On June 8th, we made our second visit this year to the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs, near Bridlington in East Yorkshire, where 200,000 seabirds return each year between March and September to breed.
Our visit at the start of May was our first encounter with Britain’s largest seabird, the Gannet, what a surprise, they are truly spectacular and really quite beautiful with stunning markings and a wingspan up to 180cms. We were told Bempton have 11,000! The reserve has several viewing platforms safely perched at the top of the cliffs, making viewing surprisingly easy. Watching was hypnotic and we spent most of the day there with our youngest daughter, taking a break from uni revision. We saw just one Puffin in May, far out at sea, spotted by an experienced bird watcher who let us view through his scope, at 30 cms tall they are tiny in comparison to Gannets. Later a juvenile Arctic Skua was spotted eating carrion and apparently its very unusual to be seen at Bempton and again we were excitedly asked to look through other bird watchers scopes.
The volunteers and staff were really helpful and willingly gave lots of information, we were so taken with the Gannets and Bempton we decided to go back again.
We booked onto a 3 hour RSPB boat trip, to view the spectacular 400 foot chalk cliffs and seabirds from a different perspective.
The Boat sails from Bridlington North pier and is accompanied by volunteers from the East Yorkshire local group, who cheerfully answered endless questions and gave a highly informative commentary throughout the trip.
Our first stop before the boat trip was a return visit to Bempton Cliffs, in May the wildflowers held back by the very late arrival of Spring this year, in June the fields of Red Campion (Silene dioica) were quite simply, wow!
The Yorkshire Belle sailed at 5p.m, the sea was thankfully calm and the views of the chalk cliffs and the nesting seabirds were pretty spectacular from sea level. Gannets, Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes could be seen from the cliffs and from the boat. Lots of Puffins too this time at sea.
Look closely at the photo below, there are seabirds nesting from the top to just above the eroded arches.
The RSPB reserve at Bempton is open at all times. From March to October the visitor centre is open daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm and from November to February 9.30 to 4p.m.