Whilst watching the Glossy Ibis at Snettisham last night, I bumped into two Norfolk birders, who stated that the Black-browed Albatross was the best bird they had ever seen. This tipped me over the edge! I was thinking of going anyway! Plus I LOVE Bempton Cliffs – I've only have been once before and that was for the Crag Martin on 13th April 2014.
Left my house at 3.15am and 135 miles later, I arrived at Bempton Cliffs RSPB car park at 6.25am. It was a foggy journey for the latter half and to my huge disappointment was also very foggy at Bempton. I remained positive and hoped it would clear at some point?! There were quite a few cars in the car park, but still lots of spaces left. Got my gear together and walked past the visitor centre and along the track to the cliffs and then walked to the "New Roll-Up" viewing point, where they were around 20+ people. It was very cold, so I was glad I had several layers on.
The Black-browed Albatross was initially sitting on the cliff just above and to the right of the arch and it was from here that I took some phone-scoped videos (below) – it was a long way off!
I got very very lucky indeed. Birders had arrived well before sunrise and the fog was so dense, they couldn't even see the towering cliffs, never mind the Black-browed Albatross. Approximately 15 minutes after I turned up, the Black-browed Albatross put in its first appearance at 7.03am, in foggy viewing conditions! My first Albatross!!! What a bird!!! Although, my first view in the fog wasn't exactly stunning obviously! I spent a long time here, doing phone-scoped videos, which in the northerly winds, were not too bad at all. I had no hope of getting any SLR shots, as the Black-browed Albatross was way off in the distance on the edge of a cliff with tons of Gannets, just to the right of a large arch – it was a dot in the binoculars, so anyone who hasn't been yet, you need a scope! Met lots of lovely people today and also caught up with John J. who I have not seen for ages!
The fog did eventually lift, but took its time to clear completely! Bumped into and met Kevin G. here, who told me I would get some good pictures of the Black-browed Albatross flying round from the next viewpoint "Staple Newk", so off I went. Only another 5 minutes walk, if that. The magnificent scene of thousands of Gannets and seabirds swirling below me was mesmerising, I could have stayed here all day and nearly did! It wasn't long before the Black-browed Albatross appeared from behind a cliff and gave us all spectacular views, as it glided past like something from a fairytale! An RSPB warden (or volunteer) explained, that because of the wind direction, the albatross was not coming as close to the cliff edge as it has done on other days, but even so, I was happy and took a ton of pictures!!! A monster bird – I was so glad I came to see this! Other birds seen: tons of Gannets with young on the rocks, Razorbills, Guillemots, Puffins whizzing about, but were a job to photograph! Kittiwakes plus juvs, Fulmars, Jackdaws, a Kestrel sitting on the cliff face and tons of beautiful flowers and grasses along the cliff tops. The Black-browed Albatross then disappeared and was spotted sitting distantly on the sea. Lots more people arriving now, some birders, some not, but all very excited to see this mega bird! A good time for lunch!
Razor Bill at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Fishing boat off Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Jackdaw at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Kittiwake at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Kittiwake juv. at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Puffin at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Tree Sparrow near the visitor centre at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Gannets at Bempton Cliffs RSPB
Headed back to my car for a very late 2.30pm breakfast and lunch break. Sat in my deckchair with the new picnic table and watched Tree Sparrows in the scrub around the car park. Shut my eyes for a short while and then returned to the "New Roll-Up" viewing point at around 4pm. The Black-browed Albatross was sitting on the edge of the cliff face in the exact spot (more or less) as I had seen it this morning – it had a couple of quick distant fly rounds and then remained stuck to the cliff. I waited and waited, in hope it would fly in close to where we were all standing, but it didn't. I felt like I was in a spell – it was very difficult to leave, but pulled myself away eventually and walked back to the car park. Photographed some Tree Sparrows along the cliff top on the way back. The entire day had lifted my spirits so much.
Left Bempton Cliffs at 5.50pm. It was a glorious drive back in wonderful sunshine and the Lincolnshire Wolds look stunning – there seems to be far more trees up north than there are in Norfolk! Arrived back home in King's Lynn at 9.00pm on the dot. I was so tired, I could hardly get out of the car!
UPDATE: Sunday 18 July
I took over 1,200 pictures and it has taken a long time to select, edit and upload Youtube videos, but finally all done! I may add a few more Gannet pictures and some more Black-browed Albatross pictures!
Wow! What a day for you Penny and it was lovely to meet you at last! I'm glad you had a fantastic time and look forward to seeing your images. Take care and I hope your dreams come true!ReplyDelete
Nice to meet you and glad the mammoth drive was worth it !ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness your photos are flipping brilliant Penny! Thank you so much for sharing these, I've been to Bempton a few times but never expected to see an albatross there, but now I have thanks to you. Your blog just popped up on my Google feed so I'll keep an eye out for more amazing bird reporting! Thanks, SarahReplyDelete
What great photo's, you should be proud of yourself!ReplyDelete
What a great read, I am sure it mirrored many birders trip to Bempton to see this wonderful bird, and their feelings upon seeing t.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for sharing Penny. I saw it but not as well as you have . I have loved your videos and photos , well done you .ReplyDelete