With a few rare days free I decided it would be a good chance to catch up with friends and fellow photographers; Steve Race and Richard Lane, whilst visiting my favourite area to see and photograph Gannets. So, with the bags packed, it was off to the Yorkshire coast.
Beautiful journey up in glorious sunshine and no traffic jams. What a great start to the trip, we quickly booked into our luxury accommodation at Bridlington (ok not so luxury), and then shot up to Bempton cliffs for an afternoon with the gannets. I love coming to this area as it has some breath-taking views and of course thousands of beautiful sea birds; gannets, razor bills, Kittiwakes, Guillemot, Fulmars and of course a few Puffins thrown in for good measure. With so many things to see you would think it was a hard decision what to do first. Sadly this decision was made for us, because, although we had beautiful sunshine the whole journey up, at the reserve all we had was thick fog and mist rolling in from sea.
After waiting for just over an hour, and now losing sight of anything more than 6ft away, there was only one thing we could do; go back to the visitors centre and wait for the weather to improve with a nice hot chocolate.
Let there be light
As we drank our drinks looking out of the window like little kids, waiting for Santa to come at Christmas, we finally saw it… a big bright glow in the sky trying to break though. Decision was made and with high hopes, that the mist would vanish and the sun would break through, away we went (I’m sure I saw Richard skipping at one point).
Anyone that has been to Bempton before will know that you can have glorious sunshine one minute and thick fog the next, so we were going to make sure that if the weather broke then we were going to get at least a few images in the bag, and it did for just over an hour, that lovely round thing in the sky shone and us little kids were smiling as we happily pressed those all-important shutter buttons.
With the weather front closing in again, but several images captured it was time to head back to Bridlington and concentrate on one of my other favourite things to do; food here we come.
Early start today as we were keen to get to the reserve to catch the early morning light, so off we went, eager for an awesome days shooting, especially as the weather report was for glorious sunshine.I’m pretty sure that this image of Richard will go to show that you just can’t trust those weather reports.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes he is a good looking chap but sadly he wasn’t in the smiling mood, even though he was bathed in glorious sunshine. Ok the weather was even worse than the first day so we had to make a big decision; stay and hope it cleared, or go for another breakfast. After being there for four hours and no sign of anything improving, the decision was made. At least our tummies would be happy.
An hour later, with full bellies, we drove back to the cliffs to be greeted with exactly the same conditions that we had left so hot chocolates at the centre it was then. My good friend, Steve Race, finally made an appearance, smiling away and sounding enthusiastic about the beautiful afternoon’s weather to come, so with cameras ready, out we went (no skipping from Richard this time) three wildlife photographers in thick fog with visibility of, well. let’s just say very little. There we were at the cliff edge, cameras at the ready, looking out to sea, enjoying the views of absolutely nothing. By now all we wanted to do was meet the weatherman that gave us the report earlier that day.
All of a sudden, in true Bempton Cliffs tradition, the mist stopped rolling in and the light was there, ok it wasnt lovely sunshine and it wasn’t great light but that didnt matter so like eager little beavers images were being taken and even the puffins decided they were going to pop up and say hello.
I can’t remember exactly how long we got but I’m sure we almost managed three quarters of an hour of photography before that wonderful weather front changed again and it was time to pack the cameras away and give up for the day.
Fingers crossed we had managed to get some half decent images and that the whole day wasnt a total waste.
This was it, our last day of shooting was here, we’d managed to get hardly any images down, but had perfected the art of drinking massive amounts of hot chocolate and consuming far too much food per day. As we drove into the reserve car park there was no fog or mist and we didn’t really know what to say.
We were expecting to look out towards the sea and not be able to see it but much to our surprise there it was. With a look of shock on my face, and even a little smile on Richard’s, there was no hesitation… cameras were out and we quickly made our way to the cliff paths.We quickly realised why there was no mist or fog, with winds strong enough to blow an elephant over (not that there were any there) nothing was going to stand a chance of hanging around, with one exception, yes you got it, us. There was no fog and visibility was good so gale force winds or not we were there for the day, our last chance to get some images before the long journey home.
After five hours of shooting and being battered about by the winds we decided to call it a day. We had finally managed to capture images of the amazing sea birds that inhabit this beautiful place as well as having a few laughs along the way.
If you haven’t ever been to the Bempton Cliff area before then you really should make the trip, yes the weather can be a little testing at times, but to see such awesome wildlife up so close makes it all worthwhile. And they do make an exceptional hot chocolate at the centre.