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Recent sightings

  • 24 September 2016

    Yellow-browed Warbler Invasion!

    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.

    Posted by JessicaM

  • 8 September 2016

    Summer Fete madness & recent sightings...

    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 Sightings

    We 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. 

    Posted by JessicaM

  • 20 August 2016

    Seawatch, Moths & Recent Sightings

    Hi, It's Helen here!

    It’s been a busy few weeks at Bempton Cliffs, so I just wanted to let you know what has been happening here among other things.

    We were involved with the National Whale and Dolphin Watch week at the end of July where we had volunteers and visitors help us to spot cetaceans from our clifftop viewpoints. We were lucky enough to have sightings of Harbour Porpoise, grey seals and a common seal.  These sightings have now been sent to Seawatch Foundation who will add them to their database, so a big thank you to everyone who took part!

    I have also been setting the moth trap to see what species we have here at the reserve. I am totally new to identifying moths, so have had help from my colleagues not only to help set the trap, but also to help identify them! I am really surprised about how colourful some of the moths are and it is really interesting to see what we have and to add them to our records.

    Here are some pictures of the moths I have taken:

    Poplar Hawkmoth

    Spectacle – so called because it looks like it is wearing a pair of glasses!

    I will leave you with the recent sightings from the last few days... 

    Turnstone, marsh harrier, corn bunting, whinchat, ruff (flying south), duff (flying south), yellow wagtail (flying south), juvenile cuckoo, reed bunting, meadow pipit, red admiral, whitethroat, blackcap, house martin x12, redstart, oystercatcher x18, wheatear, willow warbler, pied flycatcher, grey heron x2 flew south, osprey, golden plover, porpose and minke whales x3!

    Till next time,


    Posted by JessicaM

  • 6 August 2016

    See you next year auks (and recent sightings!)

    It is officially the end of the auk season at Bempton Cliffs. We have the odd puffin and guillemot visible on the water, but the rest of the gang and their chicks appear to have left us until next season. It's been a busy few months, with tons of excited visitors spotting a puffin for the first time, leaving us with a tick on their bucket list and a promise to come back and see them again next year. We were lucky enough to even spot a puffling this year from our viewpoints, which is a very special treat as the parents usually keep them hidden safely in the burrow. All in all it's been a successful puffin season and as I mentioned in a previous blog post we managed to do our first Bempton Cliffs puffin count, so next year we will know whether the population is increasing or declining. 

    Image Credit: Misa Mass (facebook)

    The gannets are stealing the spotlight now, with our guided gannet walks leaving the visitor centre at 11am every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. The gannets have such a wide window of opportunity to lay their eggs, so as you can see from the photo below, they are all in different stages. We have the fluffy white cotton wool chicks, right through to chicks that will be ready to fledge around the 2nd week in August. The last gannet to fledge will be around mid-October and then the gannets will leave us at the end of October, so there is still plenty of time for you to come along and see these magnificent birds with your own eyes!

    Image credit: Nick Hanson @nickhansonphoto

    Last weekend we had a sighting of this beautiful Ruddy Darter dragonfly on the reserve. This species of dragon fly moved north of the Humber in the early 1990’s. It can now be found in many areas in East Yorkshire. It is locally abundant. However, to our knowledge it has never been recorded at RSPB Bempton Cliffs Reserve - despite extensive searching over the years. Last weekend, there were 2 males together for 1.5 hours in cliff top grass at Old Dor viewpoint. The image shows classic features (compared with Common Darter) being blood red, black legged and ‘waisted' near the base of the abdomen. 

    Image and words credit: Trevor Charlton

    Before I jump onto the recent sightings, we have our Bempton Cliffs Summer Fete taking place on the reserve from 25th - 31st August. Come and join us for this fun event where you can have your face painted as an animal, a bird, a bug or a butterfly. Try your hand at the ring toss and find out if your aim is as good as an Auks! Throw a coin on the chocolate toss and try to catch a ‘fish’ for your dinner. Hook-a-Puffin and win a prize or learn an interesting fact about Bempton’s most popular sea bird - all for a small donation! I have really enjoyed preparing this event, especially turning these rubber ducks into puffins! It would be great to see as many visitors as possible join us and help us to raise money for our reserve. We also have a raffle full of amazing prizes, including prints by the amazing Steve Race and Chrys Mellor. There is no need to book, just turn up and have fun! 

