Spring wildlife on the Isle of Wight

Now the chill of winter has passed, the first green shoots are pushing their way up from the soil, and little buds are bursting into bloom. In the lanes and meadows that we care for, butterflies are starting to emerge from their winter pupation, whist in the skies above, birds fly back and forth gathering nesting materials. Just like the wildlife, why not head outside and explore the countryside this spring, as the first signs of warmer weather appear? And when you do, you're helping us look after nature for many seasons to come.

Colourful early bloomers

If you head up onto the downs, you may see some of the first flowers to blossom. See if you can spot the bright yellow of primroses and cowslips on Culver and Compton Downs and the Needles Headland, as well as the unique colour of bluebells on both St Catherine’s Down and Luccombe Down.

Bluebells in Shearn Place at Mottistone
Bluebells under a tree trunk in Mottistone Gardens
Bluebells in Shearn Place at Mottistone

Deep in the woods you can see bluebells too. If you visit Borthwood Copse or Mottistone Estate in late April and early May you’ll be greeted by carpets of blue. Whilst you’re in the woods, see if you can spot violets, lesser celandines and wood anemones, which grow in the clearings. And look out for early purple and green winged orchids on the downs and in the wildflower meadows around Newtown too.

Bluebells cover the floor in Borthwood Copse

The best places for bluebells on the Isle of Wight 

The delicate bells of blue that carpet the woods and downs in late April and May are an iconic sign of spring. And on the Island, we have some of the best places to see them. Find out where to take a stroll on a warm spring day to experience this beautiful native flower.

The birds and butterflies

Being such a southerly location means that the Isle of Wight is one of the first places in the UK that migrating birds arrive. Whilst some, such as wheatear and redstart, will fly further north, others will remain here until autumn. The return of blackcaps signals the start of warmer weather, and watch the swallows whirl and swoop overhead as they arrive for the summer.

On a stroll at Newtown, you may be lucky enough to hear the call of cuckoos from the meadows and the song of nightingales. As the sun rises, the air fills with the sound of birds, both native and migratory. 

Whilst you’re at Newtown see if you can spy the newly emerged orange tip butterflies dancing in the lanes. Or in Walter’s Copse look out for the colourful flash of brimstone, peacock and comma which are some of the first butterflies to appear in late spring.

Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly

New arrivals

The Island is home to our flock of around 140 Herbridean sheep. They can be found grazing across our places from high up on the downs at Culver to down on the common at St Helens. We're not lambing this year, but in the fields around Mottistone and Dunsbury, you'll be able to see some of our tenant's baby lambs, and on Ventnor Down you may even be lucky enough to spot goat kids too.

Whether you head to sheltered glades or sunny downland, spring life can be found emerging across the Island. From newly hatched baby birds, to butterflies spreading their wings for the first time, wherever you go exploring you’ll find lots to listen and look for.