Welcome to the RSPB Bempton Cliffs reserve on Flamborough Head, I am Ruth Porter the Seabird Research Officer at this site.
Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs is an amazing site for it’s geology, vegetation and of course it’s wildlife. It is designated as a SSSI, SPA, SAC, Heritage Site and a European Marine Site.
The site is extremely important for seabirds and is home each spring and summer to over 59,000 guillemots, 37,000 pairs of kittiwake, 14,500 razorbills, 6,000 pairs of gannet, 900 puffins, 800 pairs of fulmar and 500 pairs of herring gull.
The season is just getting started and thousands of kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills, are returning to the cliffs, creating an amazing and unique sound and smell! The air is full with seabirds everywhere that you look. If you are lucky you will see a puffin, at this time of year they still spend time at sea before setting up their nests in cracks and crevices in the cliff face.
The gannet colony at Bempton Cliffs is England’s only gannetry and is Britain’s largest mainland nesting site for this species. These stunning birds are the first seabird to start breeding at this site and many of the birds already have eggs.
This season me and a team of keen volunteers will be collecting critical information about how healthy the seabird populations are, how many chicks they are raising and which fish they are bringing in to feed their young and where they are going to feed out at sea. This information is very important and will help to protect seabirds in the future.
Keep on eye on this blog as I will be updating you each week on the seabirds and the work we are doing.
Welcome to the Seabird blog! I am going to be keeping you updated with our seabirds on our Sumburgh Head and Mousa reserves. These reserves are situated at the southern end of the Shetland Isles. Mousa is a small uninhabited island lying across the line of 60 degrees North, famous for its 2,000 year-old broch (an Iron Age stone-built tower).
The seabirds I'll be telling you about that breed on Mousa include great and Arctic skuas, Arctic terns, black guillemots and storm petrels. Sumburgh Head is a headland at the southern tip of mainland Shetland. Our Shetland Office is situated there, in a lighthouse keeper's cottage. It is home to many breeding seabirds, including shags, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars and (the star of the show) puffins.
This time of year is perhaps my favourite, as I get to see old feathered friends returning and have a few surprises too. Guillemots and kittiwakes have been in attendance for a few weeks now. Shags are looking very handsome with their crests and glossy green plumage. Last Wednesday at 5 pm, there were no puffins on the cliffs. However, at 7 pm there were hundreds!
On Sunday, I popped up to Sumburgh Head and found some birdwatchers focusing on the headland to the west of the reserve (Fitful Head, where the Braer ran aground in 1993). To my great surprise, they were watching a white-tailed eagle which had flown north from Fair Isle! I managed to watch it for a minute or two before it disappeared behind a hill. A rather serendipitous moment! I'll tell you more about that individual bird another time.
We had a first trip of the year to Mousa on Easter Monday. On the 10-minute ferry crossing, we saw red-throated divers and black guillemots on the sea. On Mousa, there were already half a dozen great skuas (we call them bonxies in Shetland), though it is still a little early to see their smaller cousin the Arctic skua.Before I go, I better quickly introduce myself. My name is Helen Moncrieff and I am the South Shetland Warden. Our Shetland Team are - Rob Fray (seasonal Assistant Warden), Linda Davis (Field Teacher), Malcie Smith and Martha Devine (North Shetland Wardens), Pete Ellis (Shetland Area Manager) and Jenny Sutherland (Administrator), and our volunteers. I look forward to sharing our news with you.