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

    Satellite View
    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

    Satellite View
    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

    Satellite View
    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

    Satellite View
    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

    Satellite View
    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
  • Jon Sparshott

    Leopards, Main Road, Haven Street, IoW PO33 4DR

    01983 882549

Useful Reading

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

    | By Dr G Green & M Cade | Christopher Helm | 2010 | Paperback | 384 pages, 44 b/w illustrations, 60 maps | ISBN: 9780713688139 Buy this book from
  • 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.

Abbreviations Key

  • RSPB Brading Marshes

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

  • Isle of Wight Birding

    Facebook Group
    Discussion Group
Places to Stay

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 9 The Ruskins

    This delightful family holiday home can be found just a short stroll from the beautiful beaches of Bembridge and a wonderful array of traditional shops and restaurants. Light filled and with oodles of space, 9 The Ruskins is a contemporary semi-detached home, perfect for family holidays or groups of friends looking for an island getaway.
  • 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
  • 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

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

    Latest Sightings
  • 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

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