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Bempton & Flamborough

A 6:00 start so a 5:15 alarm did nothing for the way I looked all day. What little hair I have left was stuck out like I'd been plugged into 240 volts and it was cold, very cold. We got to Bempton and surprisingly the first thing you noticed was the cold and the wind, ooo and the lack of people. There were birds though, hundreds of them, fledgling after fledgling and all making noise like their lives depended on it, fantastic, I was alive!.

We had a look around the bushes near the visitor centre for Goldcrest and maybe even a Firecrest, they had been seen in the previous week, but not today. Once I stood in the very same spot in the overflow car park looking out to sea and specifically a fast moving black cloud. This particular black cloud was moving towards me and it was Goldcrest, hundreds of Goldcrest.

We started walking down the hill towards the sea and could hear a Linnet but could not see anything, then as Linnet do, he went up to the highest point and I had him in my sight. Even from this distance we could hear the Gannets, now as many of you will know the main Gannet colony is a good 4 to 5 hundred meters to the right but it sounded like it was 10 paces in front of us.

As we got to the cliffs and looked over there were Gannets, hundreds if not thousands of them, Razorbills and Guillemots too. Has there been a huge population explosion? Im not sure but it did seem a little cramped and not as I remember. The noise was truly breathtaking, there is nothing like a good seabird colony to blow out the earwax and remind you that birds are wonderful, uplifting and inspiring.

We watched as the Gannets tore away the grasses from the cliffs, flew to their partners and give the vegetation to them to make the cliffs a better place to live. Was this coastal erosion we were witnessing as thousands of seabirds rip the grasses from the banks, well no not really. What was evident is the pair bonding, Gannet, Razorbill, Guillemot and Kittiwake all seemed to be busy with the business of being with, squabbling with or bill fencing with there beautiful partners, even a few Puffins too.
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We watched as the Gannets played in the extremely strong winds, they just look like they are doing it for fun and as you observe over time, small groups seemed to gather, then one bird would fly up and hover in the wind and land. Then another one from the same small group would do the same and so on and so on. Beautiful and almost prehistoric looking birds playing and practicing their flight in the winds, I could watch it all day.
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Now when it comes to the most preened of birds, the Giorgio Armani of birds the Guillemot has to fit the bill, especially if it's a Guillemot with its eye markings (Bridled) they just site themselves as if to look down on all that lay before them, majestically and magnificently they preen and clean almost constantly. Then when they fly its like a bullet no matter how much wind they just cut through, no hovering just the fastest way from A to B.

I suppose the same can be said for their cousins the Razorbill, I think all Auks are magnificent and among my favourite bird families.
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Above: Guillemots (Bridled)

Below: Razorbill
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Do you think some birds just fly for fun ?. I do.
Steve Farley
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We all have all time favourite birds and this is mine, the magnificent Fulmar. A superb flyer and a bird of the coast, often thought to be a mix between a Shearwater and a gull. Very distinctive with that beak but often misidentified. Almost gull-like, this grey and white seabird is related to the albatrosses. The fulmar flies low over the sea on stiff wings, gliding and banking to show its white underparts then grey upperparts.

At its breeding sites it will fly high up the cliff face, riding the updraughts. They will feed in flocks out at sea. They defend their nests from intruders by spitting out a foul-smelling oil and definitely not the friendliest of birds.

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Above: Puffin
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I think I must have led a very sheltered life as I can't remember ever seeing snails of this number taking refuge in this way, there were thousands of these in Flamborough. Every tree in a certain part of North Landing had snails in every crevice and many much higher than this one.
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Ok not the best shot of an Owl but this Tawny Owl was keeping very hidden in the cold winds, if you look very closely you can just make out an eye…I think.
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Above: Chiffchaff
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