Yorkshire Birdwatching Trip Seabirds Galore And Special Raptors

Gannets at Bempton on cliff

We have just returned from a wonderful four day Birdwatching Trip to Yorkshire. Picking up Anita and Chris in Llandudno, then Ray in Warrington we met up with Richard, Paul and Shirley in Howden, Yorkshire in time for a lovely lunch on Friday 6th July.

Great crested Grebe adult Aug 1

Great crested Grebes showed off at North Cave Wetlands YWT Reserve.

Our first birding stop was at North Cave Wetlands, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve, a man-made site from old gravel workings. These former industrial sites, now a haven for nature, give us some hope. It was very hot and not a cloud in the sky so we were glad of the shade provided by the hides overlooking the complex of pools on this big reserve. We enjoyed watching juvenile Mediterranean Gulls, recently fledged, amongst lots of young Black-headed Gulls. Both Great crested and Little Grebes showed well in the baking heat and we were surprised to see two Common Snipe out in the open.

Gannet Great Orme Sept 1

Gannets were passing Flambrough Head along with huge numbers of auks.

Next we drove to the coast and to our lovely accommodation near RSPB Bempton Cliffs, we settled in before going out for some pre-dinner birding on Flambrough Head, at North Landing we watched Puffins both on the water and on the white cliffs. We also walked down to the lighthouse and marvelled at the “motorway” of birds just offshore, thousands of birds flying to and from their nearby nesting sites. Alan picked out a skua, and through the Leica telescopes we were thrilled to watch a Long-tailed Skua, complete with that long tail fly past, wow! We had dinner in nearby Flambrough village, and a great meal it was.

Gannet in flight ML

The views of Gannets at RSPB Bempton Cliffs are just superb!

After an early breakfast we took the five minute drive down to RSPB Bempton Cliffs and what a stunning location this is. Towering sea-cliffs rise straight out of the blue North Sea and are alive with masses of birds! Where to look first? Thousands of Common Guillemots crowded the ledges, loads of Razorbills, masses of Kittiwakes many with well grown young, plenty of Puffins, a few Fulmars and thousands of Gannets what a show! We walked along the cliff top path taking in the magnificent scenery and the seabird city right below us just mind-blowing! Many of the birds were incredibly close so cameras were in over-drive and the birds posed in the hot sunshine. Puffins were the bird that everyone at the reserve really wanted to see and it was nice to share views of these comical auks with lots of folks. In addition to the amazing seabirds we had super views of a singing Grasshopper Warbler which Chris managed great photos of, plenty of Tree Sparrows here around the visitor centre – nice to see sadly gone from so many places. It was now very, very hot so we headed for lunch in nearby Buckton and then back to the lovely place we were staying for a break and to watch a certain football match that England were playing! Not something we would normally do but it was 29C and the quarter-final of the World Cup. In the evening we enjoyed a lovely meal in Bridlington.

Gannets on cliffs 1

Gannets in a row over sea 1

On Sunday, after breakfast, we drove north to an area of forested hills to look for some special birds. We arrived at the view point while it was still quite cool and set up ready for a long wait. We were well prepared with folding chairs for everyone, drinks, snacks and a picnic lunch. As it happened our wait was very short, Goshawk! A Goshawk was circling low over the forest off to our left from our panoramic viewpoint. Lucky this big powerful hawk stayed in view for a long time, flying just above the tree tops twisting and turning – wonderful start. Then the real stars of the show appeared – Honey Buzzards! The first bird we watched came right overhead and caught us by surprise, it was so close. Over the next few hours we enjoyed spectacular views of these rare raptors, at least three individuals, perhaps four, gave us an amazing show. The male Honey Buzzard displayed, against the blue sky, time and time again, often staying in view for ages at a time. Climbing very high he then moved across the sky clapping his wings high above his back over and over again, just magical to watch. We must have had Honey Buzzards, at least three probably four birds, in view for over an hour during the morning, way more than previous visits here. Crossbills, Siskins, Coal Tits and a very showy Tree Pipit kept us entertained when the buzzards were not in view. We enjoyed our picnic lunch before heading back for a break in the heat of early afternoon.

When it had cooled off a little we headed back down to RSPB Bempton cliffs for another sea-bird fix and again enjoyed the bustle of the colony. The flat calm sea was littered with birds, huge Gannets, masses of Guillemots and Razorbills, flocks of loafing Kittiwakes and of course Puffins. In the willows near the visitor centre we watched birds coming down to drink at a small pool. We had super views of Swallows, Tree Sparrows, Chiffchaffs and a brief visit by a Lesser Whitethroat – perhaps the same bird we had earlier heard singing by the car-park. Yellow Wagtails and Stock Doves added to the mix on a hot summer afternoon. In the evening we again enjoyed a lovely meal in Flambrough. On Monday we sadly said goodbye to the coast and headed west to RSPB Blacktoftsands reserve on the south shore of the Humber River. The birding started in the car park with a flock of 21 Long-tailed Tits showing off nicely and cameras were busy capturing these oh so cute birds feeding just feet away. At the reception hide we had one of those magical birding moments where everything happened at once. Ruff were feeding in the shallow pool just in front of the hide and as we watched them we picked out a Garganey feeding with Teal! Wow great bird. Bearded Tits then popped out onto the mud below the reeds and showed off. A Green Sandpiper was on the mud here too! A Hobby skimmed low over the reeds and luckily turned and came back to give us a second look. A pair of Marsh Harriers then appeared low over the reeds right in front of us and performed a food-pass, the male dropping prey and the female, below him, catching it, all this in just a few minutes! Amazing start to our visit to this great RSPB reserve. Moving on we explored the rest of the reserve where we watched Avocets with very cute chicks, four Greenshanks, a flock of Spotted Redshanks at least 21 of these lovely waders, more Green Sandpipers, more Ruff, lots more Marsh Harriers, Sedge and Reed Warblers and a brief view of a Cetti’s Warbler, Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings and more! Two Spoonbills showed off really well, a juvenile bird and an adult, wonder how far they had come to reach the reserve? All to soon it was time to head for lunch, very well pleased with our haul of great birds, and we returned to Howden for another lovely meal before saying our farewells to Richard, Paul and Shirley, we then dropped off Ray in Warrington and took Anita and Chris back to Llandudno where they were staying another night before heading off home.

A really super four day Birdwatching Trip with top quality birds, a lovely place to stay, great food and lovely company! Come and join our tours for really great experiences, email us here….


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