An awful lot of work goes on behind the scenes at Bempton Cliffs. Between staff and volunteers, we conduct a whole host of seabird research here. From colony counts, to productivity monitoring and even tagging and tracking. Through research like this we can find out things like how many birds we have here, how successful they are with rearing chicks and even where they’re finding food!

In 2017 we did the largest whole colony count we have ever done. This was the first year we included new colony areas in Filey. It took a whopping 253 hours! We now know that we have half a million seabirds along the Flamborough and Filey coast special protection area. Work like this is really important and lots of the research we do can be used for arguing for much needed marine protection!

We would need a lot more time to tell you about all of our fantastic research here at Bempton, but for now I’ll tell you a little about two of our big operations on site, productivity monitoring and colony counts.

By monitoring productivity here, we can assess just how well our seabird parents are doing when it comes to raising their young. Sadly, kittiwake are really struggling. They can lay anywhere between 1-3 eggs each year, but very often only one will survive. Sometimes it can be less than this. Lack of food and climate change are really big factors affecting our kittiwake.

Image: Kittiwake on egg, Poppy Rummery

When it comes to counting birds, one thing we try to do each year is count the puffins. We do this when they arrive in March/April in large rafts on the sea. We do a big count at the start of the season because they are impossible to count once they are on the cliffs, this is because they like to hide in the cracks and crevices. We make our way along the cliff tops and count all the puffins that we can see. It’s not completely accurate, but it certainly gives us a good idea!

Image: Puffins rafting, Ali Barratt

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be talking about our productivity monitoring here at Bempton Cliffs in a series of blogs and vlogs. So, stay tuned as I take you with me to watch some of our spectacular seabirds raise their chicks.

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