So this is my first real post about birding! Woo-hoo!
The other week I was on holiday in York with my Mum. Now, York isn’t exactly a birding haven (the history of the place is amazing though!) but it is not to far from a couple of great Yorkshire birding spots e.g. Filey & Bempton Cliffs RSPB.
We only went birding twice in the holiday (Sunday & Wednesday) but they were good days. On the Sunday we went to the small sea side town of Filey which has two main birding hot spots: Filey Brigg, a spit of land that goes out in to the sea, and Filey Dams, a small nature reserve on the opposite side of Filey. For more information check out the Filey Birding Webpage.
We set off early in the morning on a Coastliner bus from York which takes about 1 hour 30 mins to get to Filey. When we arrived I decided that the best place to start would be the Brigg, so we set off down to the beach! Filey is a picturesque little place on the East Yorkshire coast but is also a rather busy tourist attraction so there were a lot of people on the beach and the Brigg itself.
Beach and Town
So, we walked along the beach and to the Brigg to find that the tide had began to come in and that the ‘brilliant array of birds at the end of the Brigg’ as one birder had put it, had flown away. So the Brigg off the schedule, well it felt like the day was over, I was totally gutted! So we wandered back to the center of Filey wondering what to do… then I remembered there was still Filey Dams! So we set off to the other side of Filey through some lovely suburban bungalows, eventually arriving in the small car park at the entrance to the reserve. We then set of down one of the two paths to the first hide, the hides themselves were very nice with cushioned seats and large hatches, to be greeted by a nice array of birds.
Juv. Ringed Plover
As I looked out I noticed the large number of waders, my favorite type of bird; I was very happy to see Greenshanks because I haven’t seen them for so long so it was really good. I then spotted the Green Sandpipers feeding around the water’s edge. They were then accompanied by a Common Sandpiper, another bird I hadn’t seen for a while. It was like wader-mania! My mum then spotted a Juvenile Ringed Plover which she was very pleased about. There were Bar Tailed Godwits further in the back ground with Greater Black Backed, Lesser Black Backed, Herring & Black Headed Gulls. Also, there was a small bird table with a Dunnock sat there happily gorging itself.
Dunnock on feeder.
We then moved on to the second hide which also was teaming with waders, especially Ringed Plovers and Dunlins, which gave some great photo opportunities.
Ahhh, that's the spot!
Then something very exciting happened in an owl box across from the hide; My mum had been watching it for several minutes saying that something was moving in side, I was doubtful and just put it down to bad visibility etc. Well how wrong was I.
Hmmm, weather seems OK. Should I fly though?
Nah, I'm to lazy to fly and entertain the watching birders! Muwhahaha!
So, he/she (I’m not sure?) decided I’m not gonna fly for Sean but still a great experience and very exciting for my mum as this was the first owl she’d ever seen.
On our second birding adventure, Wednesday, we went to Bempton Cliffs RSPB which is an amazing reserve on the Yorkshire East coast which is the only inland place in the UK where Gannets have nested. Between April and August they there are circa 200,000 sea birds on the cliffs there, it is absolutely mind-blowing!
Me and my mum ended up getting to Bempton by luck to be honest. We had returned to Filey with the intentions of checking out the Brigg and going to the Dams reserve again but out of curiosity I dragged my mum in to Filey tourist information centre and I instantly zoned in on the RSPB leaflets on one of the stands. So, I took it to the counter and asked about how to get there, I was duly given all the information need to get there and I am very appreciative of the staff there who were very useful. So we had to get a train from Filey train station, an extremely small and quant little station with a taxi office that sold free range eggs, to Bempton village. When we arrived there we had to walk for about 1.5 miles to the reserve, passing a farm that had Llamas , until we got in to the car park. By now it had began to rain rather heavily so we sought refuge in the RSPB centre were I was filed in on the birds there and what to luck out for by the great team there. Unfortunately I had turned up a little to late in the year for Puffins, a bird I really wanted to see this year but you can’t win ‘em all, but there was still a great selection off birds out there. Firstly, we went to the feeding station behind the centre and saw some lovely Tree Sparrows and the brilliant behavior of an adult Blackbird feeding a juvenile. Then we trudged through the mud to the cliffs and what I saw…… well…… took my breath away, as did the smell. Thousands of sea birds flying around or clinging on to the cliffs, most on nests, with in two seconds I had to new species: Gannet & Kitiwake. The Gannets were absolutely amazing soaring along the cliffs and perching on the smallest of ledges with there black fluffy chicks
One of the smaller groups of Gannets.
A rather gorgeous Gannet.
I wouldn't sleep on a cliff edge. Then again I'm not a gannet.
Was I watching the chick or was the chick watching me...?
That's a fair few Gannets and that's only a small section of the cliffs.
Then there were the Kittiwakes. A lot of them were juveniles, some taking one of there first shaky flights, but there were still a lot of nests being tended to by the adults.
Lovely pose from the Kitiwake. Also notice the Feral Pigeon, there were loads of them.
On a nest.
So, I was very happy! Within less than an hour I had seen two new species and was having a great time.
As me and my mum were walking to another viewing platform something flew past. Small, white head, grey bad and gull like. What was that!?! Hmmmm, was it what I think it was? A Fulmar…?
A Fulmar and it's incredibly cute chick!!!
Woop! Another new species! What a way to end the day!
This is why I am birder. Because of experiences like that.
It was a great, great holiday and I would definitely go again!
I’d also recommend both places to anyone, serious birder or not.