... and it's taken a step closer to becoming a reality.
Thanks to a wonderful award of £33,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we can now start to develop our exciting plans for a seabird centre at Bempton Cliffs. This means we will be able to apply for a full grant in the future.
Our vision is that our internationally-important seabird reserve will become a year-round nature tourism destination and will play a key part in the economic regeneration of the Yorkshire coast.
Plans include the extension of the existing visitor centre into the seabird centre, with dedicated space for learning opportunities for both local communities and visitors. We will also be looking to build teams of live interpreters, seabird researchers and volunteers to help us do so much more at this amazing place
We already know that around 65,000 visitors every year enjoy what Bempton has to offer - whether that's the awesome seabird spectacle, or the equally breath-taking landscape in autumn and winter. By improving facilities for visitors, we want to make those visits even more memorable. And we also want to encourage people from all walks of life to experience the splendour that is England’s largest seabird colony.
This wonderful support from HLF gives us the funding we need to take our next steps towards achieving our dream.
So, huge thanks to those lovely people at HLF.
Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We look forward in due course to receiving the full application for this project that aims to protect the seabird colony at Bempton Cliffs while giving more people the opportunity to marvel at and learn more about it.”
Every day now it keeps coming as a bit of a surprise to us that they're still here. Each day it becomes less and less likely that we'll see any, but the odd spell of dodgy weather and small numbers keep appearing as if from nowhere. Most likely they'll be in little groups on the sea, but a couple of days ago some were still on the cliffs. We're talking, of course, of Puffins. By August they've normally long gone, but not this year, so if you do come in the next couple of days and catch up with one, you will be experiencing something rarely seen!
Plenty more to look for around the reserve and on the sea. Arctic Skuas have appeared as predicted over the sea and a group of Common Scoters flew by earlier in the week. That's the problem with passage seabirds - you've got to be at the right place at the right time, because they often don't hang around for long! Not so the Grey Seal that slowly drifted by allowing everyone a chance to see it, even the CCTV camera operators.
There has been a couple of recent sighting of Marsh Harrier and two Crossbills flew north last weekend. Again right place and right time, but definitely worth keeping an eye on the sky - it's possible any bird of prey might send the finch flock or even the Gannets and Herring Gulls into a bit of a panic, so keep alert. That is, if you're not checking the bushes for warblers and flycatchers and the fields for finches and buntings. What to do? Well Willow Warblers have been moving through every day, often settling to sing for a few minutes, but more likely to be heard 'hooeeting' from one of the little woodlands. Keep an eye out for the soft lemony young birds. I keep getting tempted, too, to search through the flock of Linnets in the weedy field next to the reserve, especially as it's clear there's plenty of other birds around them. Yellow Wagtails are particularly worth searching for, always a joy to watch and they seem to delight in feeding whenever you see them. Extra special as they'll soon be heading south for the winter.
A final thing to keep an eye on now is the little pond in the bird feeding station. We've found an ingenious way of keeping it full (thanks to Alan), but never stays that way for long as everything wants a bath and after a flock of Starlings have been in, there really isn't that much water left!
It's all happening on the reserve during the summer holidays.
Tea with the Gannets kicked off at the weekend and will be held every Tuesday and Saturday throughout August. It involves an hour's walk to meet our seabird researchers, who'll spill the beans about what they've discovered while watching the gannets this spring and summer. And the afternoon rounds off with tea and scrummy cakes in the marquee.
Our young visitors can enjoy Wild Wednesdays, starting this week, when there will be craft activities, trails and a bug hotel to build.
If you fancy testing your knowledge of wildlife of all kinds, then ask about the bug trail and the gannet trail - and don't forget to catch up on the exploits of the seabirds via the CCTV images in the visitor centyre.
Looking forward to seeing you.