Sunday, 18 July 2021

Romantic weekend in Yorkshire

💕 Some people are so cynical, last Wednesday I came home from work and said to Margie, "how do you fancy a romantic weekend away in Yorkshire💔" Margie's reply?  "what bird is it?" To be fair she has been hurt before with "romantic" trips to sewage works, dung-heaps and the like!😂. After much protestations about hurt feelings and such like, I eventually confessed that there was a Black-browed Albatross at Bempton Cliffs that I would like to go and see!! It had been there for a while and had been showing fairly well all week! We've been to Bempton Cliffs before, a place Margie enjoyed visiting, I also played the Puffin "card"🐧(yes I know this is a Penguin but I couldn't find a Puffin) Margie likes Puffins!

So I booked a hotel in the vicinity, we would leave early Saturday morning hit the cliffs about 9 tick the bird, take a few pics of Puffins with plenty of time left for hand-holding,walks on the beach,visiting castles and other romantic stuff I may or may not have mentioned!! 😎No worries.

First problem was the getting up early,when Margie asked me what time we would be leaving, she may of understood my reply to mean "not too early" rather than what I actually said was "not two early" meaning "three early" easy mistake to make but simply maths should tell you that to arrive on site at 9AM following a 5-6 hour drive you have to leave at 3 o'clock in the morning!!😏

Anyway to cut a long story short, the alarm went off at 3AM after a bit of grumbling, we were on the road by 3.30am an uneventful journey,with Margie catching up on her sleep,I decided to stay awake😃, we arrived on site at 8.50, the car park was already nearly full but we got a space, very well marshalled by the RSPB, well organised throughout the site to cope with the quite large numbers,in these Covid times!! As is traditional now the first person we met was also a birder from Sussex!!Wherever  we go which ever far-flung area of the British Isles, from Blacktoft Sands to Ynis Hyr to The Butt of Lewes Invariably there is a birder there from Sussex!!😁😲 

Typically the news wasn't good, the day before the bird had disappeared North, this is typical behaviour with the bird ranging far and wide😢hopefully it would return during our visit! The weather was hot, I sensibly opted for Sun-hat number 1, the full kepi including neck protection, a long-sleeved shirt and my fancy-dan trousers that can convert to shorts, although as we had forgot to bring sun-cream, my fault obviously😏!! Margie borrowed my other hat,but only had a short-sleeved top a decision she would come to regret!!!😡😲 We did at least have plenty of water,The RSPB also provided free drinking water. We set off into the sweltering heat, with the words "bloody hell, it's only 9 o'clock", we reached the cliffs after a short walk, the one thing they don't tell you about on the glossy documentaries about Seabird colonies is the smell and acrid tang of fish and birdpoop that lasts for ever!!! Although it wasn't to bad today and no where near as bad as the Farne Islands!!

Bempton Cliffs are spectacular as Margie's pictures below demonstrate.

We stopped at the first viewpoint and immediately found (was pointed out to us) a Puffin, Hurrah!! however the blooming thing was asleep!! Boo!!!😅

Sleepy Puffin

There was plenty of other action while we waited for the Puffin to wake up, 



2nd Calendar year Gannet

Look like Rock Doves,act like Rock Doves but presume to much Feral in em to tick!!

3rd Calendar Year Gannet

Adult Gannet

Different Puffin in flight!

Guillemot (near) and Razorbills

Then the Puffin woke up,scratched it's back and went back to sleep again!!

Having a Scratch

Incoming Gannets

Gannet Squadron

So we headed North to the next viewing area,between the viewpoints there was plenty of interest with various Butterflies, lots of Tree Sparrows about and what I think is a young Yellow Wagtail near some cows! Temperature is building,Margie is now a pale pink!🌞

Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrow

Distant Yellow Wagtail not helped by the heat-haze 

The next viewpoint was fantastic with real opportunities to get close to the birds,which I tried to take advantage of, best was a Puffin which was in it's burrow appearing every now and then going for a little walk then popping back in!

Would it come out!!


Probably too many pictures of the Puffin!! Plenty of other good stuff about as well! Probably too many pics of this lot as well😁

Shame about the wingtip

Quite like this effect,no idea how I did it, think it's the light on the sea?


Kittiwakes bonding on ones arrival

When you realise they ain't brought no Fish!!


Guillemot wondering if the Puffin is coming out to play!
We decided to relocate south to the viewpoints, the temperature is now officially kin hot!! Margie is now approaching a gentle salmon colour🌞 and decides to head back to the center to dump her camera in the car and fill up the water bottles while I continue through the furnace to the viewpoint, this is the one where the Albatross has seen most regularly but alas no sign😢
The birds are not quite as close from here although great flight shots can be had! 
Spectacular scenery

Margie arrived and we move further south to the next view point,temperature is now furnace and Margie is now scarlet!! Another excellent viewpoint for attempting flight shots, lots of puffins coming and going and on the sea, extremely tricky to get pics of!!

Fulmar, several about but probably the trickiest of the lot to get shots of 

I imagine this bird is wistfully thinking about battling huge storms in winter as it swelters in the heat!

Sneaking in while their backs are turned

Neighbourhood spat 

Loved seeing this when the returning birds arrive!

Incoming Puffin

The temperature is now approaching the surface of the Sun,Margie has achieved full strawberry🍓With no sign of the main attraction we decide to head back to the center for a bite to eat, the RSPB were doing Sarnies from a takeaway hatch,so a nice cup of tea and a BLT, Egg Mayo for Margie, went down well, serenaded by a Blackbird,with attendant Tree Sparrows and Swallows zipping about our heads!!

Margie took this with her phone, after I failed to achieve the desired effect with the camera

Tree Sparrow


We headed back back to the car where I divested myself of my Scope having carried it around the whole time without taking it off my shoulder once!!
We headed back to the reserve where a birder kindly pointed out a Barn Owl flying around, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon!! In attempting to get closer we found a Tree Sparrow having a mud bath!!
Distant Barn Owl

Bit closer but it disappeared after this so couldn't get close enough for decent shots

At this point Margie has understandably had enough,to be honest I had as well,we were both completely knackered, so decided to give up defeated and head to the Hotel!! 

We stayed at the Mercure Hull Grange Hotel, which was very nice, spacious room, bit spartan due to Covid but everything you need and was spotlessly clean, after a shower and a bit of a rest, we enjoyed a very tasty dinner in the restaurant, unfortunately they made a basic error with the dessert, giving Margie a bigger bit of Cheesecake than me!! Margie claims her mumble between mouthfuls was an offer to swap but I'm not convinced also by this point she'd eaten half of it!!!! Outrageous!!😂 
We retired to our room which was very hot!! I watched the Golf Highlights,Margie was asleep before Spieth's first drive hit the fairway!! On the subject of Golf in my opinion anyone who shout's "Get In The Hole" after the player plays their shot, should be shot!!

The plan for day 2 was to wait for news on the Albatross and if no sign,head home stopping at a nature reserve on the way back, after a very large and tasty breakfast 
and with no news on the bird, we decided with temperatures rising and my body feeling like it had been pummelled by Mike Tyson to forgo the nature reserve and stay in the air-conditioned car all the way home!!! 4 hours later after a fairly uneventful journey,although a bit of a hold up at the Dartford Bridge we arrived home to discover the blighter had returned !!! Bugger!!

View from the Humber Bridge,taken by Margie I hasten to add!!

Oh well you can't win em all and it was a highly enjoyable trip,  with some good birds seen, well worth the money and the effort!! Think Margie enjoyed it despite the 3rd degree sunburn and 7 hours solid birding!! 



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