Gannet (c) Martin Batt
Each spring, a quarter of a million birds flock to the spectacular cliffs and begin a life or death struggle to raise their young on the narrow ledges. This bird’s eye view of a breathtaking wildlife spectacle never fails to delight visitors, with staff and volunteers always on hand for guidance.
One of the best places in the UK to see our ocean-going birds, RSPB Bempton Cliffs is one of the most famous nature reserves in Yorkshire. The Seabird Centre offers visitors close up views via CCTV cameras installed on the cliff. Hedgerows around the visitor centre and trails are also home to rare farmland birds like the tree sparrow and corn bunting.
Where is it?
Cliff Lane, Bempton, Bridlington YO15 1JD, 01262 422212 (OS Landranger 101 Grid Reference TA 197738)
When is the best time to visit?
Spring: Breeding seabirds return, including gannet, puffin, guillemot, razorbill, fulmar, kittiwake, herring gull and shag. Farmland birds such as skylark, linnet, meadow pipit, reed and corn buntings abound and there are usually kestrels and perhaps a peregrine too. Keep a look out across the fields for brown hare and the occasional roe deer and fox.
Summer: The seabird breeding season peaks with 200,000 seabirds with eggs or chicks. Tree sparrows use nest boxes around the reserve and the songs of whitethroat, grasshopper and sedge warbler join the chorus of resident birds. A range of butterflies can be enjoyed and carpets of red campion and orchid add colour to the clifftop. Keep an eye out in particular for the stunning bee orchid.
Autumn: With breeding season all but over, the last faithful gannets remain at the nest. As autumn migration gets into full swing, thousands of thrushes arrive from Scandinavia and flocks of pink-footed geese make their way overhead. Migrant warblers, flycatchers and chats can all be found and offshore, Manx and sooty shearwater, arctic and great skua may be seen in strong NW winds.
Winter: Bracing cliff top walks and fantastic seascapes are among the best in Yorkshire. Short-eared owls spend the winter here, though in poor 'vole years’ there may only be a handful. By January gannets will return in good numbers and keep an eye out on the sea for passing porpoises and grey seals. The feeding station always attracts tree sparrows and finches.