A Trip to Bempton Cliffs

9 August 2021

Over the past year I have been craving the sea, as there's just something about being by the sea that makes me feel so calm and peaceful. So I thought I would treat myself to a trip to the coast, but tie that in with a trip to RSPB Bempton Cliffs, a place I had been meaning to visit for a while. Bempton Cliffs is located on the Yorkshire Coast, it's spectacular chalk cliffs become home to a large number of seabirds that you can see gathering at the cliffs between March and October to raise their young. 

The night before I had checked the RSPB website for any events going on and saw that there was going to be a 'Moth Morning' event going on in the morning for National Moth Week. Of course I didn't want to miss that, so I got up early and set off to get to Bempton Cliffs for the event. The event was taking place at the back of the visitor centre and a team of RSPB staff had their professional moth trap out, that they had set the night before, ready for the moths to be identified and then released. I was very excited to see moths that I have never seen before such as the garden tiger, spectacle, common wainscot, snout, common footman and many more. We lifted up one of the egg boxes inside the trap and found a beautiful poplar hawk-moth! I'd seen photos of this moth beforehand, but couldn't quite believe how large it was. The team very kindly allowed me to release it and so I held it on my hand and felt it's long legs grip around my fingers and then I set it down in the wildflowers behind us. 

I watched as swallows and tree sparrows flew around the visitor centre. I don't get to see tree sparrows where I live and so that was such a lovely sight to see. From the visitor centre, I set off towards the cliffs to check out each of the viewing platforms. I could hear a chorus of gannets, kittiwakes and gulls as they soared across the sea and back towards the rocky cliff faces to their young. I couldn't believe just how many seabirds were crammed on the ledges of the cliffs and the noise was incredible, especially the gannets taking over with their loud, continuous call reverberating around the whole of the cliffs. 

I took a slow stroll up to one end of the cliffs and then back down again to the other side, stopping at each of the viewing platforms to watch the seabirds. The surrounding grassland above the cliffs was beautiful, surrounded in an abundance of wildflowers and tall grasses swaying in the coastal breeze. There were hundreds of ringlet butterflies, I've never seen so many of them! Skippers, small tortoishells and large whites were also spotted basking in the sunshine and collecting nectar from thistles and ragwort.

I found a quiet spot for lunch on the edge of the cliffs, it was so peaceful to sit and watch the seabirds soaring above the cliffs and across the sea. I kept my eyes peeled for the black-browed albatross, which has been a rare sighting over the past month or so, but unfortunately it kept appearing in a location when I was elsewhere along the cliffs. I took a slow stroll back to the visitor centre to walk around one of the smaller nature trails where I spotted the tree sparrows having a bath in the little pond near the woodland. 

I came back again the next day before setting off back home. I got to the reserve early in the morning to find an eerie mist blanketed across the cliffs. Once the mist cleared and the morning sunshine shone through the cracks in the clouds, I spent some time walking along the cliff top trail to take in the views across the sea. I fell in love with this place from the moment I first set foot on the reserve, I look forward to visiting again at some point soon.

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