Bempton Cliffs

During the summer months the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs is home to over 200,000 nesting sea birds. Bempton is a great place to photograph gannets in the air and is one of the few places where you can do this in the UK without needing to take a boat trip.


Visitors to the reserve can walk along the cliff edge and watch the birds from a number of viewing platforms. I visited Bempton Cliffs in June 2013 and in July 2014 in order to photograph the gannets. These graceful flyers soar close along the cliff edge making them relatively easy to photograph. In addition to the gannets there are also kittiwakes, fulmers and gulls here in numbers gliding along the cliff face. 


The viewing platforms look onto the face of the cliffs providing views of the nests not just of the birds mentioned earlier but also of guillemots, razor bills and puffins. However the views of these auks don't compare with those available at places like the Farne Islands or Skomer.

In terms of equipment, I found that a 300mm lens paired with my Canon 5D MkIII provided sufficient focal length for the gannets. I did take some shots at 420mm. If you want to photograph the birds nesting on the cliffs then I'd recommend the longest lens you have, I used a 600mm lens on my Canon 7D.


Having looked at the map of Bempton Cliffs I elected to make my first visit during an afternoon so that the sun would be behind me. I found this worked very well. On my second visit I went later in the afternoon as the light is still behind the photographer even as the sun starts to descend. Morning light is best for photographing the birds on their nests as the cliffs are roughly angled from the north west to the south east.


There is a small RSPB shop, toilets and a kiosk selling drinks and snacks on site.

In Summary

When to visit: Apr to July.


What to photograph: gannets, kittiwakes and fulmers.


Cost: £3.50 for car parking then entrance is free.


Location: Yorkshire, near Bridlington.


Bempton Cliffs website.

If you'd like to see more of my wildlife photography, click here.


You can contact me at [email protected].


All images on this page are Copyright (c) 2014 Paul Waldron.

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