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The Isle of Wight (IOW) is situated about 3 miles off the South Coast of England.
The ferry routes are (C=Cars, P=Foot Passengers):-
  • Portsmouth to Fishbourne (C&P)
  • Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde (P)- Fast Catamaran,
  • Southsea to Ryde (P)- Hovercraft,
  • Southampton to Cowes(C&P)
  • Lymington to Yarmouth (C&P).

The Island is about 22miles E-W and 15 miles N-S a total of 147 square miles! (There are over 400mls of Footpaths!)
Apart from being a popular holiday destination, it also attracts walkers, sailors, naturalists and (increasingly) bird watchers.
Many varied habitats and the unspoilt nature of much of the Island make it an ideal spot for birds.

The RSPB has an active IOW branch and our first reserve is at "Brading Marsh",
(S. of Bembridge Harbour, towards Brading-no access yet so view from perimeter FPs)

The "Isle of Wight Ornithological Group" (I.W.O.G) has about 100 local members.
Generally the IOW is "Under Watched" often you have the place to yourself.
The best location, Newtown Nature Reserve is often deserted- even in summer.

At most times of the year you can expect to see about 50-85 species in a day visiting a good site/ or sites- depending on your expertise. (For a list of Good Sites see below.)

On New Year's day local groups spent the whole day birding, and regularly get over a 100 species! but this requires local knowledge, planning (and a bit of luck!) Totals for a year now exceed 200!
The best spots revolve around the estuaries and nature reserves-especially the National Trust areas of which there are many, mainly on the downs and coast.

Sea Watching is practised in the spring and autumn migrations, and Stormy weather.
The main site being St. Catherine's Point on the Southernmost tip of the Island, and "Fort Victoria" near Yarmouth.
Another good spot is "La Falaise" Car Park at the top end of Ventnor seafront, past "Spyglass Inn", (there are several shelters if wet)
also the new "Bandstand" on the Esplanade makes a good "hide" and shelter on rainy days.
Any headland will yield some seagoing activity though but the major movements tend to occur in early morning dying down by 10-11 am. Late afternoon (4-6pm) can also be good .
S E Winds are the best. Rarities can be blown on-shore during very stormy weather.(eg Storm Petrel)

Resident (breeding) birds include some rarer species such as Cetti's Warbler, Mediterranean Gull, Raven and Peregrine. A small population of Corn Buntings, Dartford Warblers and Stonechats.
Wheatear, Sand Martin and Spotted Flycatcher are scarce breeding birds nowadays

Spring and autumn migration brings all sorts of rarities; Raptors (Osprey, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite) Warblers, Sandpipers, various waders and Ducks.
In winter the wader and duck population reaches a peak and around the North coast Slavonian and other Grebes can be seen in the Solent together with Divers and Eider Ducks.
There are some birds you are very unlikely to see however. Marsh Tit is now scarce, and Willow Tit, Tawny Owl, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch are almost absent - despite the Island's closeness to the mainland
(Most birds can cross the Solent easily - it's a mystery why others don't.)

In compensation you will see others that are rare elsewhere. Little Egrets are everywhere, up to 100 Meditteranean Gulls can often be found at Foreland or Bembridge Harbour (Winter) or Newtown (Spring).
Peregrine, Raven, Dartford Warbler, Corn Bunting (now confined to Atherfield and Whale Chine), Curlew, Oyster Catcher, and Redshank can be found all year round. Chiff Chaff (e.g. at Brading Sewage works) overwinter in good numbers, with occasional wintering Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper.
Winter also provides Purple Sandpiper at Foreland, Short Eared Owls and Hen Harriers (Especially at Laundry Lane), and Crossbills,in Firestone and Parkhurst Forests, Siskin and Redpoll at Shide, Alverstone and Freshwater Causeway.
Small numbers of Brambling are seen most years, and Waxwing occasionally turn up.

Good Birding Locations

Refer to map for code letters.

IOW Bird sites

Click the grid reference below for map of the area, then select a larger scale-see below
(Maps are provided courtesy of

Choose Map Scale

List of Rarer Birds and where to see them.

SpeciesMap SitesRarity
Manx ShearwaterSCP2S
Arctic SkuaSCP, FLd2P
Common ScoterSCP, PkP2P
Velvet ScoterSCP1P
ShagFLd, WHD2R
Mediterranean GullBHr, FLd, RES, NNT4W
Little TernFtV, NNT2S
Great Skua "Bonxie"SCP1P
Pomarine SkuaSCP1P
NightjarPHF, MDo, FSC2S
GannetSCP, FLd, RES, Most of S. & E.coast3P, S
WheatearBHr, FLd, WHD, TBa Downs and coast3M
StonechatWHD, ADo, and coast to SCP4R
CrossbillPHF, FSC1W
RavenCDo, HHD, Blackgang-Gore Cliff3R
PeregrineCDo, WHD, NNR, SCP and S. coast3R
MerlinAPt, NNT, LLa, coastal fields2W
Dartford WarblerHD, VN, (CD)3R
Cetti's WarblerBdg, LLa, FWR, YAR2R
Corn BuntingAPt3R
Water RailBPd, LLa, FWR, MED etc.4W, 2R
Yellow WagtailCDo, WHD, SCP, LLa etc.4P
Grey WagtailYAR, SBW, Bdg3W, 2S
KingfisherBPd, NNR, YAR, MED3W, 1R
Common SandpiperNNR, BPo, OBB, MED4P, 2S
Green SandpiperBPo, Yafford Fish Farm2P
Purple SandpiperFLd, FWR and S.E Coast2W
SanderlingRES(200+), PkP, (TBB)4W
Spotted RedshankNNR, YAR, BPd2P

My Pictures of IOW birds (from Video & Still Cameras) 1999-2002
CLICK HERE for 2003 onwards

Click on small picture for full size version (Use "Back" button to return to this page.)

