Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Early (ish) one morning on Bempton Cliffs!

Immature (1st winter) Kittiwake

I decided that both myself and Symphony needed a good walk so we headed up to Bempton Cliffs at 0700hrs. Walking up Cliff Lane, a few Yellowhammers flitted around the hedgerows and Lapwings displayed to each other on the flooded fields. Nearer the reserve, several Reed Buntings were seen included this pair near Grandstand viewpoint.

Reed Bunting

The day held the promise of spring with blue skies, sunshine and a light blow and continued until cloud increased late afternoon. The cliffs held Kittiwakes, Gannets, Herring Gulls and Fulmar but were Auk less with only an occasional Guillemot being seen in flight. I decided to concentrate on birds in flight - not an easy task with Symphony in tow!


Marmite Gull - actually Herring Gull but you either like them or hate them! I like them!

At Bartlett Nab, I managed to find a "Blue Fulmar" that hung around for a while! Unfortunately no images, but did manage some of the resident Fulmars.

Of course, a Gannet


When Kittiwakes "gape", I think they resemble vampires! Not sure why!

Monday, 26 March 2018

A lovely day on the cliffs! 25th March 2018.

Welcome back! You have been missed!

What a fantastic day! Blue sky, sunshine, light north westerly blow - a perfect early spring day! The birds also did us proud with all of Bempton's famous eight breeding birds on the cliffs (Puffin, Fulmar, Gannet, Herring Gull, Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake and Shag). In the morning, I led a "welcome tour" of the cliffs for 18 lovely people and in the afternoon had great fun with a large group of German school children, trying to get them on Puffins, with a language barrier! As always the outcome was successful!

So what was about today?

Although we have seen a small number of Puffins on the sea, today they chose to access the cliffs (in small numbers)

"I may be small, but I'm not scared of you"!

The Puffin is a red listed bird with a UK population of c580,000 pairs. The Bempton and Flamborough population numbers c 2879 individuals (2017). This small seabird measures only 20cm (8 inches) in height, yet spends all of the non breeding periods out on the North Sea and Atlantic. Puffins at Bempton and Flamborough do not nest in traditional cliff top burrows due to shallow soil, erosion and predation. Instead they seek out natural tunnels in the chalk rock to lay their one egg which weighs in at c51grams equating to 15% of the females body weight!

The Kittiwake numbers are continuing to increase

The Kittiwake is unfortunately a red listed bird due to its declining population and is a high conservation concern. It is thought that the Kittiwake is the most numerous gull in the world, but the British population has declined by 50% in the last 25years. The British population is c370,000 pairs with c 51,535 pairs ( c3% of the UK breeding population) (2017) at Bempton / Flamborough. These delicate birds will have returned from there wintering grounds around Newfoundland and south west Greenland. The state of the colony reflects the health of the North Sea - Kittiwakes are surface feeders, reliant on sand eels and other small fish which depend on a healthy ocean. Healthy oceans produce phytoplankton which is eaten by zooplankton which the small fish feed on.

The Razorbill is green listed, (least conservation concern), with a British population of c110,000 and a local population of c 30,218 (2017). Often confused with Guillemots, the plumage is jet black with a white underbelly and distinctive white stripes on the chunky bill and face. The chicks (as with Guillemots) are known as "jumplings", three weeks after hatching, they jump off the cliff (before they are even able to fly) and are joined by the male who swims with the youngster out to sea. The male bird teaches the necessary life skills before the jumpling fledges after another 4 - 6 weeks.

It should be remembered that there are no guarantees in nature and birds may leave the cliffs in favour of the sea.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Bridlington Harbour - 19th March 2018


Bridlington Harbour produced some great birds yesterday - Grey Phalarope, Little Gull and Long Tailed Duck! Unfortunately, I couldn't get down there. I did make the effort early this morning in the hope that these birds would continue to enjoy the safety from the sea enormously powerful waves. There was no sign of the Long Tailed Duck, I missed the Grey Phalarope when it flew south seconds before I arrived, But I did manage to touch base with two Little Gulls.

Consolation was in the form of a Shag in breeding plumage!

Several Kittiwakes were taking shelter with some looking rather worse for wear courtesy of the weather.

The tide had peaked but no mud for waders yet. These Redshanks and Turnstone enjoyed a "group hug"!

The Redshanks became quite flighty but eventually settled

And several Purple Sandpipers mingled

A Rock Pipit flitted between the harbour structures, landing only briefly, but I was ready!

I bet the Grey Phalarope is re-located later!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Atmospheric Power of Nature! Bempton Cliffs - 18th March 2018

From Grandstand

I could only make for a short visit to the cliffs today but what a morning to enjoy the atmospheric power of nature! Some wintery showers greeted my arrival with a very strong easterly blow doing its best to challenge the few brave souls making it onto the cliff path and viewpoints. All of the seabirds had left the cliffs for the safety of the sea but a few could be seen in flight. Best bird of the morning was a very pale Barn Owl quartering the fields between the visitor centre and ruins of RAF Bempton.

Due to the weather, the sightings board is a little Spartan!

Standing on the view points you could feel the power of the sea as the waves battered the base of the cliffs 400ft below! The best part of today was the atmospheric light combined with nature's power, where else would you want to be?!

These cliffs are normally white with Gannets, returning to their nests. Today, the white was a dusting of snow!

This rather icy spectacle, off Grandstand, will be home to nesting Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills. All that is needed is some warm weather!

And finally, I don't think this will apply for a while!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Barn Owl, Bempton Cliffs - 13th March 2018

It's always a pleasure to see a Barn Owl! This is one of two birds currently being observed close to the visitor centre on Bempton Cliffs. One is a very pale bird!