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RSPB Bempton Cliffs

On Thursday I spent a few hours with my binoculars and camera at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. As you can imagine I took one or three photos. The cute bird of Bempton Cliffs is the Puffin and several could be seen. Apparently, according to the RSPB Bempton facebook page, there are some Pufflets around, though I didn’t spot any. It’s difficult to tell from photos, but it is quite possible that I have a photo of the crevice that has been said to contain a chick. My photo shows an adult in the recesses – the chick will not have the colourful beak that the adult has during the breeding season.

To me Puffins look a very sad bird. To me they could almost be saying “I’m only a little bird. Please let me lay my eggs in a little hole somewhere.” But I bet they are tough little customers.

Puffin numbers have been declining, possibly due to reduced numbers of Sand Eels near enough for the Puffins to bring back to the nest.

Around the cliffs you can see birds gliding on the up draught, Gannets, Herring Gulls, Kittiwakes, Jackdaws all make it look effortless but when you see Puffins fly their little wings are flapping like mad. They might be very good under water but in the air they seem to have to put a lot of effort into it.

Gannets seem to glide around the cliffs with ease.

The juvenile Gannet is mainly speckled grey/brown in colour but this changes until by year 4 the colouring is more like a piano keyboard. The adult has colour to its head and black wing tips.

The Gannet nest along the ledges of the cliffs with often only enough space between birds so that they can’t quite reach the bird on the next one. If the birds on adjacent nests reached towards each other they could probably clash beaks but they tend to stay put. When the other of the pair comes into land in its clumsy way it will often be shouted at by neighbours.

You can see a tremendous amount of red and blue rope/netting on their nests that has obviously been brought in a nest material.

The tops of the cliffs are grassed and many of the birds can be seen pulling at the grass and taking it to nests – a much more natural material.

Gannet have up to 180cm wingspan and they look great flying around. It is only when they come into land that they look clumsy.

This one looked as though it was going to snap at the insects/flies buzzing around.

Note that there are no nostrils in the beak like other birds. It is assumed that this is stop sea water entering their nostrils as they hit the surface at speed. Their nostrils are inside their mouths.

In the visitor centre a TV is used to display what is going on out on the cliffs and this is one of the cameras used.

It’s difficult to see, but in the photo below I think the Gannet on the right has spotted it.

On the foot of the Gannet in the middle is a newly hatched chick.

And this one, below, was taken a few minutes later. It’s very new.

I have been through the other photos and can’t spot another chick or even an egg.

Even though this pair of Razorbill are in the sea you can still see circles of ripples a long way out from their paddling.

The Razorbills were outnumbered by Guillemots that huddled together. The backs of some of the birds are a bit messy from having birds nesting above them. At least they can fly of and have a wash in the sea.

The Guillemots are in flocks and the second photo shows an egg. Has it been abandoned?

Another bird that is on the cliffs in reasonable numbers is the Kittiwake. You can see several in the wide shot.

Other birds were also using the cliffs. Cormorants, Quite a few Fulmars and Herring Gulls – though I am not good at Gull ID.

In land from the cliffs are fields managed for wildlife. Meadow Pipits are a common bird on Baildon Moor and can be seen in the fields around the visitor centre. Bird boxes have been put up on the visitor centre and are used by Blue Tits. This one looks a bit frayed around the edges. It is obviously working hard to feed its brood. This adult Tree Sparrow conveniently tilted its head to show the brown top. These are now quite rare and people travel to RSPB Bempton to get the Tree Sparrow tick on their lists. We are fortunate in Baildon that we can go up around Glovershaw to get the Tree Sparrow tick.

The views in the area are spectacular with the sea and the cliffs as can be seen below. The Yorkshire Belle does trips from Bridlington to the foot of the cliffs to give you a close up view of some of the birds on the water and the cliffs.

The photos below are to show something of the number of birds milling around the cliffs and areas where grass can be collected for nests.

I will have to have another visit in a week or two to see more of the chicks.





2 responses to “RSPB Bempton Cliffs”

  1. […] You can see other photos from my trip here. […]

  2. Alan Barber Avatar
    Alan Barber

    You clearly know your subject Paul. Lovely shots and very informative.

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