Monday 15 July 2013

A day out at Bempton Cliffs

Taking advantage of the decent weather we've been having, taking a break from organising Wader Quest and taking the opportunity to get someone a tick, Elis and I set off to Bempton Cliffs with Gyorgy (Szimi), Andi and Kea Szimuly. The tick concerned was Puffin for Andi.

Bempton Cliffs
Despite some problems on the M18 on the way up we got there in good time and wandered down towards the cliff. The first thing we came across just outside the reserve shop was a feeder with many Tree Sparrows around it, this was somewhat of a surprise as I wasn't expecting that. There were several birds, some of which were voracious younsters demanding to be fed.

Tree Sparrow.

As we walked further down the path we came across some volunteers working away in the sweltering sun. It turns out they were planting a wild flower meadow in a long strip along the side of the path. For a small donation you can have a flower dedicated to someone, so of course there is now a flower in Yorkshire that will forever be named after David, my recently departed brother.

RSPB volunteer toiling in the mid-day sun.
Once down at the magnificent cliffs, the noise of the seabird colony was filling the air. Cliff colonies are one of the world's greatest wildlife spectacles, and even dedicated wader lovers can enjoy the atmosphere they create.

Part of the seabird colony.
Defitely the predominant species is the Kittiwake. It's distinctive call can be heard constantly as you walk along the clifftop path.



The next most obvious birds are the comparitively huge Gannets that soar along the cliff edge or sit on their precariuous nest ledges.




Among the auks the commonest is the Guillemot, rows and rows of them on the cliffs, a constant stream of them coming and going plus rafts of them loafing on the sea.

Guillemot pair

Guillemot with chick

In among them are Razorbills, more black in colour with their dapper white line along the lores and on the bill these are very smart birds. Interestingly I came to Bempton about a million years ago for the first time. Naturally I wrote down all the birds I saw. Many years later when I was compiling my list for the first time, Razorbill was not on the list for the day. Now it is almost impossible that I didn't see one there and had merely omitted it from the list, but as it was so long ago I decided that I would wait to see another before I ticked it. That day came when I saw a Surf Scoter off the Cornish coast. I got some real ribbing from my fellow twitchers for ticking Surf Scoter and Razorbill in the same scopeful, should have kept my mouth shut!

Razorbill with Kittiwake.
Back to the present. The object of our desires was finally found and Andi got her tick. It doesn't matter how long you have been birding, nor how many times you have seen them, the sight of a Puffin on a cliff top, or anywhere for that matter always makes you smile, this bird is a champion among antidepressants.


Another species of the cliffs is the Fulmar, there were only a few around and it took some time waiting for Elis to snatch even a record shot of one; eventually though we found one on a nest.

Fulmar with Guillemot on the water below.

Fulmar on the nest with Guillemots for neighbours.
Other than Kittiwake there were few gulls around, the only other species we saw was Herring Gull.

Herring Gull with Gannet carrying nesting material.
Then there was this. Pigeons that look like Rock Doves, on the cliffs in a seabird colony, as near as you're going to get to a genuine Rock Dove in England I'd say.

Rock Dove
Small tortoiseshell butterflies have been scarce recently, so it was great to see one on the path.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly.

Bempton Cliffs, a great day out for all the family...

Bempton Cliffs.
even if it isn't your own!

Our company for the day, Andi, Szimi and Kea.
After all this excitment it was down to Bridlington for fish and chips and an icecream! Thought this Herring Gull shot was rather amusing.

Fingers on buzzers please, you're starter for 10...
Perfect end to a perfect day.

Sunset over Milton Keynes.

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