A night on the cliffs at Bempton


Equipment set and bedded down in my bivy by midnight, I hit the record button and settled in. Cocooned in my sleeping bag, I clamped headphones tight to my ears and slipped away into the sounds of the night.

I had travelled up from Hertfordshire during the afternoon, arriving in the low warm sunshine of an early May evening. My final destination was to be College Valley, near Wooler in Northumberland for a weekend of sound recording, so I had taken the chance to the break the journey at Bempton Cliffs near Bridlington to record the sounds of a seabird colony overnight.

The moon was still to rise and my eyes taking time to fully adjust to the darkness as I waited for a late visiting couple to return to their car and slip away before walking down to the cliffs, carefully following the paths to find my way.

I had decided that one of the viewing decks built as part of major new investment in facilities at Bempton by the RSPB would be my destination for the night. Once arrived I set down my rucsac and began to set up my microphones and bed roll, eyes now picking out the ribbons of stars above me. Cables laid and photographs taken, I unzipped my bed and slipped in, pulling the outer cover over my head to close out the elements.


The wind and the gentle call of kittiwake filled my head, senses reduced and expanded, ears leading me on a journey. I disappeared into the night, born on the winds swirling across the cliffs below, the viewing deck slipping anchor and sliding out into the North Sea on waves flecked by the first light of the rising moon.

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