Downland specialists, plus very extensive views
CHALK DOWNLAND ISN’T too common is it? Over on the Isle of Wight there exist some relatively unspoilt sections, with Culver Cliff on the east and the Needles in the west being as iconic as those cliffs at Dover! An early morning stroll here is best all year and there’s an excellent chance of seeing Dartford Warblers here – it’s also an excellent raptor watchpoint. From the car park, the vista north and north-east picks up Culver Cliff, a dramatic white promontory, the Solent, Hayling Island and many a point in between. Indeed, as you scan this, you’ll undoubtedly add a soaring Buzzard or a Kestrel (right) to your list for the day. Switch your position 90° to the left and the view changes to encompass St Catherine’s Down with its ancient lighthouse, and beyond more chalk cliffs. Behind you, of course, flows the English Channel and Gannets and Great Black-backed Gulls can be picked up as you admire the view. Once, doing just this in spring, I found a Honey Buzzard. Tree Pipits are regular in spring, while Hobby occurs in both passage seasons. Wheatears love the paths and Wryneck and Hoopoe have occurred, too, so there should be plenty to enjoy here.