We’ve all been driving in the car and pointing out of the window when we’ve seen a kestrel hovering over the road or stopping to take a picture on a walk of a beautiful butterfly. During the summer months, the Island is bursting with colour and the skies are filled with the sounds of skylarks, but what else can you see and hear on your travels…
Now a regular visitor to our shores, head to The Needles or Ventnor to see pods of dolphins leaping over waves and playing in the surf. Another aquatic friend that is popping up is the common seal. Regularly seen at Cowes and also Newtown Creek, watch these cute creatures bask on the banks, soaking up the sun.
If you are visiting from the city you are probably no stranger to foxes, but what about badgers? The Island has a healthy population of these monochrome mammals.The young, born around February, are venturing out and can be seen playing in fields, back gardens and even roads in the more rural parts of the Island.
When you come to the Isle of Wight we know what mammal you want to see… the red squirrel. This cheeky, tufty animal can be seen all over the Island, lovers of woodland great spots to see them are Parkhurst and Brighstone Forest.
No strangers to BBC Springwatch, swallows are here in abundance during the summer. You’ll see them swooping over fields catching bugs and picking up caterpillars to return with full beaks to feed their young.
Wander through the Parkhurst Forest where – if you’re lucky – you may see a nightjar or long-eared owl.
With the seas bursting with shoals of fish the sea birds begin to return in June. Head to St Catherine’s at the very southern tip of the Island to catch a glimpse of gannets and shearwaters. Where at The Needles, if you take the chartered boat you may be lucky enough to see guillemots and razorbills.
Towards the end of the summer season many migrant birds pass over including osprey’s on their way back to Africa. A frequent visitor of Newtown Creek, these magnificent birds of prey stock up before the long journey home. Late August cliff walks along Ventnor Downs and Culver are rewarded with sites spotted and pied flycatchers as well as ring ouzels.
Most likely the only place in Britain where you can see the Glanville fritillary butterfly. This delicate orange and brown butterfly can be found on coastal walks dancing over grassland and also the south facing chalk downs of the Island.
The fields are as blue as the sky as you walk along places such as the Tennyson Trail or Bonchurch, they are filled with blue butterflies. More commonly seen is the paler chalkhill blue, seen flying in the same fields as the more vibrant adonis.
As you walk through the pretty woodlands, with the sun streaming through the trees you’ll see firm family favourites such red admirals and peacock butterflies basking in the light or flitting through the leaves. Keep eyes peeled for other species such as the white admiral and purple hairstreak – often found around oak trees.
Not just brown boring jobbies that annoy you by hitting the light bulb at night, moths can actually be as pretty as butterflies and as they require more specialist environments to live in are a great indicator of the local ecosystem.
One of the more common moths, the elephant hawk moth is usually seen around gardens as dusk becomes night. They are a glorious mix of gold and pink, which is unmistakable for any other moth.
Hummingbird hawk moths feed just like their bird name sake. Using a long tongue they hover over tubular shaped garden flowers just before dusk. So why not grab a glass of wine, sit in the garden and wee if you can spot one.
Declining over the past 40 years you may be lucky enough to see tiger moth on the chalky downs of the Island. Beautifully marked black and white forewings give way to a flash of brightly coloured hindwings. They can be seen popping from plant to plant on warm summer days.
During the summer it’s like a flower bomb has been released. The blossom may have left the trees and the bluebells have gone over but there is still much to see. Road sides are pretty in pink with campion and fields are dotted with daisies. For one of the prettiest wildflower fields on the Island a visit to The Garlic Farm should be on your list. Buzzing with bees and butterflies, it looks like a quintessential English country garden.
When wandering some of the cliff paths between June and September you’ll find rock samphire growing, a salty succulent is most commonly used on the Isle of Wight by the Isle of Wight Distillery.
There are also a few rare plants native to the Isle of Wight, one being field cow-wheat. The colloquial name is ‘poverty weed’ as when the seeds were mixed with corn during harvesting, it gave the flour a bad taste, therefore devaluing the product. Flowering between June and September, bumblebees love this colourful plant with its spiky petals which are a purplish-pink in colour with a hint of yellow at the base.