We've had more globe trotting visitors to the cliffs tops recently. But even folk closer to home sometimes make a big effort to get here. Earlier this month, a family from London gave their son a birthday treat by driving all the way from the capital to the reserve to see a puffin - and then drove home. That's real puffin dedication.
Puffins are on the must-see list of lots of our international visitors too - as our roving reporter on the cliff tops, Chris Leak, found out:
'It's always nice to know you've helped someone and when the help comes in the form of making a dream come true it makes the event even more special.
Lucea and Anna Maria van Timmeken were both from Holland, which is probably one of our closest neighbours, and also the country has most of the seabird species we have in this country.
The two visitors come from the North of Holland quite close to Germany and said the one bird they never saw at home were puffins as Holland does not have cliffs as high as Bempton, so the bird which is a real crowd pleaser and favourite is never seen.
Even then it was chance that brought the pair to the reserve.
Said Lucea: “ This is our first time in Flamborough and we were driving around taking a look at the area when we saw the signs for the reserve and decided to come and have a look.”
Despite it being cold with a biting wind, a handful of puffins had come ashore, probably to either claim a nest site or look around to find one, and the puffin dream came true as the favourites aired themselves on the cliff ledges.
“We never expected to see the puffins when we came here so to find some which had actually come out on to the cliffs was a real bonus.”
At the same time they were quite taken by the gannets as these large birds are seen in Holland but not to the same extent as in Flamborough.
“I suppose everything is linked to the height of the cliffs here compared to back home. But this is a tremendous facility and we have really enjoyed our visit.” she said.
From Holland to the USA was the next step to be made as Dave Kornfeld from Kansas dropped in with his wife, son and daughter-in-law to see what the East Coast had to offer.
For those who may not know too much about their part of the world Kansas is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south wind", although this was probably not the term's original meaning.
For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.
But Dave said they had heard of our reserve from: “Our daughter and her British husband. They had been here before and said we should have a look during our short stay in the UK. So here we are getting ready to step outside and see what is on offer. But even before looking round we have been impressed by the centre and what there is.”
And of course when they had finished the tour and been to the viewpoints which took their fancy they were looking forward to having a warm drink in the comfort of the cafe and a look around the shop.
Still on a transatlantic theme, the first weekend in April saw Carol Lord and her husband Steve arrive at the reserve hot on the puffin trail.
The couple, from San Diego, in California were in Bempton as part of a three-week visit to the UK which started in York after a drive up from touchdown in London. While they were in York they got talking to a lady bird enthusiast who said they must visit the RSPB at Bempton and the lady at the place where the couple were staying also gave the centre a good report. Like many of the visitors they had come to see Puffins but were also impressed by the gannets.
But there was little time for Carol and Steve to hang around. Steve had pictures to take and then the couple had trips arranged to Northumberland where they had Hexham in to visit and also a trip to see birdlife in Wales at the South stack reserve in Anglesey.
“And if the weather allows it we aim to climb Snowdon and also pencilled in is a trip to see Stonehenge.” she said.
Among the other visitors to the centre were a family of six from Lithuania, four visitors from Germany, a couple who had made the trip from Canada and one traveller had made the long haul from New Zealand.
All the signs are that the birds and rugged coastline of the East of Yorkshire are proving a big hit with people from all parts of the world.
Shannon Tse, who's studying in England, enjoyed her first (but hopefully not last) visit.
