GLORIOUS GANNETS @ RSPB BEMPTON CLIFFS
On Thursday I visited RSPB Bempton Cliffs which is located a few miles north of Bridlington on the east coast of Yorkshire. The reserve is best known for its breeding seabirds such as Gannets, Puffins, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Guillemots. The cliffs are chalk cliffs and they are fairly resistant to erosion and this six mile stretch of cliff is over three hundred feet in height.
It was a bright but windy morning when I arrived at Bempton Cliffs and I spotted a Song Thrush briefly sat on a wooden fence before I made my way down towards the visitor centre. In the entrance to the visitor centre, lodged up at the top of the wall, was a Swallows nest with five juveniles peeping out of it. Thirty seconds later juveniles started chirping as one of the adults flew in and fed them and not long after in came the other adult.
At the other side of the visitor centre there were several Jackdaws hanging around the picnic tables hoping to pick up scraps dropped by visitors. There were also several Tree Sparrows going to and from nests hidden in the visitor centre roof. I now walked down some steps and headed across a grass path towards the first viewpoint which is called Mosey Downgate Viewpoint.
From here I saw Gannets, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Guillemots flying to and from the cliffs as well as a few Puffins swooping down towards the sea. More Jackdaws were flying overhead and on the grass path behind me was a Pied Wagtail but it flew off before I could get a picture. I now made my way along the path towards the next viewpoint and on amongst the grass there were a couple of Gannets which still seemed to be gathering nesting material. A little further along, just before I reached the next viewpoint I spotted a Gannet sat on a nest at the cliff edge.
I finally reached the next viewpoint which is called Bartlett Nab Viewpoint where again I saw more Gannets, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and a few Puffins. I continued on along the path as the wind got even stronger and just before I reached the final viewpoint in this direction I saw several Gannets using the wind to hover over the cliffs edge. I watched Gannet after Gannet do this as they either came into land or take off from the cliff.
A little further along is the Jubilee Corner Viewpoint and looking northwards along the cliff face I saw several Puffins struggling through the wind down to the water and back. There were also several more Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Gannets and Guillemots, but it wasn't easy to get any photos as the wind was very strong and blustery. I now made may way back along the path, past the Bartlett Nab and Mosey Downgate viewpoints where I saw a Puffin perched on the cliff face just below the camera which is linked to a screen in the visitor centre.
Before I returned to the visitor centre for lunch I visited the Grandstand Viewpoint where I saw several Puffins perched on the cliff with one even hiding amongst the Daisies growing on the cliff face. I returned to the visitor centre where the Jackdaws were still in large numbers amongst the picnic tables looking for food. After lunch I headed back down the path to the Grandstand Viewpoint which was still busy and this time I turned right and headed south along the clifftop path.
As I walked towards the next viewpoint I saw more Gannets and Kittiwakes flying along the cliffface with some Gannets hovering before landing. As I reached the New Roll-Up Viewpoint I saw several Gannets sat on the grass at the tops of the cliff with one pair performing their customary courtship ritual which they perform every time one of them returns.
I moved on and followed the path and to my right I could hear, but not see, a few Skylarks singing away. Over to my left I saw a large group of Gannets sat on the grass at the top of the cliffs and again they were hovering in the wind before they came into land. I finally reached the southernmost viewpoint which is called the Staple Newk Viewpoint as it overlooks the distinctive Staple Newk rock formation which juts out in to the sea and is awash with hundreds of Gannets as well as a few Puffins and Kittiwakes.
I started to make my way back along the path and as the path rose up a Jackdaw landed on a fence post and posed for a few photos. I continued on and reached the point where I had seen a large number of Gannets and a pair of them were again performing their courtship routine. After a brief visit to the New Roll-Up Viewpoint I saw another Jackdaw perched on a fence partially covered in lichen. I made another visit to the Mosey Downgate Viewpoint where at the southern side there was a trio of Puffins sat on the cliffs edge hiding amongst the flowers.
From here I decided to take a different route back to the visitor centre and headed along the Nature Trail which takes you along a hedgerow and into the bushes near the top of the grassland meadow. As I walked along the side of the hedgerow I saw Linnets and Whitethroats singing from the top of the hedge. As I was walking up this path a Swallow zoomed low along the path passing within inches of me and only a foot or so off the ground.
The Swallow repeated this a couple of times before rising up and heading towards the visitor centre. The path now turned into the bushes and as I reached the top of the grassland meadow I saw another Whitethroat perched on a bramble bush at the top of the field to my right. The path now turned left and headed towards the visitor centre and a little further along the Swallow returned and again flew low along the path right past me.
I now made my way through the visitor centre and at the entrance the juvenile Swallows were still in the nest although one was a little smaller and was having to fight to be heard or seen. The adult Swallows made several visits whilst I was watching and after a few minutes I made my way to the Wildlife Garden where there are some feeders. There were several Jackdaws ransacking the feeders as a few Tree Sparrows tried to feed but were warned off by the Jackdaws as a couple of Swifts flew overhead.
I have attached a few pictures and a full sightings list from my visit to RSPB Bempton Cliffs