    Recent Sightings

    Here is a list of our recent sightings over the last week or so... redshank, great skua, canada goose, cormorant x 10 flying north past Bartlett Nab, common scoter, juvenile cuckoo spotted throughout this week and again yesterday at Staple Newk in the afternoon and this morning flying from New Roll Up inland, kestrel, yellow wagtail, marsh harrier, great white egret, peregrine, great skua, harbour porpoise, grey seal, lesser whitethroat, grasshopper warbler, reed warbler, painted lady butterfly x8, swallow, oystercatcher x 16 flying south, ruddy darter dragonfly, six-spot burnet moth.

    There is so much to see here and our recent sightings book is available for you to view in our visitor centre. Feel free to add anything you have spotted yourselves! 

    Posted by JessicaM

  • 14 June 2016

    Auk, gannet and kittiwake chicks + Recent Sightings

    This time of year is so exciting at Bempton Cliffs! We have chicks everywhere and every time I catch sight of one I can't help but feel warm and fuzzy inside. In the last week or two we have started to spot the auk chicks huddled with their parents on their tiny ledges. I didn't know this, but auk chicks hatch at quite a good size, as they leave the nest after just 2 and a half weeks and need to be big enough to do so. When they leave the nest they jump down to the sea, which is where they get the name 'jumplings' from. Their flight feathers take another 4 weeks to fully form, so until then they sit on the sea and continue to be fed by the male. In this picture you can get an idea of the size of a guillemot chick, which still has a week or so left before it is ready to fledge.

    Guillemot and chick - Image by Mark Smales.

    The gannets have a much wider window of opportunity when it comes to laying their eggs. The first gannets start returning to the cliffs in January, and the last gannets will leave in October. We have many gannet chicks on the cliffs at the moment, and many more to come! So, if you've visited us recently and seen the many different stages of gannet chicks on the cliffs, that's why! Pair 33's chick was the first to hatch at the beginning of May, so will be the biggest by far, but it still has 6-8 weeks left in the nest before it will be ready to fledge. The gannet chick pictured below is still small enough to sit safe and warm under the adult. Isn't it cute?!

    Gannet with chick - Image by Kevin Groocock

    While I have been writing this post my e-mail pinged with this gorgeous photo fresh from the cliffs of a kittiwake with its chicks. This is our first sighting of kittiwake chicks this year at Bempton Cliffs, so it definitely needed a mention! I've been watching in awe for weeks as large numbers of kittiwakes have been gathering nesting materials from a pond across the fields near Jubilee Corner, and then flying back over visitors' heads to their nests on the cliffs. That all stopped about 3 weeks ago and now I know why :-)

    I told you it was an exciting time to be here!

    Image by Michael Babcock


    The team here at Bempton are really efficient with updating our recent sightings board, so here is what we've seen around the reserve lately.

    Kestrel, barnacle geese x 4 flying north, sandwich tern flying south past Grandstand, painted lady butterfly, sparrowhawk (female), peregrine falcon, corn bunting, reed bunting, linnet, white throat, tree sparrow, barn owl, turtle dove, spoonbill, small copper butterfly, yellow wagtail, canada geese x 40 flying by Bartlett Nab. Lastly in the Dell there has been a blackcap, lesser white throat x2 and a moorhen with 3 one week old chicks.

    Posted by JessicaM

  • 23 May 2016

    Puffin season is in full swing!

    We are well and truly into puffin season now, and I'm still as excited as a child on Christmas morning every time I see one. Our Puffin Patrols have been full every day and we've had some lovely feedback from the excited visitors that are seeing puffins for the first time. The novelty really doesn't seem to wear off, and that's probably because the puffins are here for such a short space of time. If you are planning on coming to see a puffin with your own eyes, make sure you get here before the end of July as the puffins will be leaving then and we don't want you to miss out! For those of you that can't make it to Bempton Cliffs during puffin season, here is a gorgeous video that our live cameras captured of a puffin that appears to be posing for the camera. They really are good looking little birds, aren't they?