It's officially a month since I started my new role at Bempton Cliffs and I am enjoying every minute of it! My last blog noted that the Auks had all disappeared, but fear not, they have returned! Over the last week here at Bempton we’ve been lucky enough to see all of the ‘Big 8’ sea birds from the cliffs. Our live cameras have been a big hit too, capturing live footage from the cliffs and streaming it straight into our visitor centre where we’ve spent quite a few days over the Easter Period hiding from the wind and rain. We’ve seen the first Gannet egg of the season, puffins disappearing into the cliff crevices and we’ve even been able to take this footage and post it on our social media pages which is SO EXCITING because it means we can share these amazing sights with the world with just one simple click (well not quite one click, but almost.) If you don’t already follow us on Facebook then make sure you do, we don’t want you to miss out: https://www.facebook.com/RSPBnorthyorksandeastriding/
So, more about the gannet egg. For those of you that have been visiting Bempton Cliffs for many years you will know that ‘Pair 33’ also known as ‘Peckster and Flip’ have been laying their eggs on the cliffs here for at least 7 years. As soon as we heard they had laid the first egg of the season, we trained our live camera on their nest and waited very patiently all day for Mum to get up and stretch so we could catch a glimpse of the egg. Finally, after nearly a full day of us staring at the screen (whilst working of course) she got up, shuffled about and we all jumped up and down with EGG-citement because the egg was clear as day on the big screen! I’m sure you can just imagine us all jumping up and down in the visitor centre looking a little crazy. We will keep you updated on it’s progress! Here's a video we captured of the moment we had all been waiting for...
RECENT SIGHTINGSThere's been lots of sightings since my last post. We've had swallows passing Bartlett, a Stoat and Corn bunting at The Dell, Reed bunting, Chiff Chaff, Common Buzzard, Cormorant, Yellow Hammer, Short Eared Owl, Barn Owl, Peregrine falcon, Skylark, Meadow pipit and a Fire Crest in the top cark park. We have a new whiteboard on the wall in our welcome area for recent sightings, so please let us know what you've spotted and we can update our list for everyone to see. Hope you all have an fantastic weekend :)
We’re not big on fashion up on the cliff tops. So when you see your colleagues wearing something other than their usual fleece and welly combo, it’s really weird. It’s especially weird when they’ve swapped their work clothes for DJs and sequins (rarely seen together on the same person, I hasten to add). And, because we’re Yorkshire folk, it’s a sight that usually elicits the famous response, ‘By ‘eck, you scrub up well.’
So there was a lot of scrubbing up well on display at the recent Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards (REYTAs) held at The Spa, Bridlington a few weeks ago – including six members of the RSPB Bempton Cliffs team in their glad rags. The glittering occasion was attended by 500 people to celebrate all that’s good in tourism in the region and the Royal Hall was packed with excited folk hoping to get their hands on a much prized award.
This year saw a record number of entries, around 1400, and we’d been short-listed in the Visitor Attraction category but had no idea whether we had won or not – so we were on tenter-hooks throughout the gala dinner as our category was the last of the evening to be awarded. (Didn’t stop us enjoying the fab food though).
The first step on the road to REYTA success starts in January when entries need to be submitted to for judging. The entry covers a host of key areas that contribute to making the reserve a top visitor attraction - from examples of great customer service to innovative marketing ideas and lots in between. We also have to provide supporting material such as positive visitor feedback, press coverage and photos that show just what we’ve been doing all year. So the judging panel has a lot to consider.
This year Nature Tourism was big news in the Visitor Attraction category. We were up against our friends at The Living Seas Centre, The Yorkshire Belle and Yorkshire Coast Nature, amongst other contenders.
As the list of the nominees in the Visitor Attraction was announced, there was a lot of nervous laughter around the table – until that point, we’d congratulated ourselves on getting this far. But as the moment of truth approached, I felt I would have killed for an award rather than gone home empty handed. As it turned out, cold blooded murder wasn’t necessary.
Much cheering accompanied our name being read out. However, the judges couldn’t decide between us and the mighty Hull Truck Theatre of John Godber fame – so we were named joint winners.
Cue much celebration – and no small amount of relief.
Tourism body Visit Hull and East Yorkshire (VHEY), which is jointly funded by Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council, launched the REYTAs in 2009 and they have gone on to be regarded as one of the most prestigious events in the industry. They are now also aligned to the Visit England Awards for Excellence, giving REYTA winners the chance of national honours.
And yes, we will be entering. We’ll let you know how we go on.