The RSPB reserve at Bempton has to be one of the best places on mainland Britain to see seabirds with the largest onshore Gannet Colony but also the largest Kittiwake Colony, add in Guillemots and Razor Bills and also that cheeky chappy that steals the show, the clown of the seaworld, the Puffin. The latter are not in the same numbers as the others but a significant colony and distinquishable from a distance as the only seabird on this coast which appears to have red wellies.
Add in the odd fulmars, shags to be seen just above the crashing waves and if you are lucky a peregrine and you have one of the best sea watching spots in the UK.
What strikes you about a seabird colony, other than the cacophony of noise and of course the smell, is the precarious nature of the birds’ existence and their nesting sites as they cling perilously to the near vertical cliff faces .Also add in what appears to be a fair amount of squabbling as the various species compete for valuable and what appears to be limited nesting spaces. Yet despite this, there is a considerable co-existence between the species and impressively you get the odd guillemot or razor bill nesting within Gannet City.Gannet & Guillemots
Entry to the reserve is Non-members: adults £3.50, children (aged 5-17) £1.50, family (two adults and two children) £8.50, though if you walk along the cliff then effectively entrance is free, though as we are members then also entry is free. What is impressive about Bempton, other than the birdlife is the efforts that the RSPB has made to make birding accessible. There are disabled walkways together with viewing platforms and a number of helpers who will patiently explain the difference between the seabird species. The café is not bad either for a cuppa and a snack.
Our base was Grange Holidays, which as well as offering a campsite, also has farmhouse accommodation and cottages to let. We chose the Grange as it had hard standings, as we had previously a few weeks before come to grief on grass in Norfolk. The Grange is a well-kept site with a new toilet block and showers, kept scrupulously clean and it also has a washing up facility with lashings of hot water. Unfortunately it does not have a motorhome service point. The welcome was first class and the site has a pleasant open rural feel and less than a mile to the cliffs, with directions given by the wardens.
The reserve is probably another couple of miles but the big
advantage is that you do not have the crowds but still plenty of birdlife and
with the added advantage of meeting a local farmer, who photographs and studies
the bird behaviour and who was a wealth of knowledge. Additionally this is
where we had the best observations of puffins. Also do not forget to look
inland for corn bunting and linnets.
After an excellent lunch and a mosey around the RSPB shop
and a look at the cam shots of the Gannets we proceeded north in the direction
of Filey and again we lost the crowds and were rewarded with close up views of
the Gannets as they came to the clifftop to gather nesting material.