Seabirds at St Bees

Seabirds nesting on the cliffs at St Bees Head, Whitehaven

A walk along the Colourful Coast allows for the chance to see some of the most spectacular sea bird colonies in England.  The cliffs at St Bees Head provide the only opportunity for many seabirds to nest between the north Wales coast and the Mull of Galloway, making it the most important seabird colony in north-west England.

Guillemots make up the majority of the colony and numbers have been rising steadily in recent years, so in 2016 the RSPB were  very pleased to count over 13000 individuals on the ledges, which is 3000 higher than the previous record.  Cormorants too had a record year with 202 pairs breeding at the site.

Cormarant in flight, Colourful Coast, Cumbria

Wandering along the headland during the breeding season will also provide sights of kittiwakes, fulmar, razorbills and herring gulls which all nest on the sheer cliff faces.  Those with a keen eye might also spot puffin and black guillemots which breed here in small numbers.

While during the summer months the sights, sounds and smells of the seabirds at St Bees Head are the undoubted stars of the show there’s something to see all year round.

Herring gull and chick, Colourful Coast, Whitehaven

 

Smaller birds such as linnets, meadow pipits, stone chats and whitethroats perch and call from the long grass and heather all the way along the clifftop and farmland.  Barn owls can be seen around the Haig Mining Museum buildings, especially easy to pick out when they’re silhouetted against the setting sun at dusk as they emerge to hunt.   The large black raven with their distinctive ‘cronking’ call can often be heard overhead.  You may even be lucky enough to catch glimpses of peregrines and sparrowhawk soaring speedily over the cliffs and fields.