Friday, 5 July 2013

Bird Watching in Bridlington

I look forward to visiting my Mum this time of year, and so I am back in Bridlington where she lives, a holiday destination for many Yorkshire folk on the North Sea coast.

I'm with my Mum at the seaside, so what better way to relive childhood memories than go for a trip around the bay on the Yorkshire Belle!

The Yorkshire Belle
The Yorkshire Bell has been sailing daily from Bridlington Harbour for as long as I can remember, taking sight-seers up the coast past the lovely chalk cliffs of Bridlington Bay, and around Flamborough Head, sometimes as far as the spectacular seabird colonies of Bempton Cliffs. But we hadn't been on it for more decades than I care to recall, so we were excited at the trip. We might even get to see some puffins!

Bridlington Harbour
You certainly get a good view of the cliffs north of Bridlington. They might not be quite as awesome as the cliffs on the island of Rügen, but they do make this one of the most scenic stretches of Yorkshire coastline.
The cliffs of Bridlington Bay
Soon enough we were rounding Flamborough Head, where brutal North Sea storms regularly bash holes into the soft chalk, creating gothic arches and caves with legends of smugglers and pirates.

Flamborough Head
And suddenly, there they are! A whole city of seabirds nesting on the cliffs like they were tower blocks.

Kittiwakes at the top, guillemots at the bottom.
The social order of the bird world.
Here kitti, kitti, kitti!
You might also be able to spot a few cormorants at the bottom
Guillemot's chillaxing
The noise they make is deafening, calling out to their partners and fledglings and each other as they wheel around in the air, taking fish back to their precipitous nests.

Yet more kittiwakes
They congregated in their thousands, not just on the sheer cliffs and in the air, but also on and below the sea.
If you have never experienced a sea-bird colony then I recommend it for your bucket list. You might think you know what to expect from watching TV programmes presented by the likes of Bill Oddie, but the reality is of such noise and such seeming chaos that it overwhelms your senses.

I swear there are some pterodactyls up there!
Certainly, quite a few giant-winged gannets.
Every narrow ledge is occupied from the top of the cliffs right to the bottom. There is even a nest on the pinnacle of the limestone stack in this photo - on top of a car-wheel would you believe?
High-rise Living, seabird style.
Look, I'll zoom in so you can see. The car-wheel was put there as an exercise by the RNLI in precision helicopter positioning skills.

Seabird nest on a car-wheel on a limestone stack.
And so we headed back to Bridlington Harbour, with time enough to relax and enjoy the views. And give our ears a rest.

Sea-birds looking for a free meal around a crab-pot boat
Dane's Dyke, a Celtic if not neolithic earthwork that defensively cuts off the Flamborough peninsular.
Nothing to do with the Danes/Vikings though.
The spire of Trinity church and the hotels of Alexandra Parade tells us we will soon be back in Bridlington
What a lovely way to spend an afternoon; out on the calm, blue sea on a sunny day. And yes, we did spot some puffins, even if I didn't get a photo of them (or maybe I did, hidden away in the thousands of other sea-birds).

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