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Isle of Wight

Puffin Fratercula arctica ©Nigel Blake Website

The Isle of Wight is situated just off the south coast to the south of Portsmouth & Southampton. But more importantly it lies between the well-known birding sites of Portland Bill & Beechy Head and is slightly further out to sea than the latter.

Add to this such diverse habitats as saltwater estuary, freshwater marsh, coastal headlands and south facing chalk downland. All on an Island 15 miles by 23 miles at its widest points, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that you have an excellent birding venue.

Unfortunately we are very under watched with only a handful of good birders to cover a large area. We regularly record between 200 & 250 species a year. The New Years Day count has not failed to produce less than 100 in the last 5 years and 113 on one occasion.

Spring and Autumn are obviously the best periods, and, in recent years our small band has turned up some outstanding birds. Including: Little Shearwater, Bulwers Petrel, Purple Heron, White Stork, Black Stork, Black Kite, Red footed Falcon, Long billed Dowitcher, Roller, Little & Alpine Swifts, Radde's & Dusky Warblers, Hume's Warbler, Yellow browed & Pallas's Warbler (near annual); Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Plus regular overshoots. Below are some of the more productive sites on the Island.

In 2014 Bee-eaters nested and fledged several young for the first time in the county.

Top Sites

Alum Bay & West High Down

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Best in Autumn for migrants Yellow browed are found most years. It can also be good visible migration Larks, Finches, Pipits & Thrushes often pass over in good numbers.

Bembridge Harbour & Brading Marsh

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A good all year round site the harbour and surrounding area can hold up to 100+ Med Gulls in late summer though birds are present all year round. In winter the marsh usually holds Short eared Owls & Hen Harriers. It regularly throws up scarce and rarities.

Newtown Estuary

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Good numbers of waders and wildfowl in winter. Breeding Terns and Gulls in summer. Little Egrets out number Grey Herons here most of the year.

St Catherines Point

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The southern most tip of the Island good migrants and sea watching, try to get a SE wind for best results. Resident Dartford Warbler & Peregrines can be seen in most months. Try late April or early May for Pomeranian Skuas & Mediterranean Shearwater.

Ventnor Downs

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This site has come into it's own in recent years, and regularly turns up high numbers of common migrants as well as some scarce ones. But is best known on the Island as a raptor watch point I have seen 8 species in a day here mid August to mid September are best.


Darren J Hughes

County Recorder

Robin Attrill

17 Waterhouse Moor, Harlow, Essex CM18 6BA

01279 423467


Useful Reading

Isle of Wight Bird Report 1998

(Isle of Wight Ornithological Group) price £6.50 inc p&p from D J Hunnybun, 40 Churchill Road, Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO31 8HH

Where to Watch Birds in Dorset, Hampshire and The Isle of Wight

by George Green and Martin Cade. 4th Edition Christopher Helm 2010

ISBN: 9780713688139

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Trip Reports


Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Appuldurcombe House


Our very individual and picturesque stone holiday cottages are set within the 300 acre Appuldurcombe Estate, with wonderful views across the surrounding countryside. An excellent location for family holidays and from which to explore the Island both walking and cycling. Our Owl and Falconry Centre offers flying displays daily with birds of prey from around the world. You can also learn to fly with confidence one of our trained birds on our residential/non-residential falconry courses. Please note, no dogs allowed in the Falconry Centre. Dogs allowed ON LEADS in Appuldurcombe House and Grounds…

Bembridge Marina House


The house is on the quayside at Bembridge Marina with spectacular views over the harbour on one side and long reaching views over the Yar River Valley to Brading on the other. Birdwatchers have a fantastic watch-tower view over the newly acquired RSPB Reserve. Close by are beaches, scenic walks, fishing, sailing and the Brading Haven Yacht Club. There are many delightful pubs and restaurants in St. Helens and Bembridge…

Brambles Chine - Colwell Bay


Brambles Chine is a fully furnished self catering holiday bungalow on the Isle of Wight, located by the sea at Colwell Bay, near Freshwater sleeping up to 6 people. Nearby are the towns, beaches and attractions of Yarmouth, Colwell Bay, Freshwater, Totland Bay, Alum Bay and The Needles rocks and lighthouse…

Maytime & Plum Tree Cottages


Both set in rural locations ideal for nature lovers…

Mulberry Lawn Apartments [Self Catering Cottages] - Brading


At the end of Quay Lane walkers and bird watchers will be delighted with Brading Marshes – now mostly owned by RSPB - where the river Yar flows eastwards to Brading Haven (now known as Bembridge Harbour). Here can be seen a great variety of birds at different times of year, including hen harriers, buzzards, peregrines, stonechats, warblers, waders and migrating geese…

Nettlecombe Farm


…fully self-contained and comfortably furnished self-catering apartments…

Newnham Farm B&B


Newnham Farm is a beautiful 17th century farmhouse with extensive garden. The house is situated in the middle of the 350 acre working farm. Although only 5 minutes by car from the centre of Ryde and the Fishbourne car ferry terminal, guests experience total peace and quiet as the house is surrounded by green fields and woodland. The area is listed as outstanding landscape with ancient woodland and medieval fish ponds…


Isle of Wight Ornithological Group


Contact details etc…

Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust


We are the leading local wildlife conservation charity in the Island. The Trust seeks to increase people’s involvement in their local environment and in turn achieve better conditions for wildlife. We care for over 60 wildlife reserves – more than 6,500 acres of valuable wildlife habitat – and by providing volunteering, education and training opportunities, we enable individuals and communities to provide sustained benefit to these essential wild places…


RSPB - Brading Marshes


Satellite View

Brading Marshes is a new reserve acquired in 2001. Currently, visitor access is restricted to a network of footpaths from Brading Town and Bembridge Harbour, which provide attractive views across the reserve`s mix of wetlands…

Other Links

Birding on the Isle Of Wight


The IOW is situated about 3 miles off the South Coast of England. The Main ferry routes being - Portsmouth (to Fishbourne and Ryde); Southampton (to Cowes); and Lymington (to Yarmouth) The Island is about 22 by 15 miles a total of 147 square miles! Apart from being a popular holiday destination, it also attracts walkers, sailors, naturalists and even birdwatchers. Many varied habitats and the unspoilt nature of much of the Island make it an ideal spot for many species of bird. At most times of the year you can expect to see about 50 species in a morning's visit to a good site. On New Year`s Day some people can amass over a 100! but this requires skill and planning and even a bit of luck…

Wight Conservation - Bird Species


Interesting species of birds sighted over Wight Conservation' property, or close by, and recorded in 2002 by the Isle of Wight Ornithological Group, or reported direct to us include…