Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Long Road to Bempton

A six hour drive to meet brother, followed by another couple of hours to get to the camp site, close to Bempton and its cliffs, that would be our home for the next couple of days. The next morning we were up at four o'clock and walked the short distance across the fields to the cliffs that run from Flamborough Head to Bempton on theYorkshire coast.
For anyone interested in wildlife, getting up and about before the sunrise is always a special time and this occasion didn't disappoint. As the Sun broke through a distant band of cloud its warmth was instantly apparent and the light (perfect for photographers) just gets better and better. It is not for nothing that we call this The Golden Hour.
 The first thing that struck us when we approached the near vertical cliffs was the silence! Considering this place is home to some 250,000 seabirds there was little or no sign of them until that is you reach the cliff edge and then the sound explodes. Even at a time when the sun had barely started to warm the chill from the nights air, birds spun and soared at every level making good use of the thermals. On the sea itself, hundreds if not thousands of Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins sat bobbing and bathing seemingly enjoying the chance to get away from the constant battle of bringing up junior on the cliff wall.
For now though, I will concentrate on the bird that I had travelled so far to get closer too, the Gannet!
Ice-white, with jet black wing tips (that can often reach some two meters span) a strong slender neck of pale gold and a painted face that would make Cleopatra envious.

The Gannet is one of our most beautiful birds, combine this with the perfect light of the golden hour and the effect is magical. These birds seem to love the Sun and could often be seen stretching and holding their heads almost in reverence to the growing warmth.

 From the cliff edge, the sound and sight of so many birds is awe inspiring! There is a constant swirl of birds flying along the cliffs as well as too and from the cliffs out to sea. Squables between these birds seem to be constant and life on the cliff edge is far from peaceful.

 Photographs of the Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Puffins will follow on the next posts, there really is no end to the amount of shots that can be taken as the action changes all of the time. Watching inland is hardly boring either, as apart from the many Skylarks, Tree Sparrows and Reed Warblers that added their own soundtrack, we were joined by a couple of Barn Owls and a lone Marsh Harrier! Not a bad few of days by all accounts.

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