Sunday, June 15

Birds, blooms and a butterfly

If you read Martyn's blog you will know that on Thursday we had a day out to RSPB - Bempton cliffs and Flamborough Head (both on the east coast of Yorkshire). 
At this time if year thousands of seas birds head for the sheer chalk faces at Bempton to breed. The birds nest on seemingly impossible narrow ledges. Guillemots and razorbills don't build a nest and lay specially shaped eggs which are less likely to roll off the ledge.
Guillemots
The fledgling leave the nest before they can fly either by scrambling to the water or, in the case of the birds nesting higher on the cliff face, by taking a leap into the unknown.
Razorbills
The dominating sound as you approach the cliffs is the calling of thousands of kittiwakes interspersed by the growl like call of the razorbills. The kittiwakes are not very accommodating to the photographer as they either have their faces turned to the rock or have their heads tucked under their wings - fast asleep as they incubate their eggs, I guess they know they won't get much rest once the chicks hatch.
Kittiwakes
The largest nesting bird is the gannet making these birds easier to pick out on the rocks and to photograph.
Gannets
Spotting a puffin was at a premium. They nest below ground at the top of the cliffs and apparently most were tucked up on eggs. We did manage a glimpse or two of birds resting on the cliffs. Really these were impossible to spot with the naked eye and so the camera zoom doubled as a monocular.
Puffins
I couldn't resist a couple of flower shots - by far the easier subject.
Wild Angelica and Red Campion
After Bempton we moved along the coast to Flamborough Head which boasts two lighthouses. The old chalk light tower was built in 1674 and is the only surviving light tower in England. The 'new' lighthouse was built in 1806.
Lighthouse and Light Tower, Bottom left image has both in same shot.
Sea birds do nest on the cliffs here but the two birds that we spotted were skylarks and a meadow pipit. 
Flamborough Head
Unfortunately I didn't manage a shot of either although Martyn did manage a quick snap of a meadow pipit.
Meadow Pipit
At the top of the cliffs is grassland which is colonised by pyramid orchids amongst other wildflowers.
I was just getting my camera ready to take a shot of a lovely blue flower when the flowerhead flew off. It was a common blue butterfly.
We are now hoping for another lovely day so we can go back in a week or two and maybe see some nestlings or fledglings.

I have more photos of Bempton in a Flickr album here and Flamborough Head here just in case you haven't had enough!



26 comments:

  1. All the photo's are so beautiful and gorgeous.I love to see the bird's.

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  2. Lovely photos of the birds Sue, and the butterfly at the end might be common, but what a beautiful colour!

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    1. The butterfly really caught my eye, Helene

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  3. I'm intrigued about specially-shaped eggs that don't roll off ledges. What shape are they - cubes??

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    1. One end is pointed, Mark so that it rolls in a circle around the pointy end instead of rolling in a straight line and over the edge.

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  4. Lovely! Amazing photographs.

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  5. Cube shaped eggs also popped into my mind - glad to read I wasn't the only silly beggar :)
    What a great day out you both had. Great shots Sue, thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. That would really make the birds eyes water, Angie.

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  6. We went to Bempton cliffs a couple of years ago and for most of the time I stood with my mouth open at the wonderful sight of nesting birds and gannets diving. It was totally thrilling and has stayed in my memory as one of our bird watching highs (that and hearing Bitterns booming at Cley).

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    1. We've had a glimpse of a bittern on the water at an RSPB reserve fairly near to us at Old Moo, Elaine but no booming.



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    2. That's Old Moor, Elaine. Thinking of the Moo burger I had at the local farm shop cafe the other day!

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  7. I do believe with this post that your camera has just paid for itself

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    1. It was funny though, David being next to people with huge lenses firing off a noisy salvo. I've set my burst to silent as if Martyn is taking video at the same time as it doesn't spoil his films.

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  8. I was brought up not far from cliffs facing the Atlantic and the birds were just about the same - gannet, puffins, guillemots etc.

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    1. This is on the North Sea coast, Alain so they must prefer to face east.

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  9. Oh, wonderful shots of the birds Sue! What a fantastic experience to see them, if only in some cases through a long lens. I saw puffins at Sumburgh Head on Shetland. Wish it was nearer, I'd be back every week.

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    1. It doesn't capture the noise and the smell, Jessica which is as well.

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  10. Beautiful wildlife! Hey, the blue butterfly is really unusual! The wild flowers are so beautiful. I love it!

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    1. I did try to take other flowers, Endah but they wouldn't keep still enough in the sea breeze.

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  11. What a great trip you had! And photos - they're absolutely beautiful, I love the birds, you surely had to come close to them to take this great photos :)

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    1. Not close at all Dewberry - the birds were on the cliffs so well away from us. We had to watch from the cliff tops.A 60x zoom lens helps.

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  12. Wonderful photos. I wouldn't have known any of those birds, except the Puffin. I'm ok with garden birds but rubbish when it comes to anything else. Looks like you had good weather for your trip out.

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    1. It was a lovely day - we even had lemon meringue pie with ice cream sitting outside at Flamborough

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  13. Such an wonderful place to visit and have a rest! It must be very lovely day to spent there!

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