Bird migration is in full swing at Bempton Cliffs as we move into late September. The arrival of the Yellow-browed Warblers has had everyone in a spin, with a record breaking number of 14 (maybe more) spotted on the reserve in one day. Our previous record was 5, so quite exciting for us! These very pretty little birds have been spotted on our Nature Trail, in The Dell and more recently this morning in the top car park and Pallas's Patch (goldmines for migrants at the moment!) My advice would be to get down here as soon as possible if you want to catch them. Other migrants that have been spotted on the reserve this morning include; chiffchaff x2, whinchat x1, goldcrest x4.
Image credit: Dave Aitken
Image credit: Trevor Charlton
Birds seen in the last few days include; yellow-browed warbler x14, redstart x1, whinchat x9, stonechat x1, willow warbler x1, chiffchaff 5+, siskin, grey wagtail, white wagtail, whitethroat, blackcap, common buzzard, tree pipit, pink-footed goose, grey plover, golden plover, peregrine.
Thanks to everyone that came along and joined in with our Bempton Cliffs Summer Fete at the end of August. Our staff and volunteers had so much fun manning the quirky stalls and visitors seemed to really enjoy themselves, with Hook-a-Puffin being a big favourite!
Chris couldn't resist joining in with the fun and ended up with a different face paint every day, his favourite being the puffin. He was a great advertisement as lots of kids wanted 'the same as the man on the desk.' Thanks Chris!
By the end of the week we had managed to raise a whopping £550 towards seabird conservation, which is fantastic! The fete definitely put the fun back into fundraising and it was a nice change to our usual summer activities on the reserve.
All in all it was a great week and we look forward to something similar on the reserve next summer :-)
Recent SightingsWe are into migration period now, so the summer migrants are leaving, while the winter migrants are starting to make an appearance.
We've had recent sightings of spotted flycatcher, willow warbler, whinchat, swift, blackcap, pied flycatcher, yellow wagtail, wheatear, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, golden plover and ruff.There has also been sightings of common buzzard, a female grey partridge and chick, oyster catcher, goldcrest, migrant hawker dragonfly and harbour porpoise.
We also still have the fulmar, shag, herring gull and the gannets with their chicks all at different stages. Quite a few gannet chicks have fledged, while there are still some on the cliffs with their fluffy white down.
A blustery, damp day isn't the best time to undertake a beach clean. (Ever tried controlling a black bin liner in a strong wind? They have a life of their own.). However, the hardy group who had turned up on Bridlington's North Beach to help collect litter were well prepared - which was just as well as August felt more like November.
It's amazing what you find left behind on the sands. If you use a phrase like 'flotsam and jetsum' it sounds quite nice, all driftwood and ship's rope just waiting to be turned into Kirsty Allsop-esque home decor. But in reality the detritus of modern life can be pretty grim. We discovered several piles of dog poo and, what we innocently thought was 'fabric', turned out to be the lining from sanitary towels.
And it's astonishing just how much litter there is out there - especially as one passerby said that the council's cleaning team had been out only days before. Figures from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust suggest that 20,000 tonnes of marine litter are dumped into the North Sea each year, of which 15% washes up onto our shoreline. So maybe the shoes we found were actually cast off to walk barefoot on a beach in Acapulco.
No stone was left unturned (literally on this pebble strewn beach) as we scoured the sand to retrieve even the smallest shard of plastic, of which there were many. In a 2015 study, as many as 9 out of 10 seabirds were found to have some plastic in their gut. And it was easy to see how the pieces of a broken plastic coffee cup could look like a tasty morsel to a gull. The most recent shocking claim, that by 2050 there'll be more plastic in the sea than fish, is truly frightening. If we don't change our ways, we could be up the creek without one of these - which we also added to the rubbish heap.
As if to prove the point, we did indeed find loads of plastic - bottles, bottle tops, food packaging and, because it's the height of the holiday season, plenty of broken buckets, spades and sand castle making toys. But the kids aren't always to blame. While we were litter picking a dog owner threw a ball that was caught by the wind. Rover couldn't be bothered to 'fetch' and the pair went off leaving the ball to scoot down the beach. Fortunately we had some young legs with us in the shape of Gracie, a volunteer at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, who ran after it to add to the growing pile of unwanted stuff.
We reckon that we covered around half a mile of beach and accumulated six bin liners-worth of litter. We logged all the items collected over the last 100 metre stretch to send to the Marine Conservations Society via the Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts's Waves of Waste project. They collate the information from similar local clean-up exercises which is then added to a national database. The YWT can also analyse this data to determine local trends in marine litter and to tackle marine litter sources directly.
There was some good news at the end of the day...we found very few plastic bags. Both Tesco and Morrisons report a drop of around 80% in single-use carrier bag purchases. As supermarkets handed out 7.64 billion of them in 2014, this is pretty impressive. Maybe it's time to re-introduce the returnable bottle that we used to have as kids.
The next beach clean in Bridlington is in October. Please join us. More details here: