An annual favourite returns to the Yorkshire Coast this summer, as RSPB Bempton Cliffs invites visitors to be wowed by the unrivalled view of thousands of gannets from aboard its Glorious Gannet Cruises.
Diving gannets are an amazing sight: the huge wings of the UK's largest seabird fold back as they plunge, knife-like, into the sea in pursuit of herring or mackerel. To enable visitors to get a front row view of this incredible spectacle, Bempton Cliffs is running three Glorious Gannets Cruises aboard the Yorkshire Belle between 30 July and 13 August.
Kim Smales, RSPB Cruise Co-ordinator says: "This is nature at its most breathtaking. The sheer grace and majesty of gannets is incredible in itself, but to see them dive is an unforgettable moment, something our passengers are completely overwhelmed by. Young or old, experienced birders or just those with a passing interest in wildlife, they can't quite believe their eyes."
These sailings, complete with expert commentary, get passengers up close and personal with the magnificent seabirds that make their home on the 400 feet high cliffs of the award-winning nature reserve.
With almost 28,000 gannets crowding the cliff's ledges and iconic sea arch at Staple Newk, the sky can fill with swooping, soaring birds as they leave their nests in search of food. A mix of the gannets' favourite snacks is thrown overboard by the crew to encourage them to dive - which they do at up to 60 mph. It's a photographer's dream.
Not only are gannets one of the most magnificent seabirds, they're also one of the most romantic. They mate for life and are often seen presenting one another with gifts of grass or flowers, giving even more fantastic photo opportunities.
Kittiwakes and fulmars may also be seen and passengers might be lucky enough to spot some late departing puffins on the sea too - and, if very lucky, seals or porpoises could put in a welcome appearance.
These cruises do get fully booked so it's advisable to book early by phoning the RSPB cruise office on 01262 422211. The cruise lasts about three hours and costs £22 for an adult and £11 for a child aged 16 and under. For more information and a full list of sailing dates, see www.rspb.org.uk/bemptoncliffs.