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Population eggs-plosion at RSPB Bempton Cliffs

Last modified: 23 April 2013

Gannets with 'necklace'

Peckster and Flip have once again delivered the first egg of the season!

Image: Yorkshire Coast Nature

The 200,000 seabirds that flock to RSPB Bempton Cliffs every year have started returning to nest on the 400 feet high chalk cliffs between Bridlington and Filey.

One of the early arrivals is a pair of gannets, known as Peckster and Flip, who have the honour once again of delivering the first egg of the season. Mum and Dad will now incubate the egg for almost a month and a half before welcoming their fledgling into the world. 

RSPB volunteer, Allan Dawson, said: “Our records show that their egg has been laid exactly three weeks later to the day than last year.   It has been a slow start to the breeding season overall and there’s little doubt that the recent spate of very easterly storms have had something to do with this.”

The gannet colony, the largest on UK mainland, has seen strong growth over the past few years.  Numbers in 2012 topped 22,000 breeding individuals, with many more gannets yet to reach maturity. 

And the cliffs are obviously a very ‘des res’ for these spectacular seabirds: a gannet satellite tagging programme last year showed one bird had flown all the way from Jersey - some 400 plus miles.

Keith Clarkson, RSPB Bempton Cliffs site manager, said: “The success of the gannet colony here is testament to the hard work the RSPB undertakes to protect Britain’s seabirds.  As Bempton Cliffs is both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area, the birds are safeguarded on the cliffs but out at sea, there is little or no protection. 

“We are putting real effort into drawing attention to risks such as climate change and industrial fishing.  And we are also campaigning hard to get the Government to designate Marine Protected Areas along our coast before it’s too late. Our hope is that this will help secure the long-term future of not only our gannets but all seabirds.”

For more information on the RSPB’s marine campaign, visit www.rspb.org.uk/marine. For further information on Bempton Cliffs, visit www.rspb.org.uk/bemptoncliffs.

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