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Pushy parents take to the cliffs at Bempton

Last modified: 09 July 2013

Razorbill with chick on nest ledge

Razorbill with chick on nest ledge.

Image: Stuart Elsom

To the uninitiated, ‘jumplings’ may sound like tiny sweaters.  But to the team at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, that’s the name used to describe the razorbill and guillemot chicks that make their home on the East Yorkshire nature reserve. 

Why jumplings? Because right now, these tiny balls of fluff are ready to throw themselves off the 400-feet high cliffs into the North Sea below, egged on by mum and dad. 

Unlike most birds, razorbill and guillemot young leave the nest before they can fly, so they literally take a massive leap of faith as they plummet over the cliff.

Keith Clarkson, Bempton Cliffs Site manager, explained: ‘It’s an amazing thing to see.  The male parent encourages the chick to the very edge of the ledge.  When the chick launches itself into the air the parent follows, and once they’re on the water the parent and chick call continuously until they’re re-united – they can make an incredible racket.”

The chicks make their unusual departure around dusk, as in the late evening there’s less chance of gulls snapping them up as a snack.  And there’s also safety in numbers.  This year however, due to the protracted breeding season, the chicks have been jumping in ones and twos making them relatively easy pickings for hungry gulls.

Having landed safely, the chick spends the next few weeks out at sea accompanied by dad, who will teach it how to feed and protect it from predators until it is able to fend for itself.

Keith added: “Giving nature a home is what we’re all about, so when the young birds leave home we’re always a little sad to see them go.   But with our campaign for marine conservation zones we’re doing all we can to safeguard their feeding areas to ensure they return next year.”

For anyone wanting to see the jumplings in action, the best chance of seeing them is on a calm night at around 10pm from the reserve’s cliff-edge viewing platforms at Bartlett Nab, Grandstand and Jubilee Corner. 

To find out more about how to help the RSPB give nature a home, visit www.rspb.org.uk/homes

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by give nature a home where we live.

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