RSPB Bempton Cliffs

After a gastronomically delightful evening at The Black Cat on Eastborough in Scarborough we rose to the sun rising over the sea in the eastern skies. Topped up by breakfast, our path led a few miles south across the rolling coastal fields of Yorkshire’s East Ridings. We left the last the houses behind as the lane wriggled on towards the exposed coast, then parked in the RSPB Bempton Cliffs reserve grassy overflow field before setting off across the windswept fields, groups of people dotted in groups along the coastpath ahead.

The cliff-drop is spectacular, vertiginous chalk ramparts climbing from the bouldered beach below. Eyes and  ears immediately take in the bird life, a background cacophony accompanying the wheeling gannets, stubby razorbills and comical guillemots as they left and returned to imperceptible ledges.
The majestic gannets crammed the cracks and ledges

 We walked between the vantage points and watched in awe, each crack and split explored for that first view of our special quarry, a first view of that ‘star’ bird, the atlantic puffin. Scope and bins scanned the cliffs, checking each group of birds. Each species had their own territories – the gannets and guillemots grouped together, whilst razorbills, kittiwakes and the occasional jackdaw took their chances alone.
At last our eyes tuned in and we spotted a Puffin, it’s bright beak differentiating it from the black and white multitudes. Another was spotted closer still and allowed for some good views both with camera and scope.
A ‘life’ tick for us all brought smiles to our faces as we wandered back to the car, pausing for a sandwich in the meadow.
Back to Scarborough for the evening and a night out at the art decor Stephen Joseph Theatre to see Marlene before heading south the next morning for the next stop on our spring tour of the country, where we hoped to catch up with another iconic bird on the lakes of Rutland Water.




Guillemots, including a chick in the foreground

An adult Gannet with its 2 metre wingspan soars the updraft

At last, a puffin

A tree sparrow on the roof of the RSPB building

Red and Black Froghopper Cercopis vulnerata in the meadow


  1. Lovely. Some old favorites here, most of which are too far off to see with any regularity, but the gannets can be seen plunging into this side of the Atlantic.

  2. I think the Gannet is fast becoming one of my favourite birds. They look wonderful in flight and really are huge. Next project is to get out on a boat and watch them dive fishing up close. My dad produced a woodcut on this theme a couple of years back. I'll see if he'll let me post it on here

  3. What a spot and what lovely sightings. Please do post your father's woodcut – it sounds wonderful.

  4. Thanks Scott.

    It was a great trip all-round Melissa. I must get the Osprey post done too, which was our visit the following day. And thanks for the reminder on the woodcut! I'll see what I can do.


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