FLAMBOROUGH HEAD & BEMPTON CLIFFS
EAST YORKSHIRE (E)
54o06´54´´N/00o04´50´´W (N/A)ha 38m coastal limestone cliffs with grass and sheltered woodlands
Birding Site Guide
This scenic rugged coast with its 38m (120m in parts) high cliffs and associated sea-bird colonies is located at the e most point of E Yorkshire. It is reached via the coastal resort of Bridlington (A614 or A165) and leaving e on the B1255 towards the village of Flamborough. Follow the road for a couple of km then after a sharp bend take the sharp right turn onto the B1259 (Bridlington Road) and follow to Flamborough. Follow the B1259 road a short way to the car park at the head. There is plentiful accommodation at both towns, with bed and breakfast being the cheaper option (c UK£30 or US$50+ per night per person). There is the even cheaper option of caravan and camping sites.
Facilities at the head include 2 cafes, public toilets and a shop. The car park is a pay car park (at least during the tourist season). Tickets bought here are valid at all car parks for the time paid for.
From the car park there are a number of well-marked footpaths to walk, or you can go straight to the head to sea-watch. At the tip of the head there are some unofficial footpaths around to the most prominent grassy patch of cliff where the locals sea-watch from. Alternatively you can remain safely on top and sea-watch from there.
From the car park a footpath leads n down steps at the cliff to a cove or along the cliff edge of the golf course. There is another footpath if you go past the toilet block and turn s across the head, after a couple of km walk through the cliff top fields you arrive at a path heading back inland to the B1259. This is Old Fall Hedge (sometimes called confusingly New Fall Hedge). This hedge and the small Old Fall Plantation halfway along are very productive to bird especially on passage. Along the B1259 and Lighthouse Road the hedges are worth a look as is the small newly planted wood back towards Flamborough village on the left-hand side.
Another area to look around is South Landing. As you approach Flamborough village from the head take the left (s) turning before the junction with the B1255. This is South Sea Road follow it to the end and South Landing pay car park (note the tickets you buy anywhere in Flamborough are valid at any of the public car parks so long as your time has not run out). There are toilets here.
South Landing has a good mix of woodland scrub and grass; follow the circular path around the site, and also go down to the beach at the landing to bird.
Instead of turning left on to South Sea Road, you can also re-join B1255 and go n at the end of which is North Landing pay car park and shops. Or alternatively turn right (n) before the junction and through the village past the supermarket and fish and chip shops keep heading n out of the village and past fields for a couple of km, there is then a right turning along the B1255. Here there is a steep seaward scrubby ravine with footpaths to look around.
The following applies both for Flamborough and Bempton. The main species that breed here from April on are Kittiwake which has steadily increased over the decades to over 75,000 pairs now. There are breeding Gannets at one of their few mainland sites in Britain, and thousands of Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins. There are also hundreds of Fulmar and of course gulls. Common Terns breed and passage of terns of several species can be impressive. Cormorants are common and breeding Shag can be found lower down the cliff. Other passage species include many skuas of 3 species (Arctic, Long-tailed and Great) harassing the migrant terns and often further out shearwaters of several species Manx being by far the commonest, but also occasional Sooty, Balearic, Great and Cory’s. At the cliff top around the RSPB shop at Bempton the hedges and rough grass bordering the agricultural fields is worth birding for migrants in spring and autumn. In the bushes this can include anything but typically there are Northern Wheatears, Common Redstart, Spotted and Pied Flycatcher (and sometimes Red-breasted Flycatcher) warblers, thrushes and finches. Resident birds include the scarce Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting often in mixed flocks of other finches and buntings such as Linnet, Chaffinch, Brambling, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. Accompanying these migrants are predators such as Long-eared Owl (pictured above).
In the grass areas look for the mixed finch and bunting flocks but also keep an eye open for scarcer species such as flocks of Snow, Lapland Bunting and possibly Shore Lark and maybe even a Richard’s Pipit.
At Bempton 160 species of bird have so far been recorded (33 species have bred), with more recorded at Flamborough.
The cliff tops attract many insects with many being migrants. There have been at least 15 species of butterfly recorded and 12 species of bee including the Great Yellow Bombus distinguendus . Migrant moths include the spectacular Hummingbird Hawk-Moth Macroglossum stellatarum.