Posted by: mynaturaldiary | July 14, 2012

Staple Newk

Staple Newk is the highest viewing point at the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs. The cliffs are some 100m high, rising directly from the sea.

The reserve is the home on England’s only mainland gannetry. Gannets are impressive, powerful sea birds that dominate the cliffs.

Gannet (Morus bassanus)

The adults have yellow heads, white bodies, with black wing ends,

whereas the immature birds are speckled black and white.

With such a large wing surface area, and so streamlined, they find it easy to glide without flapping their wings in the large updraughts of air that the cliffs create.

They come in to land on the cliff top carefully, seeking their young or their partner.

Once they find their partner, an ecstatic bill clacking sometimes happens, as you can see in the pair of birds in the next animated gifs.

But it’s in the air, as the birds twist their bodies into shapes to match the contortions of the air currents that their beauty resides; aerial gymnastics, then a pure swept wing shape.

I spy one carrying nesting material, this late in the season.

Of course, they aren’t the only birds on the reserve. Watch carefully and you’ll see Puffins flash past.

They seem to hang in the air, as they make their way towards the cliff face.

Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

Guillemots and Razorbills were still on the cliffs, but shortly they head out to sea.

Guillemot (Uria aalge)

Razorbill (Alca torda)

Fulmars also occupy the cliffs. They have a beautiful ‘fixed wing’ method of gliding, only reluctantly flapping their wings, as they ride the air currents.

Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

Kittiwakes, elegant gulls, also cover the cliffs.

But being gulls, they fight one another occasionally.

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

Some parts of the cliff are covered by them.

Away from the cliffs and their spectacular views is a smaller bird, seen in large numbers; Tree Sparrows.

Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

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