During the past week we have seen big changes, plus one fantastic surprise, on our spectacular cliff-top reserve.
The initial influx of Guillemots and Razorbills had come and gone by the penultimate weekend of February, and whilst this is quite normal behaviour, it was, nevertheless, a bit disappointing to see their ledges empty again so soon. However, we need not have despaired, because by last Thursday they were steadily heading back and by Saturday several thousand seabirds were once more lining the cliff face. And what a thrill it is to watch these short-winged birds torpedoing downwards from on high to skim frenetically across the surface of the ocean before speeding back up to join their colonies on favoured ledges.
(Please visit the site to view this video)
Puffin - Scott Smith (Nettletrip Cam)
Well, that was the big change, but then came the fantastic surprise, when, on Saturday 1st March (yes, 1st March), an excited visitor returned to the centre to show us a photo she had just taken of a Puffin sitting on a rocky ledge. Our first Puffin of the season. Puff-tastic! It is of course far too early to expect many more to follow just yet, the expectation being that this little chap will return to the sea for a while longer. Although, having said that, further sightings have since been made of several Puffins sitting on the water not far from shore; so who knows, we may have some early returners to give joy to all on our cliff top viewpoints.
Seal - Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)
There were, in addition, lots of other sightings to enthral our visitors, not least of which the Seals and Harbour Porpoises leisurely cruising in the mostly flat calm sea. There were also Skylarks aplenty, singing at the top of their voices, reminding us that Saturday was the beginning of the meteorological Spring. But, top of the shop for one particularly fortunate family, was a bumper ten minutes of bird-spotting, when, having just been focusing on a Peregrine sitting high on the cliff, they turned to see a flock of twenty-five Snow Buntings rise and fall when disturbed by a tractor ploughing in an adjacent field; and, if that wasn’t enough to stir their spirits, within a couple more steps they came across our much admired Short-eared Owl sitting on a nearby cliff top fence post. “WOW!” I think, says it all.
Snow Bunting - Steve Race © (Yorkshire Coast Nature)
And here’s some more great news: in keeping with our wish for the Bempton Cliff’s experience to be one that is full of fun for all the family, we are continuing to run the popular activities, viz Winter Bingo & Wildlife Trail (at no cost to participants) originally organised for children who visited during the recent half-term school holidays.
So come on down to Bempton Cliffs, remembering of course to be prepared for seasonal weather by bringing boots, gloves, hats, scarves and three layers of warm clothing. And, when you’ve had your fill of Bempton Cliff’s delight, pop back into the centre for a hot chocolate, coffee, cappuccino or tea accompanied by a light snack ... eccles cakes and muffins come highly recommended.
See you soon at Bempton Cliffs ...