Just like the sea birds, it is now our time to leave the cliffs for the winter. This is going to be our last blog post from Bempton Cliffs, as myself and Laura are going to be spending the winter at Coombes Valley and Fairburn Ings for the remainder of our internship. Watching the cliffs go from almost empty at the start of the season, all the way up to full capacity by June has been absolutely incredible. We've both learned so much from all the volunteers here, and I'm sure we'll be coming back for a visit next summer. And the next one, and the next one etc. Taking our place will be the lovely Chris Calow, who's going to be the Visitor Experience Intern through the winter.
The Swallow nest just outside the entrance to the visitor centre has been a hive of activity over the past couple of weeks! With a second brood of four chicks to raise, the adults have been buzzing back and forth regularly.
Photo by Leo Kokoszko
After fledging the chicks were spotted for several days hanging around on the fence close to the visitor centre getting used to life outside the nest. This lovely photo was taken by a visitor, Kathryn Davies.
Photo by Kathryn Davies
This time of year is great for spotting cetaceans from the cliffs. We were lucky enough to get some fantastic views of a Minke Whale on the 10th August and then again on the 12th and 15th!
Minke Whale - Tony Mayman
There have also been a couple of reports of White Beaked dolphins on the 20th and 21st. Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seals are still being spotted regularly.
There have been lots of different butterflies spotted fluttering about along the cliff-top and the nature trail. The peacocks in particular are showing really well along with the Large White, green veined white, small tortoise shell, small white and painted lady.
Peacock butterfly - Leo Kokoszko
Red Admiral - Leo Kokoszko
The Dell has come to life with all sorts of summer migrants stopping off before they head south for the winter. In August, Wheatear (15th, 23rd), Icterine Warbler (24th), Blackcap (19th, 20th, 22nd, 25th, 27th), Goldcrest (27th), Whitethroat (20th, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, 27th) and Lesser Whitethroat (24th) were all spotted.
Icterine Warbler - Photo by Dave Aitken
Willow Warbler - Leo Kokoszko
Whitethroat - Leo Kokoszko
Pied Flycatcher - Leo Kokoszko
Spotted Flycatcher - Leo Kokoszko
Laura and Becky
This will be my last Blog post as I am in my final week of being a Residential Volunteer here at Bempton Cliffs. I have had a fantastic experience here. Bempton wildlife has put on a phenomenal show and the volunteers and staff here have been wonderful. Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of witnessing some magical wildlife experiences, including; watching 4+ Harbour Porpoises from Bartlett Viewpoint this morning and witnessing Gannet chicks fledge the nest to name a few.
Above: Harbour Porpoise. Photographer: Adrian Ewart
Plus a couple of experiences which involved a lot of excited shouting and pointing, even other volunteers from the visitor center running down to the viewpoints:
There was one particular (and rare) day where the fields near the reserve were being harvested which caused thousands of small flies to swarm the viewpoints just for one day. I was out being a Viewpoint Volunteer that particular day. So these flies were winding me up, landing on every inch of everyone and anyone they could find (even up my top!). So there I was debating whether or not to call it a day and get away from the flies. When suddenly I see a splash. I think its nothing until I see a lot more. Gannets are diving just off of Grandstand Viewpoint! Gannets usually feed 18-35 miles out to sea so this was a very very rare occasion. More and more Gannets start diving right in front of me. I radioed up to the Visitor Center where the staff were quite skeptical of my claim, until I see several people in rspb uniform running down towards the viewpoint to check it out. I'm pretty sure that when the staff were pointing and "oooing and aaaahhhhing", the surrounding visitors realized how lucky they were to witness the diving Gannets. Everyone was thrilled to see this rare event. One man even said "My dream has been to see Gannets diving and now I have seen it".
Above: Gannets diving off of Grandstand Viewpoint. Photographer: Visitor
Another Viewpoint running moment I had was when the Minke Whale was spotted from the reserve. The Minke Whale was spotted for a few days in a row but I had been away. When I got back it seemed everyone had seen it but me. I was getting ready to head out for a day being a Viewpoint volunteer when someone mentioned there was a Minke Whale off of Bartlett Viewpoint...Well I had never been much of a runner until this moment! Sure enough there it was, the fin slowly rising out of the water close enough to not need Binoculars. This was absolutely fantastic. When I unexpectedly saw it later on in the day, I impulsively shouted "Minke Whale!", causing everyone around me to stop where they were and stare out to sea as I tried to describe where in the featureless huge expanse of ocean to look for the fin.
Minke Whale. Photographer: Steve Race
Being the Seabird Research Assistant Residential Volunteer, the Seabird monitoring front has dropped off a bit and the data analysis begins as various species have left. However I am still monitoring the productivity of a Gannet plot every week. There are still plenty of chicks of various sizes to come and see at Bempton. Including newly fledged Gannets on the water.
Above: One of the Gannets I am monitoring.
As the sun sets on my time at Bempton Cliffs, the actual sunsets continue to blow me away with their beauty:
Above: Taken on an IPhone (not edited) from the office in Bempton Village