After a mid week weather check I decided, my wife’s approval of course, to go to Bempton Cliffs for the weekend. The weather forecast looked great sunny intervals on Saturday and unbroken sunshine all day Sunday, perfect for some seabird photography I thought.
I arrived at the campsite on Friday evening on a lovely night to be greeted by the Skylarks melodic tune drifting loudly over the fields into the campsite. Upon waking at my 7.15am alarm to get to Bempton as early as possible I was greeted by this sight from my motorhome window.
Day 1 – I got to the reserve at about 9am still to be shrouded by the sea mist so after a quick walk into the centre and I decided to sit it out in the van and await the sun breaking through and burn off the mist. Well after listening to the radio watching a Lee Evans DVD and making then eating my lunch the mist was still there unabated, so I chose to take a walk, I bumped into Steve Race reserve volunteer and well known renowned local wildlife photographer, Steve said the mist may go but not until mid to late afternoon. I left Steve with his group of birders who he was taking on photography workshop on the cliffs for a few hours, now that would surely be difficult due to the weather.
The photo above was my view at just before 1pm walking to the cliffs, it go no better really for the next 90 minutes I was on the reserve, I took a total of 36 photos mainly to see if I could get one that captured the mood of the day.
There were plenty of nesting material gathering Gannets close in an I managed this pleasing image.
I saw all the usual seabirds in the fog and a few very low flying Swallows too sometimes a couple of feet off the ground. I returned to the van and awaited the sun to come out to play. I waited and waited and about 4pm decided to call it a day and return to the campsite about 4 miles away hoping weather would be better the next day.
Day 2 – I set my alarm the previous night for 7am in the hope I would be greeted with a nice sunny clear skied morning and sure enough it was a lovely summer morning, so I got my breakfast, ablutions and packed my van cables etc. away and got into the reserve car park for 8.15am. A few folks were already there and after making myself a cuppa and doing a little people watching I headed off to the cliffs at around 9am. I again bumped into Steve Race and after a couple of minutes of mainly weather related stuff off I went and as I got nearer to the cliffs the mistier it got, oh no not again!
I walked around the reserve for about 3 hours snapping when I could in the clearing light and space in between the banks of sea mist but it never really improved until about 1pm. I saw a Short Eared Owl in the distance hunting near the reserve visitor centre before Crows mobbed it, drove it upwards then away out of sight.
A Sparrowhawk drifted above me and 2 couples as I was talking to them about the SEO I had just spotted.
I had taken my lunch in my motorhome at around 12.15pm and had an hour relaxing before venturing out in the improving conditions. This time it looked more promising as I made my way down the track to the cliffs and viewing points.
Conditions got better then the mist came back then went away etc. etc. but birds were seen and images taken 🙂
Pre-mating wars and mating games were being played out all over the cliffs, got a few pics of the action which can be seen below.
I also saw 2 Bridled Guillemot, which was nice!
I saw along with the usual Seabird stars, SEO, Sparrowhawk, Whitethroat, Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, and possibly a Rock Pipit during my wanderings.
This time all was good with the images in this post being some of the better ones taken, I stayed until about 3pm as I had to drive home.
Not the best 2 days birding but still managed to enjoy it!
Bempton Cliffs is certainly a place not to be MISTED!
More images in similarly worded blog on my website can be seen here >> http://www.stevenesbitt.co.uk/blog/2016/5/nearly-mist-the-seabirds