There’s nothing we like better than making a new discovery on the reserve.   In this case, our new discovery dated from 1949 – a ten page booklet titled ‘The Palatability of the Eggs of Birds’, signed by the author Hugh B Cott.

Hugh was a Cambridge oologist (another discovery…it means someone who studies bird eggs) and he carried out an investigation into the differing tastes of the eggs of 123 species. Each had their eggs scrambled, eaten and rated on a scale of 2 (inedible) to 10 (ideal).

Volunteer Allan Dawson was given the pamphlet by 97 year old Eileen Petty, the widow of climmer, Jack Petty. Unusually, Jack wasn’t a local lad, he lived in Hull and worked as an architect for the council. He was also a talented musician playing violin in the Hull Philharmonic.

So how did someone from the city end up climbing the cliffs for seabird eggs? Jack came from a relatively wealthy family and his parents were fond of taking cruises.   When they went off to sunnier climes, Jack stayed with his grand-parents in Bempton and became fascinated by the climmers, one of whom took him under his wing and, literally, taught him the ropes.

Collecting seabird eggs became illegal in the 1950’s but there are still folk in the village who were brought up on them and remember their unique flavour.  

And if you’re dying to know which eggs came out best in the taste tests well, kittiwakes scored highly with an 8.2. Barn Owl and Little Bittern eggs also did well and were described as ‘as sweet and mild as cream’.   Just don’t tell Heston Blumenthal.