Gannet Morus bassana, pair preening, Bass Rock

Where to see seabirds

Visit the coast in late spring and you’ll find the cliffs are teeming with noisy seabirds. Here are some you should look out for...

Gannets

These amazing birds are known for their expert diving skills.

They have yellow heads and can fold themselves into straight, arrow-like shapes in order to pierce the water’s surface and catch fish.  If you see one circling above the sea, they might be just about to plunge.

Bempton Cliffs is great for gannet-spotting.

Watching gannets

Check out this video about gannets (there's a brilliant slo-mo dive at 1.15)

Check out this video about gannets (there's a brilliant slo-mo dive at 1.15).

Play video
Gannet video screenshot
Razorbill on rock, Isle of May National Nature reserve

Razorbills

The stumpy, striped beak marks out this rather fierce looking black and white bird. The largest colonies are in Scotland.

Puffins

With their colourful beaks and sad eyes, it’s hard to mistake a puffin.

Most of the year they live in colonies at sea, known as ‘rafts’, then from April-July they return to have chicks. They nest in caves, crags and even rabbit burrows.

Unfortunately, puffins are now endangered and have been put on the Red List of Threatened Species. But you can still see them at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire, the North Cornish coast, and many parts of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Like puffins? Then why not bake some puffin muffins? They look pretty delicious.

Puffins

See puffins in their coastal habitat.

See puffins in their coastal habitat.

Play video
Puffin video screenshot

Guillemots

Looking a bit like penguins (but with wings that fly), guillemots can be found off the coast of Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire and the North East.

Did you know there's a British indie band called Guillemots? Not only did they name themselves after the bird, but they sometimes feature birdsong in their music.

Black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, adult standing on a potential nest site, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly

Kittiwakes

Pretty kittiwakes are the seagulls that won’t pinch your chips. Unlike their bold, urbanised cousins the herring gull, kittiwakes generally prefer a life at sea, coming back only to breed in tight clusters on cliffs - though you might see them in some seaside towns.

Who's who? Kittiwakes have black legs, while common gulls’ legs are yellow.

They have a distinctive call – some think it sounds like they’re saying their name: ‘kittiwake!’.

Listen to the kittiwake's call

Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto

Fulmar, North Hill RSPB reserve, Papa Westray, Orkney

Fulmar

Fulmar's are always offshore, except when breeding.

They can be found near all suitable cliffs and are most abundant along Scottish coastline, especially on the Northern Isles.

You can help seabirds

Many seabirds die from eating or getting tangled up in litter left by humans.

So take your litter home with you and, if you see bits of plastic lying about, and an adult says it’s safe, put it in the bin.