I think many of us imagine or dream of flying at some point in our lives. Soaring high and low, above land and out to sea. For me, nowhere has this dream been more strongly felt than at RSPB Bempton Cliffs in the East Riding of Yorkshire. 100,000s of seabirds come here every year to breed, creating a true UK wildlife spectacle, so I felt that this year I had to see it for myself.
There are some serious views at RSPB Bempton Cliffs (Photo: Jack Plumb)
My visit to Bempton wasn’t entirely spontaneous, as I’ve wanted to visit York for its history for a number of years. But once I got wind of 12-year-old Joe Fryer's albatross sighting it sealed the deal and I booked a B’n’B for a cheeky weekend away. Of course the albatross wasn’t the only reason to go. I hadn’t seen a puffin since I was about 7 or 8, and a couple of the other seabirds that make Bempton their nesting site of choice would also be new to me.
A gathering of gannets (Photo: Jack Plumb)
As soon as I stepped out of the car I could hear and see seabirds. The numbers are simply gobsmacking! Picking out anything to begin with was tricky, but once I had my eye in (years of Where’s Wally? books helped enormously), I was able to pick out some gems. The puffins weren’t so active, but they were there. Shags flying back and forth from the shore below were a nice treat, and huge numbers of huge gannets was always going to be spectacular.
Spot the puffin - apparently they were more active in the rain the day before (Photo: Jack Plumb)
RSPB Bempton Cliffs is pitched as the best place in the UK to see, hear and smell seabirds. I can’t imagine a place where there’s more wildlife activity, concentrated into an easy to access space, with all the comfort and convenience of a great café and visitor centre. To top it off, the staff and volunteers were beaming with Yorkshire friendliness whether they were making coffee or helping people spot puffins at one of the six viewing platforms that look over the cliffs.
RSPB Bempton Cliffs is sure to wow the young'uns, so bring your pufflings along (Photo: Jack Plumb)
I’ve been fascinated by albatrosses since I was a child. I think most children who have an interest in birds now, or adults who did in the past, have thought that albatrosses are pretty incredible. I had really hoped I’d finally see one, and in the UK, but it wasn’t to be. If I’m completely honest, I had become so engrossed with the cacophony of sound and visual spectacle of RSPB Bempton Cliffs, I’d forgotten all about the albatross. Plus, I don’t think I’d need an excuse like that to visit again – the place is more than enough on its own merit.