Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Glorious Gannets

Back in July myself, Daniel Trim and Richard Bowler were due to visit Bass Rock in Scotland, however adverse weather conditions at sea prevented us from landing so we were forced to cancel and make new plans. We decided instead to visited RSPB Bempton Cliffs, a reserve I have been to twice before.

This reserve is an absolutely fantastic sight for the birdwatcher, wildlife enthusiast or anyone really as thousands of seabirds swirl around the cliffs during the busy nesting season, the sounds and smells are amazing and on a glorious sunny day it can be one of the best days out in the UK, the reserve is is England so one of the easiest to reach sites for many people.

Bempton holds a huge Gannet colony as well as all the usual seabirds. For a photographer it can be a tricky site to photograph Puffins, Razorbills etc as these birds do tend to be lower down on cliffs, the Farne Islands does allow you to be more on their level, but nevertheless you can still easily see these species and that in itself is wonderful! However, for Gannet photography this is the top site in England, places such as Bass Rock, Shetland, Saltsee Island are well known and it cannot be denied that these sites are fantastic especially for getting up close to the Gannets but Bempton is reachable and usually rewarding for flight photography with the correct wind conditions.

However this year Bempton has been even better, a small group of "teenage" Gannets, non-breeding birds have taken up residence on the cliff top, literally feet away from the path. Flight shots were not only on the cards but portrait and intimate behavioural images could be achieved from the site which makes the day a more rewarding experience as you can come away with a variety of shots.

The sun rose early, around 4.50am and the sun rises slightly behind/to the side of the cliff dwelling birds giving the opportunity to photograph the birds back and side lit and gives the opportunity for silhouette shots. We made the most of photographing the birds until 11am when we waited out the harsh light conditions to rest and eat lunch and go over our images. The afternoon provides front lit images with the light directly behind the footpath, as the afternoon goes on the light gets softer and helps with flight shots too. Unfortunately we had to leave around 5pm but if you stayed until the last drops of light I am sure it would offer some glorious opportunities.

I hope this short summary has been helpful, we really enjoyed our time at Bempton, it was by far the most productive time I have spent there and with the added bonus of Tree Sparrows, Jackdaws, other seabirds and stunning scenery it makes for a really productive day photography-wise and overall a lovely day out! Enjoy the images....


  1. Hi Ben

    This is a stunning selection of high quality and exceptionally varied images. Your explanation of sun conditions helps to pinpoint when each image was taken and is a real help to those of us still at beginner status. I love the second one especially, with the dappled light on the sea.


  2. Thank you Christian, for one day photographing one species I was pleased with the range of images. Appreciate you looking and commenting, always valued.

    Kind Regards,