A Yorkshire Wildlife Bonanza


A Gannet glances at me as it soars along the clifftops at RSPB Bempton Cliffs.

Prologue to a series of blog posts.

This is the first blog post I am writing concerning this years "Three Amigos" trip to a very picturesque East Riding in Yorkshire,England. For a number of years Nicola Johns, Paul Joy and me have been discussing visiting the RSPB reserve  at Bempton Cliffs. We have heard some many good things about the reserve and surrounding area its been one of those locations on all of our bucket lists of must see places.

In 2020 we had planned to stay in Bridlington and go on a boat trip to watch Gannets but unfortunately the pandemic occurred and Covid 19 prevented us travelling to Yorkshire, or even out of Wales at that time. For the last couple of years we have travelled to Pembrokeshire and done an annual pilgrimage to Skomer but whilst we all love that Island we all fancied a change of scene for 2023. So earlier this year we started to make plans.

I was to be the designated driver and the planner for the boat trip, Paul took on the role of organising the accommodation and being my navigator , Nicola was in charge in keeping Paul and I under control with a good dosage of good sense as us chaps can get a rather too excited at times and being our back up navigator -Thanks the heavens ; )

On Monday this week the Three Amigos hit the road and began what was going to be an outstanding adventure in East Ridings and the wide Yorkshire area. Our expectations were absolutely blown away and we got to see so much wildlife, a single blog post just will not do it any justice.

There are just so many things to write about I really don't know where to start. Perhaps its best to begin with a few summary points and stats -

  • I drove over 700 miles
  • We walked over 20 miles
  • A total of 87 species of birds were spotted.
  • Two lifer species - Tree Sparrows and Common Scotters were ticked.
  • Six wildlife reserves were visited.
  • Six species of mammals were observed.
  • Got lost walking once - I will own up to that
  • Lost our way driving even with multiple GPS and human navigator - at least twice :)
  • Coffee and Cakes (Number redacted as Paul is on a strict diet! - officially we did not have any).
  • At least 20000 pictures taken.
  • Two drone flights.
  • I did not need an alarm clock throughout the entire trip as "Billy no mates" the farmyard Cockerel woke me up every morning on time.
  • At least two impulse buys , consisting of a soft toy Gannet and a life size plastic Puffin.
  • After visiting our final reserve of our trip I left with over twenty mosquito bites on one leg!
I am going to kick off with just a few pictures  and a little narrative and expand further in later blog posts.

One of the key things that made the trip so good was that we had great accommodation. Big thanks to Paul for finding the West End Farm Lodge on Airbnb. An absolute gem of  place to stay at in a great location about a twenty minute drive away from Bridlington and Bempton Cliffs. We met the owner Jo who gave us a lovely welcome pack of local Yorkshire produce, which all went down well very nicely.
I would whole heartedly recommend staying in this ideally situated, comfortable and well furnished cottage.
West End Farm Lodge

A dronescape taken from the fields near the lodge at Thornholme near Burton Agnes East Riding Yorkshire.

There were two species of birds that were our targets for the trip :
  1. Tree Sparrows. A lifer species of all of us.
  2. Gannets. A huge seabird that none of us have ever seen close up.
Within thirty minutes of visiting the wonderful RSPB Bempton Cliffs we had ticked off both bird species and achieved our targets.

Tree Sparrow

Gannets pair for life . In this picture they are performing their bonding ritual. Their chick is in the foreground.

All of us were very impressed by how accessible the reserve is and how good the viewing platforms are.

A big highlight of our trip was the RSPB Boat Trip on the Yorkshire Belle. This was a fantastic trip and the views of diving Gannets were practically point blank. We really enjoyed talking to the very knowledgable and friendly volunteers.

I just could not believe the views we had of the Gannets diving for mackerel that was thrown to them from the boat.

The Yorkshire Belle at Bridlington Harbour just before our departure.

A diving sequence of a Gannet captured using my Nikon D850 and Sigma C 150-600mm

A massive highlight for me was the beautiful the landscape in Yorkshire is and how friendly the people we spoke to were. I was quite taken aback by how wonderful the countryside was and I have never seen so many Brown Hares in my life outside Norfolk.

Closeup to a Brown Hare.

A beautiful field near Middleton-on-the wolds. The purple crop is Borage being grown to attract Bees that are kept in nearby hives and will help to pollinate all the various crops.

Most of all the best bit of the trip was the company of my good friends friends. As ever the Three Amigos had a wonderful time , shared lots of brilliant experiences and takeaway with us lots of memories and thousands of pictures :)

Lots more to follow in some more dedicated posts to follow.


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