Bempton Cliffs

Bempton Cliffs

Route: Bempton Cliffs, on the RSPB ‘Glorious Gannet Cruise’

Area: East Yorkshire

Date of walk:  13th August 2017

Passengers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: n/a

Weather: Sunny

One of the benefits of having my own website is that I can make – and break – the rules. Today’s post isn’t a walk at all, unless you count the short stroll from the public car park to the North Pier at Bridlington, but it’s an outing worth recording in my diary on account of the wonderful scenery and wildlife action that we witnessed

We’ve walked above Bempton Cliffs many times (visit my Find Walks page and enter the name in the ‘Search site’ box), and have had some memorable sightings of the seabirds which inhabit the area, but today we’d see the spectacular cliffs from a new perspective – from the North Sea, aboard the Yorkshire Belle which has been chartered for nearly 30 years by the RSPB for bird spotting trips

August is the season for the RSPB’s ‘Glorious Gannet Cruises’ and we’d booked a couple of tickets some months ago. The weather was as glorious as the advertised cruise when we arrived at Bridlington Harbour, and having climbed aboard the Yorkshire Belle we left port at 9am and headed north up the coast, passing by Flamborough Head as we did so. When we arrived at Bempton Cliffs we sailed close to the cliff face and from here we had a great view of the unique white chalk rock formations (which can only be seen from the sea as the area below the cliff is inaccessible from the land), as well as the nesting gannets. The gannet is our largest seabird with a wingspan of around 6 feet and there are about 11,000 pairs of these birds nesting on the cliffs

The boat then sailed out to sea for a short distance, and volunteer members of the RSPB started throwing dead mackerel into the sea, a practice known as chumming. Within seconds the first gannet appeared soon to be followed by hundreds more. It was an amazing sight to see these huge birds at close quarters diving head first into the sea at 60mph and battling each other for the spoils. Credit to Gilly for this video footage…

All too soon it was time to head back to harbour. The cruise had lasted for 3 hours which seemed to pass by in a flash. In addition to the gannets, there were plenty of other sightings which were all helpfully pointed out and identified by the RSPB volunteers – these included grey seal, fulmar, shag, arctic tern, oystercatcher, kittiwake, and a lone puffin. It was a wonderful trip which I can highly recommend.

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