    (Please visit the site to view this video)

    So, in my last blog I wrote about our first gannet egg of the season from pair 33. Since then we've seen two gannet chicks (gugas), one from pair 33 at Staple and another from Jubilee viewpoint. We have not yet managed to capture a clear enough photo to share with you, but we're keeping our eyes peeled and hopefully we'll have something worth sharing soon! The other seabirds also seem to be doing well with their eggs, and hopefully by early June we will have some baby guillemots and razorbills (jumplings) on the cliffs too. 

    Razorbill and egg - Image by Michael Babcock.

    I'm still really enjoying myself in my role of Visitor Experience Assistant, I'm learning something new every day and sometimes really stepping out of my comfort zone, which has been scary but rewarding. I'm looking forward to what the rest of the season has to offer and I'll hopefully have plenty more to blog about in the months to come. Thank you for reading :-)


    It's been a while since my last blog post, so we've had quite a lot of sightings on the reserve. We've seen corn bunting, oystercatcher, swallows (back in the nest at the entrance to the visitor centre), iceland gull (flew over), peregrine (pair), short eared owl, red kite, common buzzard, osprey (flew over), house martin, yellowhammer, lesser whitethroat, whitethroat, sparrowhawk, grey seal and porpoise. 

    Posted by JessicaM

  • 10 April 2016

    Gannets, Puffins, Recent sightings...

    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:

    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...

    (Please visit the site to view this video)

    Next up are the Puffins! I must confess that until I started here at Bempton Cliffs, I had never seen a real life puffin. I've been waiting along with all the eager visitors for them to finally make their return to the cliffs and now that they have, I couldn't wait to get out on Puffin Patrol today with Angela to finally see one with my own eyes! It's a gorgeous day today, bright sunshine and barely any wind,  the perfect day to be out on the cliffs. We were unlucky for the first part of the walk, the view point volunteers told us the puffins were there but they were hiding inside their burrows, so we marched onto Bartlett and that's when we got lucky! There were two gorgeous little puffins perched on a ledge, and I squealed like a child with excitement when I finally got my eyes on them. I managed to snap a photo of one of them through the telescope  with my iPhone. I know, so unprofessional, but my first ever sighting of a puffin had to be documented. 

    Puffin Patrols take place every morning at 11am if you are interested in joining us to learn a bit more about Bempton's most popular sea bird and see them with your own eyes! You don’t need to book, just turn up, it’s first come first serve. It's worth it, Angela was fantastic. 


    To make up for my bad quality photo here's a gorgeous picture taken by Keith and Abigail Hunter on our Jubilee Corner view point during their visit on Wednesday this week. Abigail is 12 years old and while Dad was setting up the camera, Abigail was first of the family to spot one! 

    Photo credit to Keith and Abigail Hunter 


    There'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 :)

    Posted by JessicaM

  • 26 March 2016

    Where have all the Auks gone?

    Hi everyone!

    My name is Jess Mortimer and I am the newly appointed "Visitor Experience Assistant" at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. One of my many tasks is to keep the blog up to date with recent sightings and other information about what is happening on and around the reserve! I'm looking forward to getting stuck in and hopefully you'll enjoy reading what I have to say :-)

    So, it's Easter Bank Holiday weekend and the big question on everyone's lips at the moment is "Where have all the Auks gone?" For over a month now we have had tens of thousands of Guillemots and Razorbills on the cliffs, and then, earlier this week, the Puffins came back to make a quick check of their nests. No sooner had the TV cameras arrived to film them they were gone! What we are all wondering is, what was the trigger that made the Puffins come and go and 'take the rest' of the Auks and many of the Kittiwakes with them? Of course we are all keeping our eyes on the cliffs for their imminent return in the next few days, but until then there are still thousands of Gannets and Kittiwakes to be seen and we are waiting for our very first 'Easter Egg' - the first Gannet egg of the season! Who will be the first to spot it?! 

