Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Visit to RSPB Bempton Cliffs

I paid a couple of visits to the RSPB Bempton Cliffs reserve last week with the primary aim to see and photograph Gannets. The first visit was late afternoon/early evening and the second one was in the evening. The visitor centre was either about to close or closed for both of these visits but a gate remains open down the side of the visitor centre for access to the cliffs.

This was my first visit to the reserve and on the first day I concentrated on the north half of the cliffs, but late in the day discovered a good group of Gannets high on the edge of the cliffs, just a few feet from the path. On the second visit I concentrated on this area where, with a bit of a breeze, Gannets were gliding past just a few feet away. I managed a reasonable selection of shots ranging from flight to behavioural.

Gannet with nest material

A pair billing as part of their pair bonding display.

Preening, keeping those flight feathers in tip top condition.

Preening on the nest.

Rows of Gannets on nests and a single chick on show.

Immature Gannet glides past

Adult Gannet glides past

An immature bird comes into land

Immature Gannet glides past

Gannets line up looking for a landing site

A squabble breaks out between neighbours

Gannet searching for a spot to land
 I found this pair and got a sequence of shots showing some lovely behaviour.

The second bird joined the first and they started billing as part of their pair bonding display.
Then they had a cuddle!

And finally they started sky pointing before one of the birds departed. 
I also found a Fulmar which was quickly joined by another. At first I thought they were arguing over that bit of the cliff but in the end it looked like they were a pair.
Fulmar on the cliff

An argument over cliff real estate.....

...or a pair greeting each other
As well as the iconic sea bird species it was pleasing to see so many Tree Sparrows around the reserve and I managed to grab a few shots of these lovely birds including one with a caterpillar, obviously feeding young.

Tree Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
This Meadow Pipit perched up on the flower heads in the meadow behind the visitor centre.
Meadow Pipit
Jackdaws were all over the place stalking the cliffs and car park for potential food. Anything from unguarded eggs and chicks to unguarded sandwiches!
Jackdaw stalking the cliffs
This little chap was a bit of a star performer during the first visit. Unfortunately I was a bit under gunned on the lens front so just a couple of record shots of this Grasshopper Warbler reeling in the meadow.
Grasshopper Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler