Friday, June 01, 2012

Bempton Gannets

It had been too long, in fact far too long since my last visit to Bempton Cliffs back in 2007. So I was now keen to return with some better camera kit to see what could be achieved at the UK's only mainland Gannet colony. A visit to Bempton is a great day out for the bird photographer and always an assault on all the senses in terms of sights, sounds and like all sea bird sites, smell.
The main photography at Bempton is for birds in flight but some portrait images are possible of birds precariously perched on the edges of the high vertical cliffs. Gannets are not the only species present as a whole range of sea birds use the site in large numbers including Fulmar, Kittwake, Guillemot, Razorbill and Puffins. All of these, except perhaps for the puffins, offer great photographic opportunities. However, for this blog post I will just restrict myself to some images of the majestic gannet. I must admit I have a great fondness for Gannets as they are such beautiful birds. 
Given that the cliff face is north-east facing then the best opportunities for flight photography come during the afternoons when there is a good westerly wind blowing. Under these conditions, the Gannets tend to 'hang' in the wind along the cliff edge. During the late afternoon we found a spot where a constant stream of Gannets were coming into land keeping the shutter finger very well exercised.

The birds were still busy collecting grass for nest building and it was a common sight to see a bird passing with beaks full of vegetation.
The is no question that Gannet are majestic and impressive birds with a wing span of around 2 metres. As graceful as they are in the air, they certainly are not always when coming in to land and can look quite comical at times as wings and feet spread in all directions to slow down their final approach. This is particularly the case for the younger less experienced birds.
At one location along the cliff where a number of gannets were landing it was nice to get some interactions between the birds including greeting each other and mating.
There is no privacy in the world of Gannets.
We finished off the day with a flurry of flight photos as the sun softened, the Gannets performing beautifully as they floated, twisted and turned in the wind blowing over the cliff top.
It was a very enjoyable session and a place I would wholly recommend for anyone wanting to photograph some sea birds. It is surprising how close the birds are on occasions and full frame images with a 300mm lens are perfectly possible if you chose the right place along the cliff top path. I hope to revisit the site soon and certainly will not be leaving it for half decade before my next visit!


grammie g said...

Hi Rich...these are just awesome images...what a beautiful bird and the wing shot's are just lovely!!
Thanks for sharing!!

rosie green said...

Beautiful shots, Rich.Love the one with nesting material.I went up in March and was lucky with weather and light. Going up again at end of this month to see it all at a more chaotic stage! Going to see what I can shoot from the RSPB boat as well.Magical place.

Ars Natura said...

Qué dificiles son los blancos y qué bien lo has resuelto!

No me había fijado nunca en esas líneas amarillas que tienen en las patas hasta que he visto tus fotografías.

Muy bonitas.

Dina J said...

These are beautiful birds. Such amazning pictures you got and with great detail!

Cain Scrimgeour said...

Beautiful collection of shots. I've never been to Bempton but I've been filming the Gannets at RSPB Troup Head in Aberdeenshire for the past week, fascinating birds !

Christian said...

It doesn't get any better than that!

Amish Stories said...

You take great pictures. Richard

Coppertop said...

Oh WOW! Amazing photographs Richard - thank you for sharing.

Avtoprokat said...

Thanks for the beautiful photos !!!

Rich Steel said...

Thanks for the comments. Bempton is always worth a visit with a camera if you are passing on an early summer afternoon. You can never get enough of gannets as they are such beautiful and graceful birds.




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