Monthly Archives: June 2009

Bempton Cliffs (RSPB)

A birding year is not complete without a visit to Bempton Cliffs. This is an RSPB reserve on the East Yorkshire coast near Bridlington. The 400 foot limestone cliffs provide a nesting site for thousands of sea birds. This reserve hosts the largest mainland colony of Gannets in Britain.

Beautiful creatures Gannets. April/May time sees them refurbishing their nests or making new ones. They join together on the cliff tops, fulling out the grass tufts, whilst at the same time performing breeding displays.

Catch it right with a blue sky and a strong offshore wind and you can get really close to them as they soar over the cliffs.

They have this remarkable beauty, gorgeous white feathers, a smoky brown head and the strangest of eyes.

There are of course other birds at Bempton. There are a small number of Puffins (numbers declining each year) – they are difficult to spot, but are usually visible lower down on the cliff face.

There are Fulmars, an Albatross-like bird, a member of the same tube-nose family, who soar effortlessly on long flat wings.

There are Guillemots and Razorbills and also marauding Herring Gulls. They regularly take young chicks. Here, a Herring Gull takes a Kittiwake chick.

Razorbills fly very fast and it takes some luck as well as judgement, to get them in flight.

Guillemots are always found perching on the cliff edges. Sometimes the “Bridled” form can be seen, which has a white eye-stripe.

Of course the noise most people remember from Bempton, aside from the smell [yes, it does smell – a lot], is that of the kittiwake. “Kittiwakekittiwakekittiwake” they cry – some say it is the sound of lost souls from the sea – it is eerie, that’s for sure.

Masters of the air also, Kittwakes hover on the updraft, before coming to rest on their precarious perches.

Hope this gives you a taster for a visit to Bempton. If you get chance it’s certainly worth it.

I can recommend staying at the Marton Grange Bed and Breakfast, 3 miles from the reserve and eating out is good at the Sea Birds and the North Star in Flamborough.

If you want to see more images from Bempton, then view my image galleries.

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