Bempton birds – when you know you’re being watched

Many birds are perfect parcels of protein. There are plenty of predatory species which would treat them as a tasty snack.

This Guillemot is watching me:

No wonder. People from San Francisco took nearly 500,000 eggs a year from Guillemots on the Farallon Islands in the mid-19th Century.

This Kittiwake is wary of us on the cliffs. Global heating by humans has led to warming of the seas and commercial fishing for sandeels has led to collapse in the food available to them. Their populations are in steep decline in many areas.

Kittiwake - Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

As for Puffins, they may appear innocent and friendly, but this may be their downfall, as they are still captured and eaten on Icelandic islands.

Puffin - Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Razorbills are the closest living relatives of the Great Auk which is now extinct after being killed for food and feather pillows:

In the early 20th century, Razorbills were ‘harvested’ for eggs, meat and feathers.

Herring Gulls are often seen as pests because irresponsible feeding and poor storage of waste food has encouraged them into conflict with humans. Amazingly their population is threatened in the UK. Their breeding population has declined by 60% since 1969.

Herring Gull - Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They’ve all evolved to be wary of humans. The ones that weren’t didn’t survive to have children.

As for this Gannet?

Gannet at Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s me that’s frightened I’ll be captured and eaten by it.

More birds at Bempton Cliffs

Displaying Gannets - Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bempton birds – Gannets displaying When two Gannets fall in love, they like to let each other know about it: I like the final one.… read more
Tree Sparrow at Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Tree Sparrows on the edge I've only ever seen Tree Sparrows before at Tree Sparrow Farm. That's a sign, isn't it? If the place is… read more
Gannet at Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bempton birds – eyelids Blinking birds. Gannets are everywhere at Bempton Cliffs. I'm hoping to get a good look at their eyes. Gannets' eyes… read more
Razorbill - Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bempton birds – coming in to land Landing makes flying seem easy: I love the way this Guillemot is dangling its feet, like two paddles, to provide… read more
Gannet at Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bempton birds – staring at the sky Gannets look astonishingly alien, don't they? They're not inhabitants of this world. When they display to one another they point… read more
Puffin - Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bempton birds – nesting materials A Kittiwake flies past with some grass in its beak. It looks like its nest needs reinforcements: They sometimes carry… read more
Gannet fighting at Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bempton birds – violence and aggression It's not all mutual preening and sweetness and light at Bempton Cliffs. It's a difficult life, perched on a ledge… read more
Puffin at Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bempton birds – Gannets, Gannets, everywhere Try going to Bempton and getting a photograph without a Gannet in it. Try it. Go on. Here's a Puffin… read more
Razorbill with chick - Bempton - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bempton birds – eggs and chicks galore There are hundreds of thousands of seabirds here at RSPB Bempton Cliffs. I particularly love the Kittiwakes. They're such delicate,… read more

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