Birds from 2002

Scaup (M)
Island Harbour

(30th Dec)
Mandarin (F)
Carisbrooke Pond

(30th Dec)
"Tundra" Bean Goose A
St. Helens Bridge

(27th Dec)
"Tundra" Bean Goose B
St. Helens Bridge

(27th Dec)
Bembridge Ponds
(27th Dec)
Sanderling & Dunlin
Ryde Esp

(22nd. Nov)
Apse Heath

(11th Nov)

(11th Nov)
Little Owl
Gore Cliff, Blackgang

(24th Oct)
Short-eared Owl
Laundry Lane

(24th Oct)
Short-eared Owl
Laundry Lane

(27th Oct)
Barnacle Goose (Feral)
Seaview Duver

(22nd Oct)
Short-eared Owl
Laundry Lane

(24th Oct)
Sand Martin
Chale Garage

(18th Aug)
off Totland

(25th June)
Needles Cliffs

(25th June)
Freshwater Cliffs

(27th June)
Marsh Harrier (F)
Laundry Lane

(16th June)
West High Down

(24th June)
Spotted Flycatcher
Appley, Ryde

22nd June
Sedge Warbler

(25th April)
Red Legged Partridge
Brighstone Down

(21st May)
Little Gull

(25th April)

(25th April)
Little Gull

(15th April)
Meditteranean Gull

(26th March)
Tennyson Down

(23rd March)
West High Down

(23rd March)
Marsh Harrier
Laundry Lane

(23rd Feb)
Cassy Bridge

(21st Feb)
Tennyson Down

(19th Feb)

(18th Feb)
Bembridge Ponds

(22nd Jan)
Bean Goose
Shepherds Trail

(21st Jan)
Cassey Bridge

(21st Jan)
Slavonian Grebe
Merstone Ponds

(20th Jan)
Mandarin Duck
(Carisbrooke Pond 3/1/02)
Velvet Scoter (F)
(off Seaview 27/12/01)

Birds from 2001

Red Necked Grebe
off Shanklin 30/12/01
White Fronted Geese
Perowne Way,
Sandown 22/12/01
Culver 27/8/01
Bembridge Harbour 29/8/01
Hoopoe - Mottistone 25/8/01 SongThrush-Shide FP 4/7/01
West High Do. 12/7/01
Dartford Warbler
Brighstone Down 7/01
Stock Dove-Ryde Canoe Lake 6/01 Cuckoo-Laundry Lane 6/01
Black Tailed Godwit-Dodnor 21/4/01 White Wagtail-Werrar, Medina Esty. 21/4/01
Raven 1, GoreCliff-Blackgang 20/4/01 Raven 2, GoreCliff-Blackgang 20/4/01
Purple Sandpipers,-Foreland 4/01. Purple Sandpiper,-Foreland 4/01.
Garganey 1.
-Laundry Lane 30/3/01
Garganey 2.
-Laundry Lane 30/3/01
Gadwall(Pair)-Yarmouth 27/3/01 Gadwall(M)-Yarmouth 27/3/01
Spotted Redshank-Yarmouth 20/2/01 Common Gull-Ryde 27/2/01

Birds from 2000

Sanderling Ryde 29/12/00 Ringed Plover-Ryde 29/12/00
Kittiwake following Ferry-27/12/00 Shag,injured?-St Helens Mill 19/12/00
Pintail-Ryde Canoe Lake (Escape?) 21/12/00 Little Egret and Greenshank-NNR 20/11/00
Tree Creeper-Walters Copse 20/12/00 Tree Creeper-Walters Copse 20/12/00
Ruddy Ducks-Yarmouth Station 20/11/00 Shelduck-Culver 09/05/00
Juvenile Marsh Harrier-Blue wing tag (Laundry Lane 24/9/00) Wheatear-Culver Down (24/9/00)
Pale Phase Buzzard 1.
Brading Marsh(12/9/00)
Pale Phase Buzzard 2.
Brading Marsh(12/9/00)
Honey Buzzard,Ventnor Downs-fleeting glimpse!(11/9) Osprey Firestone/Wootton Creek 13/9.
Montagu's Harrier(Juv)1-Ventnor Downs(28/8) Montagu's Harrier(Juv)2-Ventnor Downs(28/8)
Garden Warbler, Shide FP(8/5/00) Wheatear(Culver Cliffs)25/3/00
Short Eared Owl
(Laundry Lane)21/1/00
Short Eared Owl -again! (Laundry Lane)24/02/01
Crossbill (Firestone 15/1/00) Scaup off Ryde Marina 16/1/00
Common Scoter-off Puckpool 21/1/00 Bean Geese
(Laundry Lane 19/1/00)
Razorbill-Puckpool Beach 19/1/00 Hen Harrier(Laundry Lane 11/99)

Birds from 1999

Black Tern (NNR) Dunlin 27/12/99 NNR
Spoonbill(Bem ponds) Shorelark(Afton Down)
Woodchat Shrike (Foreland 4/99) Nightjar (Mottistone 6/99)
Yellow Hammers, Newtown Stonechat (SCP)
Little Egret(Bem Ponds) Kingfisher (Bembridge 10/99)

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