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Isle of Wight

Puffin Fratercula arctica ©Nigel Blake Website

Birding the Isle of Wight

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 over 100 species 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) 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 Dr G. Green and M. Cade | Christopher Helm | 2010 | Paperback | 384 pages, 44 b/w illus, 60 maps |

ISBN: 9780713688139

Buy this book from NHBS.com


Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust


Thinking big – a landscape-scale approach to nature conservation. Wildlife needs space. The nature reserves we manage are precious wildlife havens, alive with plants, birds, mammals and insects. But alone, they’re not enough to ensure that our wildlife survives and flourishes into the future. The wider landscape surrounding these sites is often inhospitable to wildlife. Intensive farmland, towns and cities, busy roads and railways all make it difficult for wildlife to move between safe havens.

Isle of Wight Natural History & Archaeological Society


January and February - The milder weather conditions in our area may attract movement of birds from the colder north. It is worth watching the Solent, especially Woodside Bay and off Seaview, for divers, grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers. The estuaries at Yarmouth and Newtown should see flocks of Brent Geese, Black Tailed Godwit, Golden Plover and other waders. Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler,Gadwall and Tufted Duck will also be seen. It is also worth looking at St Helens Duver, Bembridge Harbour and the Brading RSPB Reserve. Inland: walking the cyclepath between Shide and Blackwater you might be lucky to see Siskin and Redpolls. Large flocks of finches may be seen roaming farmland and frequenting hedges.

Isle of Wight Ornithological Group


Contact details etc…


Abbreviations Key

RSPB Brading Marshes


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Brading Marshes is the RSPB's first reserve on the Isle of Wight. It covers most of the beautiful valley of the lower River Yar running from the village of Brading to the sea at Bembridge Harbour.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Isle of Wight ( IOW ) Birds, Latest Sightings



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…

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…


Birding on the Isle of Wight


Our diamond shaped Island is famous for its extraordinary geology, which in turn creates a wide variety of habitats – river estuaries, high cliffs, marshy wetlands, woodland and rolling countryside. This natural diversity makes it a wonderful destination for watching birds; whether you are a serious birders looking to add to your annual list, or a casual bird watcher just enjoying the fresh air and taking in the views. It is particularly good for spotting migrating birds that pass by the Island during the autumn and spring months.

Other Links

Bird Watching on Isle of Wight


Majestic sea cliffs and sweeping beaches; the quiet solitude of ancient woodlands; an ever changing patchwork of worked fields; the timeless and enduring presence of the downs: intricate inlets of tranquil creeks; long distance views from the coastal heath and downland; winding paths; shutes and hollow ways in the countryside; Chines and steps down cliffs to miles of beaches; all make the landscape a perfect place for birdwatching.

Bird watching on the Isle of Wight


The Isle of Wight is a great place to watch birds - some of the best sites are on National Trust land. Over 200 species are recorded on the Island each year. Quite a few rarities visit us due to our proximity to mainland Europe and migration routes. There's a wide range of habitats: muddy creeks, ancient woodlands, open downs – and of course nowhere on the Island is far from the sea.

Birding on the Isle of Wight


Including 100's of pictures of Birds, Insects, Mammals and views of the Isle of Wight, by Derek Hale

Its all about the birds


This guide is divided up into five different sites, with a map of each area and the key species you may find there. On each area page there is a rough outline of some recommended routes around the area with detail on the distance and any notes about the type of area you will be visiting, There are also some examples of the types of facilities in the area such as public transport, access and refreshments.

Red Funnel - Bird Watching


Our guide to bird watching on the Isle of Wight

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…