The Isle of Wight is important for birds, both for those species which breed here and the migratory birds passing through.
The Islandís geographical location off the south coast of England and the range of habitats there accounts for the variety of birds which are found in its relatively small area. It is one of the landfalls for migrating birds, and rarities often turn up in coastal scrub. Peregrines, ravens, fulmars, cormorants, great black-backed gulls, and guillemots nest on the seacliffs at West High Down, Gore Cliff and Culver Down. In winter Ryde Sands are a good place to see sanderling and bar-tailed godwit. Offshore, sea ducks such as red-breasted mergansers and great crested grebes may be seen.
The estuaries along the northern shores are part of the larger Solent estuarine ecosystem, an internationally important area for wintering waterfowl. The area is an important stop-over for wading birds and terns on the Eastern Atlantic Flyway, the migratory route links the west coast of Africa with Western Europe and the Arctic Circle. In the winter, the Islandís estuaries support flocks of wading birds such as black-tailed godwit, curlew and dunlin, and wildfowl including wigeon, teal and dark-bellied brent geese. Year-round residents of the estuaries include mute swans and little egrets.
Like the rest of south-east England, there has been a decline in farmland birds, but there are some areas of mixed farming where flocks of linnets and yellowhammers overwinter on stubble and field margins. A small population of corn buntings breed on farmland near the south west coast. Heathland supports small breeding populations of Dartford warblers.
The Island is a stronghold for barn owls and little owls. There is a small breeding population of long-eared owls in the larger woods, which also support breeding nightjars. Tawny owls, nuthatches and common redstart are notably absent from Island woods although they are common on the other side of the Solent.
Take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch; it'ss simple and fun. All you need to do is watch your garden or local park during the last weekend in January. Siimply spend an hour counting the birds, recording the highest number of each species seen in your garden (not flying over) at any one time. Find out more Big Garden Bird Watch.