I went off in my camper for a 1 night stay at a campsite that is only a 10 minute walk to the southern side of the RSPB cliff reserve. I travelled up on the Saturday and got all set up on my pitch at around 1pm. I had a stop on the way and had a sandwich and a drink at this time so once I was set up at the campsite I could get going and spend a good few hours walking the full range of the cliffs.
The weather for the weekend predicted some short but heavy burst of rain, I had seen some rain when driving up but it was bright, dry and windy when arriving at the Wold Farm campsite. So once I had got my gear in order off I went walking down the track from the campsite to the cliffs. Wold Farm promotes the fact that it is located pretty close to Puffin burrows so I decided to make my way to a couple of highlighted locations on the southern side of the cliffs.Track leading to the cliffs is behind my camper and the caravan.
View from my camper looking towards the sea.
20 minutes’ walk later I was looking at a trio each of Puffin and Razorbills from quiet a close distance. Looking left and right along the cliffs that I could see the sky had an abundance of sea birds in the air, some gliding with ease in the wind others with wings frantically beating against the wind so they could get back to their own nesting sites.
All the usual suspects, in differing numbers were at this ‘quieter’ part of the reserve, Kittiwakes, Gannets, Guillemots (some Bridled seen too), Razorbills, Herring Gulls and the delightful Puffins filled the air with their presence, sight and smell, not many Fulmars seen though! Loads of Feral Pigeons made sorties in and around the cliff faces all the time I was there, in groups of 2 to 20.
While walking along the cliffs searching for photographic opportunities Skylarks could be heard and seen in the sheep filled fields bordering the cliffs. I then came across an area that had a good number of Whitethroats flitting around and managed a couple of shots of male and female birds.
Making my way after some time at the southern end I moved towards the reserve centre, Herring Gulls were perched in among the Kittiwakes, Razorbills and Guillemots.Slowly but surely I got closer to the rock stacks holding one of the Gannet throngs, what a sight!
Here the Gannets were most prevalent both on the cliff faces and in the air. Sadly the birds flying all seemed to be staying low and not coming to the top of the cliffs too often so making the eye level shots I was hoping for a little more difficult to achieve, possibly not enough wind to lift them up to my level?
I did manage a few nice shots of Gannets though; please see below a trio of these images …
Now taking photographs of these sea birds for a relative newcomer to this hobby is not an easy task I can assure you especially when you get the camera set up for sunny conditions looking to take photos of mainly dark coloured birds like; Puffin, Razorbill or Gullemot and then the sun goes in and it goes cloudy and dark and the birds you next look at in the sky are now mainly white in body colour, Gannets and Kittiewakes and you have to try to alter camera settings to match the conditions and then the sun comes out and the settings need tweaking again!!
I persevered and I guess this afternoon I had at least 5 ½ hours on the cliffs and apart from a rather severe downpour where all I could do was stand with my back to the rain, protecting my camera getting soaked to the skin (waterproofs were back in my camper – derrr!) I had plenty of time to be patient and change settings again and again, all good practice eh?
Now I did not see many chicks but the nesting birds were as you would expect all over the place like these Kittiwakes below and apart from the odd open beak squabble all seemed to pretty quiet.Below to close part 1 of this blog you can see a small selection of birds in flight that I did manage to get in the fluctuating conditions, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Razorbill and Gannet.
Part 2 to follow in separate post 😉