Bempton Cliffs made it into our top 5 things to do on the Yorkshire coast when we blogged about it in September last year.
We’ve not been back there for many months for obvious reason, so as things are beginning to unlock, we decided to go this weekend, and were reminded how truly spectacular it is. About half a million seabirds gather there between March and October and it really is a sight to see. The birds cram onto the tiniest of ledges on chalk cliffs; apparently Chris Packham calls it the “Nou Camp of the bird world”. The sounds (and smells!) are incredible, and the views across out to sea are spectacular.
This is the earliest in the season we’ve been, and so the seabirds are still returning to their nesting sites. It felt calmer than when we’ve visited in peak chick hatching season when the toing and froing of birds feeding their chicks is a sight to watch.
We saw gannets, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and herring gulls. As well as a hunting barn owl who to much excitement caught a vole while everyone was watching. We also saw the first swallows of the summer which was a wonderful surprise. Sadly, no puffins this time, but we have seen them before and will again.
We highly recommend Bempton for a visit; it’s just over an hour’s drive from the Long Barn.
We love the camaraderie amongst the visitors who point birds out to each other, and are happy to give tips of the best place to go. There are the pro’s with their huge long camera lenses, and then people with a set of bino’s or just a camera phone. Along the cliff are a number of viewing platforms, and people are great at giving each other space, and moving along to the next place to view to let others have their turn.
Dogs are welcome, and there is a small café for coffee/snacks as well as a shop. The whole place is manned by enthusiastic RSPB staff who give out tips of where to go, and also what’s been seen recently.
We’d recommend getting there before 10am if you want to get a car park space rather than queue up; we think it’s the best time to see the birds. In fact, as we arrived, a friend who is a keen wildlife photographer, was just leaving having been there from 5.30am. Apparently, it also quietens off late pm which is also a good time to go. Most people follow the cliffs up to the North but we were tipped off to turn right and head south first. It was quieter and was where we took the photo of the eroded arch.
They have a great web site as well as a page on Facebook “RSPB Bempton Cliffs” which keeps you up to speed with the latest sightings as well as some of the activities you can book.
In fact, inspired by our visit we’ve booked on Diving Gannet Cruise in August. So watch this space for an update later in the year.