Once again, Bridlington’s biggest secret, Bondville Model Village, will be opening for one day only during winter especially to welcome the Bempton Cliffs' crew.
The team will be returning to the popular tourist attraction this January to hold a Big Garden Birdwatch (BGBW) on Saturday 24 between 10am and 4pm.
As you probably know by now, BGBW is an annual event in the RSPB’s calendar when we ask the public to spend an hour, over the weekend of 24-25 January, logging the wildlife that they see in their garden. The Bondville event will include an official count and give visitors the low-down on how to do a count in their own back garden or yard on Sunday.
Marketing Officer, Maria Prchlik, said:
‘Last year we welcomed 60 people to Bondville to record the birds flitting in and around the tiny houses and find our more about garden wildlife. We’d love even more people to come and have a peek through our binoculars this year so we’ve added a lot more exciting things to brighten up a grey January day. Bingo heads can play a game of Nature Bingo and crafty types might prefer to have a go at making a bird feeder from three simple pieces of equipment - an apple, a piece of string, and a lolly-stick.'
Bondville’s cafe will open for food and hot drinks so you can keep warm with a cuppa while spotting what's flying and hopping and even creeping and crawling around the one acre grounds. ’
Last year almost half a million people took part in the national Big Garden Birdwatch to help paint a picture of how different species are faring across the UK. The Top Three birds spotted were house sparrow, blue tit and starling.
And some interesting trends came to light: for the first time since Birdwatch began in 1979, greater spotted woodpeckers made it into the Top 20 list. However, some feedback was less heartening. Song thrush numbers have declined by 81% in the 36 years Birdwatch has been taking place, while starling numbers have plummeted by 84%.
Having this information allows the RSPB to investigate causes and take positive action. So Big Garden Birdwatch is not only fun, it’s vital to helping give nature a fighting chance. And at the Bondville event you can also find out how you can make some simple changes to give a helping hand to the species most under threat.
Wildlife Experience Officer, Jo Allen, added:
‘Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s biggest wildlife survey so it’s an important piece of research but it’s one that anyone can get involved in. We’ll tell you all you need to take part at the Bondville event and there'll be plenty happening to keep nature-loving kids entertained. But If you're unable to join in the fun at Bondville, you can register online and get a free entry pack at: www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/how-to-take-part’
The new RSPB seabird heritage centre at Bempton Cliffs, funded by awards from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Coastal Communities Fund, is due to open in April 2015.
PLEASE NOTE THE VISITOR CENTRE, VIEWPOINTS AND TOILETS ARE CLOSED UNTIL 1 APRIL 2015 FOR MAJOR REDEVELOPMENT. PUBLIC FOOTPATHS WILL REMAIN ACCESSIBLE. TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH PROGRESS, FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK OR KEEP AN EYE ON OUR BLOG. THE NEAREST PUBLIC TOILETS ARE AT FLAMBOROUGH HEAD AND IN BRIDLINGTON.
Apologies for a big break from the last recent sightings update. If you are not aware it is an exciting time for us here at Bempton Cliffs as our visitor centre and infrastructure is getting redeveloped. With this redevelopment there has potentially been a lot of disturbance and is due to continue until the end of March.
So what sightings have we been getting over winter? From late October to December there were the usual suspects of Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit at the feeding station. Brambling have occasionally been seen either in the Dell or Feeding station. Fieldfares and Redwings have also regularly been seen on passage, along with Pink-footed and Greylag Geese flying over the reserve.
(Fulmar – Steve Race©)
The winter period is probably the best time to fully appreciate Fulmars, as there is the combination of breeder and non-breeders flying around and on the cliffs. Come the height of the breeding season the non-breeders remain out at sea and the individuals who remain to breed can be difficult to spot amongst the thousands of other seabirds. There is also the mystery of Guillemots sporadically appearing in their thousands on the cliffs over the winter period.
(Guillemots – Steve Race©)
So that’s 2014 - what sightings have we been getting to kick start 2015? Well apart from the Herring Gulls, this past week there has been a flock of up to 30 Twite seen in the neighbouring set-aside fields, along with ten or so Rock Pipits within the pasture fields. Over the last three days a female Merlin has been around and a pair of Stonechats have been making cheeky appearances between Grandstand and Barlett Nab viewpoints. Keep your eye on the water for Red-throated Divers and maybe the odd Grey Seal popping its head out.
(Red Throated Diver – Steve Race©)
Don’t forget it is the Big Garden Birdwatch on 24th-25th January. Join thousands of others and pick an hour over that weekend to discover the wildlife in your garden. Register online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/ before the day to receive reminders and your free pack. The more people involved, the more we can learn. So, grab a cuppa and together we can all help to give nature a home.
It seems our call for stories about Grandstand viewpoint has brought back some truly happy memories. Visitors have contacted us from far and wide recollecting happy moments on our most accessible cliff edge platform overlooking the North Sea.
Caroline from Suffolk told us she was thrilled at the prospect of seeing puffins off the Yorkshire coast but she arrived to find a sea-fret shrouding the cliffs. Fortunately this quickly dispersed and she was soon peering out over the edge of Grandstand, trying to spot a puffin on the sheer cliffs below. Her experience prompted her to write a poem, 'A Chink in the Sky', which was later published in an anthology, 'A Pocket Full of Spring Fever'. Here are the first couple of verses:
Flashes of amber appear in the spray:
puffins return through a chink in the sky,
flaunting their costumes like clowns in a play,
making a splash as they flutter and fly.
Guillemots gather and kittiwakes cry:
puffins are pairing and waiting to lay,
fanning their feathers as partners stand by.
Flashes of amber appear in the spray.
Another visitor, Alice, has visited the reserve on dozens of occasions over the years to see the amazing seabirds that make their home on the cliffs. However, her most enduring memory at Grandstand is not of of the wildlife but of the weather. On the last day of her honeymooon in 2011, she and her husband witnessed the most amazing sunset that seemed to feature every shade of red known to the world. Alice said It was the perfect end to a magical holiday!
There's still time to tell us your story - and be in with a chance of winning an original viewpoint name plaque.
Email your words and pictures to email@example.com. Or post them on our Facebook page - RSPB North Yorks and East Riding - where you'll also find full terms and conditions for the competition in the 'Notes' section.