    Lastly, we have some exciting news to share with you all. For the first time ever we have managed to get a good idea of the breeding population of puffins here on the cliffs. The trick was to count them on the sea  before they returned to their nests. So, Dave and Keith set out with their telescopes and clickers and after 8 hours they managed to cover the whole length of the colony from Flamborough to Speeton. The Puffins were evenly spread on the water, from below the cliffs to 1km out at sea, mostly in small groups of up to 6, and their count totaled at approximately 2,300 individual birds, suggesting a breeding population of over 1,100 pairs! Hopefully when the Puffins make their return to the cliffs in the next few days we will get another chance to count them. We can't wait to have them back!

    Recent Sightings

    Some of our visitors Alister, Anna and Myriam Burr were lucky enough to spot a Firecrest resting on the cliffs from the Jubilee viewpoint at Bempton Cliffs this afternoon. Rosemary, one of our view point volunteers at Jubilee also managed to snap a photograph of the gorgeous little bird on the viewpoint decking. This bird was part of an arrival of Firecrests on the East Coast with others seen at Flamborough Head and Spurn Point on the same day. 

    Posted by JessicaM

  • 10 February 2016

    Blue Skies and Pink-feet - early spring migration at Bempton cliffs

    Easily dismissed as the usual resident locals, flocks of grey geese are worth a closer look at this time of year – particularly for Pink-footed Geese, wild wanderers that perfectly encapsulate the wonder of long-distance migration on our doorsteps, writes Mark James Pearson
    As in most parts of the UK, here in East Yorkshire the default Anser (grey goose species) is the Greylag (above right), a successful feral all-rounder and a familiar sight across town and country. Unnoticed by many, however, are their highly migratory and truly wild relatives, Pink-footed Geese (above left), which arrive during the autumn and begin their northbound spring migrations as early as February. Thus, for the more optimistically inclined among us, northbound movements of Pink-feet constitute one of the first surefire glimmers of spring in what can often be an otherwise quite unforgiving pre-season lull.
    Much smaller and daintier than their more cumbersome resident cousins, Pink-feet begin to grace the skies above our coastline in mid-September, signalling the subtle changing of the season and ushering in a new phase of the migration calendar. For the rest of the autumn, surges of birds head purposefully south, at almost any altitude – from low over the waves, to almost invisibly high in the clear blue skies which provide ideal conditions for migrating. Many Pink-feet use our coastline as a roadmap for their return journeys to and from more southerly wintering grounds; some, however, often choose to stick around through the darkest months, and this year we've several flocks of wintering birds roving around the local area.
    In flight, Pink-footed Geese flocks are distinctive in that they're often quite ramshackle and have a tendency to ‘fall apart’, constantly evolving and mutating in shape as they continue their journey. Just as indicative (and often the first sign) of an imminent arrival are their instantly recognisable, wonderfully musical calls – a playful, conversational yelping (in stark contrast to the deep honk of Greylags), and a sound that never fails to turn the head and lift the spirits.
    Numbering only several hundred thousand birds globally, and with the vast majority – and the entire Greenland and Iceland breeding populations – wintering in the UK, Pink-feet are very much a ‘British’ bird, relying on our shores for their winter sanctuary, and indeed their very survival, year after year. After passing the season in our relatively balmy climes, they reorientate back towards the Arctic, skilfully navigating along the contours of our coast, as they have for countless generations, and hopefully will for many more to come.   Mark James Pearson  

    Posted by Mark Pearson

Your sightings

Grid reference: TA1973 (+2km)

Common Rosefinch (1)
18 Sep 2016
Yellow-browed Warbler ()
25 Sep 2016
Tree Sparrow ()
25 Sep 2016
Greenshank (1)
25 Sep 2016
Pied Flycatcher (1)
25 Sep 2016
Whinchat (10)
25 Sep 2016
Dotterel (1)
21 Sep 2016
Lapland Bunting (2)
21 Sep 2016
Long-tailed Skua ()
20 Sep 2016
Red-throated Diver ()
17 Sep 2016

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Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 54.14609,-0.16889
  • Postcode: YO15 1JF
  • Grid reference: TA197738
  • Nearest town: Bridlington, East Yorkshire
  • County: East Riding of Yorkshire
  • Country: England

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