Isle of Wight & Dorset Spring Wildlife Break

Thursday 23rd – Monday 27th May 2024

This weekend has been designed to showcase the best of the amazing and diverse variety of wildlife that occurs on the south coast of the UK.

From the rare Glanville & Marsh Fritillary butterflies through to Dartford Warbler, Northern Goshawk, European Honey Buzzard and Common Redstart to Common Guillemots, Manx Shearwater and Little Terns with the chance of a rarity or two!

Tour Leader: Steve Grimwade
Maximum Group Size: 7

Day 1
Travelling from Essex with possible pickups on route, we head down to Lymington for our 30 minute ferry crossing over to the Isle of Wight. The south coast of the island is home to a population of the rare Glanville Fritillary, named after Lady Eleanor Glanville, a 17th century Lepidopterist who first discovered the species in Lincolnshire. Glanville Fritillaries are sadly now mostly confined to the Isle of Wight and restricted to the southern coastal headlands where they occur in good numbers.

They can be found seeking out Ribwort Plantain as their larval food-plant in which to lay their eggs, as well as the adults feeding on Thrift on the warm, sheltered undercliffs.

Other species of note may include Small Blue, Wall Brown and the rare Cliff Tiger Beetle, the latter can be seen hunting in sheltered areas and is found only on southern slopes in the UK.

We arrive at our hotel in Sandown early evening and settle in before enjoying our evening meal.
Overnight: Newport

Day 2
After a hearty breakfast we spend the morning looking for Red Squirrels and a small nature reserve will offer the chance to have outstanding views of this enigmatic mammal. Red Squirrels are reasonably common on the island and the current estimated population is around 3200 individuals!

As the day warms up we visit a small site where there is a colony of Wall Lizards. Debate persists as to whether this is the northernmost limit of their natural range or if they represent captive animals that have escaped or been reintroduced. However they appeared they are a real treat to see as they bask on the sheltered, sunny walls.

As we head towards the ferry terminal we will keep our eyes peeled for White-tailed Eagle. Persecution led to the eagles being wiped out, with the last known breeding place recorded at Culver Cliff on the Isle of Wight in 1780. In 2019, six young White-tailed Eagles were released on the island with hopes of them establishing as a breeding species once again.

We say our goodbyes to the Isle of Wight and head back onto the mainland to our base on the edge of the New Forest.
Overnight: Near Ringwood

Day 3
Today we spend the morning through to early afternoon in an area of woodland where both European Honey Buzzard and Northern Goshawk breed. From a viewpoint overlooking the forest we will scan for soaring raptors which will also include Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and the occasional Red Kite.

Hawfinch, Common Firecrest, Common Crossbill and Wood Warbler can be seen along the main trails and rides and butterflies include Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Late afternoon we will visit a site that holds breeding Woodlark and Common Firecrest amongst many others. Fallow Deer are incredibly photogenic and the large pines attract Common Crossbill and Eurasian Siskin.
Overnight: Weymouth

Day 4
After breakfast we head to the well-known migration hotspot of Portland Bill. Scarcities may include species such as Woodchat Shrike, European Serin, Red-rumped Swallow, Eurasian Hoopoe or maybe Collared Flycatcher, as we have seen the last two species during previous tours to the area.

With a supporting cast of Whinchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Common Redstart and Wheatear it is sure to be a great visit!

Seabirds will be nesting on the cliffs including Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Northern Fulmar, European Shag and Black-legged Kittiwake and we hope our visit coincides with a passage of Manx Shearwater, so fingers crossed for south-easterly winds!

Raptors such as Montagu’s Harrier, Osprey and Hobby are annual visitors through the Portland area.
Overnight: Weymouth

Day 5
After a good night’s rest we may return to Portland to look for migrants and visit the famous Portland Bill Bird Observatory or perhaps find some good birding sites nearby, such as Radipole Lake or Lodmoor RSPB reserves. On previous tours we have seen Western Cattle Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black Tern and Mediterranean Gull to name but a few.

Later in the morning we will head to the fantastic reserve at Martin Down which is one of the best sites in the South for Butterflies and Flowers. We will look for Burnt-tip Orchids, Grizzled & Dingy Skippers, Adonis Blue, Marsh Fritillary, Small Blue and lots more and is a great place to conclude our tour.

Tour includes
Full board accommodation for 4 nights
All ground transport
Full guiding throughout

Not included
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on Day 1

Relaxed, two to three miles walking per day

Expect between 110 and 125 species

Tour Price: £1200

Single Supplement: £120

Deposit: £250


Post navigation

Tags: , , , , , ,