1 Star, yawn2 Stars, OK3 Stars, interesting4 Stars, worth a detour5 Stars, worth a journey
(4 Votes, average 3.75)

Cliffs where sea birds nest are noisy (and smelly) places. Depending on the cliffs, tens or hundreds of thousands of birds can be heard, with adults flying out to sea before bringing food back to the nests to feed young chicks. When visiting these places, an important part of the atmosphere is the cacophony of sounds, which require no binocular skills to enjoy! This is particularly useful for people like me who are terrible twitchers.

Sea Bird at Bempton Cliffs

Juvenile Kittiwake at Bempton Cliffs [3]

Logistics and some suggested locations

The following suggestions are RSPB reserves [1]
1. Bempton Cliffs Between April and August 200,000 birds including Gannets, Kittiwakes and Puffins bring the cliffs alive. “A family favourite, and easily the best place in England to see, hear and smell seabirds!”. Has a visitors centre which I found vital to shelter as it was very cold when I was there! near Bridlington, East Yorkshire.
2. The spectacular cliffs at Fowlsheugh are packed with 130,000 breeding seabirds in the spring and summer, including guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. Near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.
3. The high cliffs of Troup Head host Scotland’s only mainland gannet colony. There are also thousands of kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills, along with several other species, including puffins. Nearest town: Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.
4. Dunnet Head has stunning sea cliffs and coastal grassland. These are home to puffins, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, shags and cormorants. Nearest town: Thurso, Highland.
5. Noup Cliffs house Orkney’s largest seabird colony. In the summer guillemots, kittiwakes and razorbills nest on the cliffs. Nearest town: Pierowall, Westray, Orkney.
6. North Hill stunning low level cliffs play host to Arctic terns and skuas. Nearest town: Pierowall, Westray, Orkney.
7. Sumburgh Head. Visit these cliffs during the summer to witness thousands of breeding seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, shags and fulmars. Nearest town: Lerwick, Mainland, Shetland.
8. Mull of Galloway. Large cliff colony of sea birds, including guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. Nearest town: Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway.
9. St Bees Head. Visit spring and summer to see the largest seabird colony in north-west England: fulmars, guillemots, herring gull, kittiwake and razorbills. Nearest town: Whitehaven, Cumbria.
10. South Stack Cliffs Guillemots, razorbills and puffins all raise their young here. Nearest town: Holyhead, Anglesey.

Credits and sources

  1. Map thumbnail Luca Baldassarre (c) some rights reserved
  2. The information and text quotes are taken from the RSPB website
  3. TGIGreeny (c) some rights reserved
  4. Sound by acclivity (c) some rights reserved