home to numerous colonies of grey seals,
one of the rarest species of seal in the world and the biggest land-breeding mammal in the UK.
The animals spend most of their time in the sea, an environment to which they are brilliantly adapted.
Feeding mainly on fish and squid, grey seals can dive up to 70 metres for a catch.
The surrounding seas are full of life ranging in size from the large basking sharks to the tiny plankton they feed on.
In between there are animals of all shapes and sizes, including fish, jellyfish, squid, octopus, crabs, lobsters and shellfish.
The list is endless.
Along The Shoreline
In the rockpools along the rocky shoreline fish and crabs may be found.
Barnacles, limpets and mussels cover some of the rocks in the intertidal zone.
Much more wildlife to see
For those interested in more information about the local fauna, you can visit Windmill Farm nature reserve on the Lizard managed
by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The farm comprises both grassland and heathland.
A brochure for Windmill Farm nature reserve is available:
Windmill Farm Leaflet