Bempton Cliffs – 18 Jun 2016

Wow – what a day! Helen and I went to Bempton Cliffs today and we got some great pics between us.

Bempton Cliffs

The Rugged Bempton Cliffs looking South towards Flamborough Head

We’d begun the day by looking at the weather forecast for several of our favourite reserves. As Bempton was the only one that was promised good weather today that was where we decided to go. As it turned out it was a bit breezy atop the cliffs, but then it almost always is at Bempton! This didn’t cause us much concern, however, and actually helped because it meant many of the seabirds we had gone to photograph were struggling to make headway flying into the wind, and it’s obviously much easier to take pictures of birds that are nearly static!

By the time we arrived around 1pm the reserve was bustling with visitors. On busy days like today, volunteers with walkie-talkies man the car-park, and guide drivers to spaces. A nice lady very helpfully pointed us in the direction of the only remaining space in the main parking area! (There is, however, a large overflow car-park in a field adjacent to the site which is regularly in use during the Summer months).

Looking back through my blog posts I note that our last visit to Bempton was on a bitterly cold day back in March (the 20th). Today was a much more pleasant experience, not only because it was much warmer, but also because there were far, far more birds present today with it currently being the height of the breeding season.

At the bottom of the path that leads down to the cliffs from the Visitor’s Centre, we chose to turn right today and head down towards Roll-Up and the Staple Neuk observation points.

All along the cliffs, as is usual during the breeding season at Bempton, there were tens of thousands of seabirds. The Gannets look awesome, flying really close to the edge of the cliffs and only a few short feet away from us. With their two metre wingspans they are fantastic to watch as they zoom back and forth riding the thermals; they are truly huge birds! Helen and I always find it hard to stop snapping away at them whenever we visit Bempton. We always come home with literally hundreds of Gannet pictures to sort out!

There were all the other usual seabirds in evidence today as well: Kittiwakes, Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots, along with smaller numbers of Herring Gulls, Rock Doves and Jackdaws. In the shrubbery bordering the path we also spied several Pied Wagtails and a lovely Meadow Pipit today.

In addition to all the seabirds we saw, we also had good sightings of a couple of rather unexpected birds along the cliffs today: a Kestrel and a Barn Owl. There is an owl box a couple of hundred yards from the Visitor’s Centre, and this was obviously in use by the owl we watched quartering the fields nearby. We observed the bird for a good twenty minutes during which time we were able to get a number of good photographs, including some with the sea in the background, which seems a bit unusual in itself.

Bempton is a fabulous (if stinky!!) reserve to visit. I’m already looking forward to my next visit there.

About Alan Gordon

I am a retired teacher and former RAF Musician. I live near Sheffield and enjoy taking photographs of wild birds throughout the UK.
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