Trip reports

Field Trip - Flamborough Head and RSPB Bempton

Gannet with chick at nest, Bass Rock

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Having had a dreadful weather over the previous few weeks, we were really hoping that for the trip it would be better and, fortunately, it was. The day was warm and sunny with just one short shower in the afternoon. Our luck was highlighted by the fact that it started to pour just as we had boarded the coach and set off for home!

Arriving at Flamborough, most of the group - as on previous occasions - headed for the café and refreshments. The group then split up - with some deciding to explore the area around Flamborough Head and others to walk along the cliff tops to North Landing. A few energetic people even walked all the way to Bempton!

As usual, the star attraction was the cliff-nesting birds. Great views were obtained of Puffins as well as of the numerous Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills. Birds flying along the edge of the cliffs included Fulmar, with Gannet, Shag and Cormorant seen further out at sea - along with huge numbers of passing Guillemot and Razorbill. Oystercatcher were seen along the shore with Common Scoter on the sea.

The rough grassland and other habitats along the cliff tops yielded Meadow and Rock Pipits, Collared Dove, Wren, Skylark, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Linnet and Yellowhammer. Swifts, Swallows and House Martin were swooping overhead, especially around Flamborough Head itself. A quick look at pools at Northcliff Marsh and Thornwick added Sand Martin, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot and White Wagtail to the day's bird list.

In the afternoon, we caught the coach for the short journey to RSPB Bempton Cliffs. Not surprisingly, we found it to be very busy - with the first real day of good weather for weeks having attracted many visitors. As at Flamborough, huge numbers of Guillemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes were nesting. Many were sitting on eggs, though some young Kittiwakes and Guillemots were also seen being fed by their parents. Large numbers of non-breeding Gannets were also present at the north-eastern end of the reserve and we had great fun photographing these and using the nearby interpretation board to determine their ages from the patterns of black and white on their plumage.

Although of course renowned for its cliff nesting birds, Bempton's land birds should never be overlooked. Many minutes were spent watching a lovely Barn Owl hunting for prey before it finally disappeared over a hill. On one of the concrete posts left over from the old RAF radar station, prolonged views were obtained of a singing Corn Bunting. Nearer the Visitor Centre, Kestrel, Tree and House Sparrows and a Whitethroat were all seen.

Amongst non-bird species seen were Grey Seal, as well as a selection of butterflies including Red Admiral, Orange-tip and numerous Painted Ladies. Plants seen included Northern Marsh Orchid.

33 people attended
54 bird species seen