The taste of salt on your lips, the sound of bird cries echoing hauntingly and the sight of hundreds of thousands of seabirds packed onto towering chalk cliffs – as wildlife spectacles go, the Bempton Cliffs seabird colony in all its swirling, soaring, squawking glory is hard to beat, and an RSPB Seabird Cruise gets you as close as possible to the heart of the action.
Every year 250,000 seabirds including gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, fulmars, along with the much-loved puffins, return to Bempton Cliffs on the Yorkshire Coast to make their home and raise their families. Each spring and summer, the RSPB heads out to sea on the Yorkshire Belle to see them as they live life on the edge.
It’s a unique experience and is one that has been wow-ing passengers since the cruises began almost 30 years ago. In fact, many passengers return year after year to re-live the experience.
Kim Smales, the RSPB’s Cruise Co-ordinator, said: “The cruises are a real hit with visitors. They’re the stuff that memories are made of. And they give a real flavour of what seabirds endure to keep the circle of life turning.
“All around, seabirds take to the sky: gannets glide above or swoop nearby (on some sailings they plunge into the sea at up to 60 miles an hour), and puffins skim the waves. Then nudging gently in towards the cliff face it’s possible to get an up-close meeting with a guillemot or a razorbill.”
This seafaring adventure starts in Bridlington Harbour. It’s a must-do for holidaymakers as well as locals, and for photographers it’s an opportunity to capture images that don’t come along every day. No previous birdwatching experience is needed to enjoy the trip – expert guides from the RSPB East Riding Local Group are on board to help identify the seabirds while commentary from the bridge ensures no-one misses a thing.
Kim said: “A journey on the famous ‘Belle’ is a treat in itself. The last of the traditional Bridlington seaside pleasure cruisers, this year she’s celebrating her 70 birthday. Don’t forget to wish her Many Happy Returns as you climb aboard – and tell her she doesn’t look a day over 50.”
RSPB Seabird Cruises sail on various dates from 13 May through to 30 September.
Full details at: rspb.org.uk/bemptoncliffs. Prices are: £22 adults, £11 children under 16. Group bookings are available. To book, or for more information, call 01262 422211.