Trip reports

Bempton Cliffs

Bempton Cliffs
Paul Barrett

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Avoiding the Royal Wedding and the FA Cup final, the Airedale and Bradford RSPB Local Group took a trip to the seaside! More specifically to the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs.
Experience has taught us that staying together in a large group does not make for good birding. So, upon our arrival at the reserve, we dispersed to the four corners of the site.
Not surprisingly, due to the cold damp early spring, the seabirds seemed to be running late: many of the gannets were still collecting nesting material and few birds appeared to be particularly settled. The few puffins we saw were standing around waiting for a mate to appear. The guillemots and razorbills had found perches (in various degrees of precariousness) and appeared more settled - whether they were on eggs was difficult to ascertain. Thousands of kittiwakes dominated the soundscape with their familiar call. A small number of fulmars swooped around the viewing area at the south end of the reserve.
Huge numbers of birds were seen gathered in flocks on the surface of the sea and the gannets were seen flying in formation although, sadly, we did not witness their spectacular diving displays.
Between the cliff tops and the visitor centre, a nature trail has been established and many of the group were able to get close-up views of linnet and whitethroat. Swallows and sparrows have taken up residence in the centre.
It was the group's first visit to the reserve since the refurbishments. The visitors' centre was a huge improvement an the previous facilities, not least in that it provided food and drink (a vital ingredient for our group!). There were plenty of staff and volunteers to help us on our way, both at the centre and on the various viewing platforms along the top of the cliffs. However (despite events elsewhere) there were a large number of visitors at the site which, on occasions, made viewing a little difficult.
The sun shone throughout the day and the broad smiles on everyone's faces as we climbed aboard the coach was testament to how much we all enjoyed our spectacular day at Bempton Cliffs.