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St. Bees Head (1 Viewer)


United Kingdom
My lockdown walk today was from Sandwith village to the lighthouse at St. Bees Head, and along the coast path to a couple of the bird viewing areas. Last time I was there was in mid January when there were a few fulmars and cormorants to be seen. I wasn’t expecting much more today, but many cliff ledges at the main viewing area were packed with guillemots back after their winter holiday. More will arrive I expect, as there are still a lot of desirable residences left and ledges at other cliff areas were empty. Periodically a few would leave, flying fast and low, going out to feed I assume, but most stayed huddled together facing into the cliffs, seeking shelter from the cold wind.

There was a fierce cold wind blowing from the north, so we didn’t stay long, just time enough to have a hot drink, though we did enjoy watching the gulls (sorry not very good at gull identification) coming in to land facing into the wind rocking around like WW1 fighter bi -planes. Many didn’t make it first time, having to do a go around for a second or third attempt before finally landing on grassy areas at the top of the cliffs, the wind was so strong.

There were a few cormorants on high ledges and squadrons of them flying low over the waves as well, making their way south.

I’ll go back in a couple of weeks to check any new arrivals.

Andrea Collins

Former member - no longer active
Sounds great. St Bees Head is one of my favourite spots but just a bit too far for me to travel to at the moment. It will be one of the first places I head for when the restrictions are relaxed a little.

Guillemots often return to the cliffs well before the start of the breeding season. They might stay a few days, then the cliffs will be deserted again, maybe for weeks. Often they just stay overnight and have all headed back out to sea by mid morning. The earliest I've seen them at St Bees is mid January although apparently they may sometimes be present in late autumn. Conversely I have seen the cliffs completely deserted in late April immediately before the start of the breeding season.
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