Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Monday, 11 December 2017

A Spectaculary Quiet Day at Bempton Cliffs! 10th December 2017.

Fulmar

With snow being forecast, I had one aim today - photographing Guillemots in the snow! A light flurry of c3 flakes was not what I wanted but the Guillemots were more obliging! First thing there were c400 Guillemots around Grandstand viewpoint, increasing to c1000 on the cliffs, sea and in flight between Grandstand and Bartlett Nab. These numbers decreased to nine on Grandstand and c20 on Bartlett Nab during the afternoon. Fulmars were also in good number with a late afternoon count of c142! These fantastic birds gave aerial displays in the strengthening north easterly blow.

So, what was about today?


Fulmars





Some of the Guillemots (minus the snow!)

Just making sure we have all angles covered!

Bridled Guillemot

Comparison!

Some of the gang!

It was a bit of a dull, grey day but these Goldfinches did their best to brighten things up!



Gannets can usually be seen in small numbers at this time of year in flight but will not come back to the cliffs until late January / early February


A year one Gannet was not expected! Probably wishing it was off the west coast of Africa!



Stonechat


Dramatic views towards Flamborough headland



The waves crashing against the cliffs 400ft below were quite spectacular, their force was so great it was possible to feel them thudding!





Guillemots in the snow will have to wait for another day!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Guillemots and Fulmar on the Cliffs at Bempton!

Guillemots visiting the ledges!

I haven't been onto the cliffs for three weeks due to various other commitments so on this fine day of blue sky and sunshine, I decided to see what was about. My last visit in November yielded naked cliffs but today the guttural sounds and sight of thousands of Guillemots on the cliff ledges, in flight and on the sea was a delight to enjoy! However, it is known that Guillemots return to the ledges during the winter months, sometimes for a few hours, a day or several days before heading back out to sea. There are many ideas / speculation as to why this happens highlighting how little is known about the lives of our seabirds. It is known that some start to make short visits to colonies from as early as October at some sites, but they are most abundant in mid-winter. Those that start to visit the cliffs immediately start their part-moult back into their breeding plumage. Studies have shown that the birds returning to the breeding sites are the adult males and females with the younger birds staying out at sea. Mike Harris et al have surmised that competition for high quality nest sites is the most likely reason for winter visits and this can be related to the moult back into summer plumage perhaps for courtship or defence of the nesting site. I'm certain that many other theories exist!

So what else has been seen at Bempton?


Today's Guillemots in varying plumages!








As well as the Guillemots, Fulmars are also on the cliffs, in flight and on the sea. This is one at it's regular nest site.


Remember, though that there are no guarantees in nature - "expect the unexpected"!