Seabirds and people everywhere

A well-stocked puffin (photo taken 2016)

Having left our overnight stop we headed to the Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve near Bridlington. Part way there I realised that it was a bank holiday Monday: Mostly I don’t really take on board these sorts of holidays, but today it was hard to escape: Bempton was absolutely packed! We were directed to the second overflow car park for the first overflow car park for the main car park….! Luckily Bempton is a large enough area to absorb a lot of visitors and the RSPB staff seemed to be well organised and coping magnificently with the manic influx!

Precariously nesting kittiwakes

A visit to Bempton – something we try to do most years – was always going to be good for my bird list as though there are a limited number of species present in the breeding season they are mostly present in large numbers! Lots of gannets were gliding magnificently over the cliffs. There were guillemots, razorbills and smaller numbers of puffins on every cliff ledge, and wheeling around the skies alongside them were huge numbers of kittiwakes and a reasonable number of fulmars. I was pleased to see that there seems little evidence of bird flu here, but of course only comparison bird survey counts will show the true picture.

A guillemot with its lunch (photo taken 2016)
Some guillemot mutual preening (photo taken 2016)
A wonderfully marked guillemot, known as the bridled form (photo taken 2016)

Whatever the numbers though Bempton is a truly spectacular site at this time of year what with the sheer number of breeding birds fairly, the superb cliff scenery and the excellent wild flower meadows which have been allowed to grow up over the last few years.

A pair of courting gannets

Several pairs of gannets were performing their “signature” courtship routine, all intertwining heads and necks, plus mutual grooming.


I tried – and mostly failed – to get in flight photos of a fulmar!

A fulmar with its distinctive stiff winged flight and tubed nostrils

And I was delighted – only two days after removing this species from my list! – to see several rock doves which definitely really were rock doves and not feral pigeons.

rock dove (also known as rock pigeon) showing distinctive unbroken wing bars and white rump

Brenda writes: “The Airbnb we stayed at had a summerhouse looking across some fields. As I drank my first cup of tea of the day  the view was lovely.

View from our accommodation in Beeford

We’d realised we could run the moth trap and the reward was two new species – heart and dart and small square-spot.

small square-spot

We headed off to Bempton Cliffs RSPB and as we arrived we realised it was a bank holiday and the place was packed. We were still able to get good views of the birds on the cliffs and it was wonderful to see families engaging with nature. The paths down the the cliffs went through a sea of wild flowers. I finally got a good picture of yellow rattle and added a new species, meadow cranesbill, which has a large blue flower.

yellow rattle
meadow cranesbill

I am always amazed that the birds can raise young on such tiny cliff ledges. I love razorbills but it is always a treat to see puffins and I could watch the gannets swooping around for hours. Two other new species were pond water crowfoot which, unlike yesterday’s crowfoot, has its leaves floating on  the surface. Early in the season hogweed and giant hogweed look the same but here the giant was clearly different with a much stouter stem and very tall. It can grow to three metres.

pond water crowfoot
giant hogweed

As we drove further north I noted two new species on the roadside verges, lady’s bedstraw and orange hawkweed.

New species for May 29th:
Birds: fulmar, kittiwake, rock dove, guillemot, puffin
Moths: heart and dart, small square-spot
Flowers: giant hogweed, meadow cranesbill, sea mayweed, pond water crowfoot, lady’s bedstraw, orange hawkweed