A Grand Day Out–a flock of seagulls (and a few puffins) at Bempton Cliffs

There seemed to be a lot of puffins in the media this year. Every time we opened a newspaper or a magazine, there seemed to be a puffin lurking somewhere, flashing its plumage and showing off its beak of many colours. Which is why we eventually got around to asking Uncle Google where we could see puffins, expecting to be offered far-flung Scottish isles and other exotic locations. Actually, it turns out that one of the best places for puffin spotting (outside the paperback book section in the children’s library) is right here in God’s Own County.

Bempton CliffsBempton Cliffs

I had never even heard of Bempton Cliffs, which are on the East Coast of Yorkshire, north of Flamborough Head. That’s an easy day trip for us, so I took Mr TLC for a birthday excursion earlier this summer.

Bempton CliffsBempton Cliffs

Entering the RSPB reserve at Bempton feels like wandering into a programme by David Attenborough. It’s hard to convey the sheer numbers of birds. They are everywhere – wheeling in the air, calling out to each other, fishing on the sea and packed together as they perch precariously on the cliff faces. I suppose heights aren’t scary when you can fly.

Bempton CliffsBempton Cliffs

We went to Bempton for the puffins – and we did see some of these excellent little birds – but it was the gannets, kittiwakes and guillemots that stole the show. The gannets were easily my favourites, they don’t seem to be the most photogenic of birds, but there were incredibly graceful and also very tolerant of human observers.

Bempton CliffsBempton Cliffs

The only downside is that with so many birds, a rather pungent smell is inevitable. A great place for a day out, but perhaps best to eat your picnic lunch some distance away from the cliffs.

The puffins have probably all headed out to sea for now, but we will definitely be returning before the end of the summer – and before the reserve closes for development work in September. This really was a grand day out, if you are in the area, it is well worth a visit.

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