In the summer of 2005 the sand works between Gwithian and Godrevy was officially declared a nature reserve by the Mayor of Hayle. The newly named Saint Gothian Sands Nature Reserve has long been known as a good area for birds with a number of rarities to its name including a Killdeer in 2002.
Once the remaining sand extraction has finished, in the near future, work will start to create lagoons and more habitat for wildlife. A sand martin bank has already been cut into an existing sand wall in hope of attracting birds from the small colony that have recently begun nesting in the nearby cliffs at Godrevy and fencing has been erected around the main lagoon to keep out the dog walkers!
Winter on the site can be bleak but ducks and gulls keep up the interest. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls have both been seen recently with Scaup, Pintail and shoveler in the duck category. The sea can be seen from the north bank overlooking Carbis Bay and is good for grebes and Divers. An American Robin turned up in the winter of 2004 on the nearby Towans and Black redstart and Water pipit are annual at this time of year. Gothian is a good site for early migrants attracting Wheatear, Sand martins and Little ringed plover. Woodchat Shrike has also occurred at nearby Gwithian. Waders recorded include Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Wood and Green Sandpipers and Ruff on Passage. The Towans are occasionally visited by Ring Ouzel and Merlin and Peregrines and Raven are regularly seen flying over. Smaller birds are under represented due to lack of vegetation but Stonechat, linnet, meadow and rock pipit and winter thrushes are recorded regularly. The reserve has ideal habitat for Twite, so checking finch flocks could be worth while. Snow bunting is also an occasional visitor.
If the dog walkers are kept at bay and with the correct management the reserve should continue to be a great birding location on the north coast.
Saint Gothian Sands Nature reserve can be found along the B3303 coast road between Hayle and Portreath adjacent to the Godrevy Towans National Trust Reserve. It is owned by Cornwall County Council and forms part of the Towans SSSI. Free parking is available but limited during peak holiday times and particularly if the surf is good. Until such time that dog walking is totally banned on the reserve, Sunday morning visits are not advisable!