The Isle of Wight’s climate and physical makeup makes it the perfect place to do a spot of wildlife watching. The island is home to over 200 species of birds, and with plenty of areas of water (lakes, rivers, creeks and of course, the sea) it’s a great place to spot wading birds, ducks and waterfowl. You’ll also find 43 of the UK’s 61 butterfly species, as well as plenty of exciting plants, insects and of course; red squirrels. No matter what kind of wildlife and nature you enjoy, there is sure to be somewhere you’ll enjoy in our list below.
The Medina Estuary
The River Medina is a hotbed for local wildlife. Many birds can be seen here, from little egrets, grey herons and curlews. You’ll also be able to spot red squirrels along the way. The estuary itself lies within a valley, and is bordered by mudflats and some areas of saltmarsh as well, which are vital to the ecosystem of the area. The saltmarsh areas provide a vital place for young birds to shelter in the summer, as well as a place to thrive for rare and vulnerable plant species.
The remnants of the ancient woodland which used to cover most of the eastern side of the island, Borthwood Copse is one of the best places on the island to observe a huge range of wildlife. Covered in bluebells and other beautiful wildflowers during the spring, the trees take over the light come summer. And, once summer is over, the stunning colours of the changing trees becomes the view. Make the trip here for the chance to see all kinds of animals; dormice, bats and butterflies, as well as (of course!) the red squirrel.
Newton Nature Reserve
The only national nature reserve on the island, you can easily spend many hours exploring the ins and outs of the reserve. The medieval woodland features rare butterflies, red squirrels and plenty of different flowers and trees. You can also spot beautiful meadows of wildflowers and explore the numerous walking and flat, peaceful cycling tracks around the reserve. There’s a pond for spotting dragonflies, and three bird hides as well, where you’ll find volunteers ready to answer your questions.
St Helens Duver shoreline
The shoreline of the Duver attracts lots of different types of wildlife, and offers a different experience to the more woodland and river habitats above. The fine sands are perfect for rock pools, in which you can find whelks, limpets and periwinkles. You might also be able to spot small fish such as Guppies or Blennies, and there has even been the occasional seahorse, small lobster and shrimp spotted! You’re also likely to find various kinds of crabs such as hermit crabs, porcelain crabs and shore crabs. There is also a plethora of insect life to be seen, from bees, wasps and spiders to grasshoppers and crickets.
The gardens of Mottistone Estate are absolutely stunning, with a large amount of varied plants including Mexican fleabane and rose bushes. The plants are much loved by bees and butterflies alike. The common is home to many species of birds including the nocturnal nightjars, which may be spotted in the highest areas and in the right conditions (they like hot weather.) You might also spot buzzards and ravens. The churchyard is home to beautiful wildflowers in the summer, and there are many types of birds such as bluetits, wrens, great tits and robins.