Seabird City!

Puffin by Mike Snelle

Atop 200 foot cliffs to rival any high-res metropolitan address, the sights, sound and smells of a seabird city brimming with gannets, fulmars, guillemots and gulls in residence is an amazing encounter – whatever your age or interest in nature!

WHAT WILL I SEE?

Puffins, gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars, shags, herring gulls

PROBABILITY OF SIGHTINGS

Sightings are guaranteed, providing you go at the right time of year. There are around 500 breeding pairs of puffins, so whilst they breed in burrows rather than on the cliff face you should be able to see a puffin if you look carefully enough. 

WHEN SHOULD I GO?

Best months: APRIL, MAY, JUNE.

Gannets are the first to arrive back on the headland, with other seabirds making their return from March. By mid-April the cliffs are packed with over 250,000 seabirds, and chicks start appearing by June. By mid-July the spectacle is really over, with seabirds starting to form large floating rafts on the sea before heading back out to sea where they spend the rest of the year. Gannets spend longer on the cliffs, and can be seen at RSPB Bempton Cliffs until mid-October.   

WHERE CAN I SEE THEM?

RSPB Bempton Cliffs is world famous for its seabirds and, with a visitor centre, pushchair accesible pathways and viewing platforms at the cliff's edge, one of the most accesible places to watch seabirds in the UK. Staff and volunteers based at the Seabird Centre and at the cliff top viewing platforms help visitors spot puffins amongst the thousands of gannets which make up the largest gannet colony in England, also a sight not to be missed. Daily 'Puffin Patrols' are held during the breeding season (small charge applies) which involve a 90 minute guided walk to spot these iconic seabirds and to learn more about the importance of the headland for conservation and the history of the cliffs.

YWT Flamborough Cliffs is a more rustic offering, but is still one of the best places on the English mainland to view puffins. Take a pair of binoculars and scan the cliffs either from the cliff top path or from the beach at North Landing. On weekends between March and June  'Peering at Puffin' volunteers set up viewing scopes to help vistors and passers by get a better view of these colourful seabirds.

There is only a 15 minute drive between RSPB Bempton Cliffs and YWT Flamborough Cliffs, or walkers will enjoy the 3 mile stretch of coastal footpath which links these two nature reserves.

WHAT ELSE CAN I SEE AND DO WHILST I'M THERE?

You don't have to have sea legs to watch seabirds (a unique feature for seabird watching in Yorkshire), but you are in for a treat if you head out on a boat trip. There are two different options for those looking for a different perspective on our nesting seabirds - choose between a traditional Yorkshire fishing coble or a pleasure cruiser.

  • Living Seas Safari boat trips are run by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Marine Team in partnership with a local fisherman aboard a traditional fishing boat which seats approximately 20 people. These hour long boat trips leave from North Landing Bay in YWT Flamborough Cliffs on selected weekends between April and June and take you north along the coast to see the amazing seabirds, as well as into a sea cave for a closer look at the marine wildlife on display. Booking in advance via Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's website is essential: www.ywt.org.uk/whats-on
  • The Yorkshire Belle is Bridlington's most famous pleasure cruiser, and during the breeding season runs daily 2 hour boat trips from Bridlington harbour which go around the headland to RSPB Bempton Cliffs (no landing). Seating approximately 200 people, bookings can be made by directly contacting the harbour office: www.yorkshire-belle.co.uk

I'VE SEEN THE SEABIRDS AND HAD A BOAT TRIP, WHAT NEXT?

There is absolutely loads to do on the Flamborough Headland - you might need a weekend or even two to take it all in!

Having enjoyed RSPB Bempton Cliffs and YWT Flamborough Cliffs, head over to the south side of the Flamborough headland to YWT's Living Seas Centre, the only marine centre dedicated to the fascinating marine wildlife of the North Sea. Take part in an event, or go for a walk around the adjacent South Landing Nature Reserve which is always rich in birdlife.

The Flamborough Outer Headland Nature Reserve, at the tip of the headland, is another great place for birdlife and has the added attraction of the Flamborough Lighthouse. Open during school holidays and at weekends between April and September (always closed on Friday), it is worth heading in a for a 20 minute guided tour to climb the 119 steps to the top for breathtaking views.

Families will love the grounds, hall and zoo at Sewerby Hall and Gardens, just a 10 or 15 minute drive from the north side of the headland.