In mid July I spent a very enjoyable couple of days filming gannets with my friend and fellow pro wildlife photographer, Alan Hewitt. There are about 22,000 gannets at RSPB Bempton Cliffs as well as 180,000 other seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes and even a random albatross seen shortly before we arrived. Living near the Farne Islands, we’re used to having puffins and the like coming out of our ears, so it was the gannets that were the real target of this trip, as they don’t nest on the Farnes.

It’s a bit of a trek across the North York Moors for us to get to Bempton, which is near Bridlington in Yorkshire, but it was well worth it. This is a place where you can happily film and photograph the birds from the cliff top without having the issues that Bass Rock suffers from: namely landing costs and weather stopping play. Bass Rock is, arguably a better experience because of the sheer number of gannets that nest there are the angles you can get to photograph them – with the large caveat that it costs a fortune and boat trips are often cancelled due to bad weather.

Alan’s one-pot. Photo courtesy of Alan Hewitt

So, back to Bempton. Day 1 was a bit grey and the gannets didn’t rise very high above the cliff, so it was difficult to get really good, engaging shots. Nevertheless, we got some decent footage and got our eye in for our return the following day. Alan and I retired to the tent to contemplate the day’s images and put the world to rights over a one-pot extravaganza of food rustled up by chef Alan, washed down with a large quantity of beer and wine.

Day 2 was a much better proposition. The weather was much brighter and the gannets were flying over the tops of the cliffs, perhaps due to the stronger wind. There are various viewing platforms to see different parts of the reserve and the gannets were more obliging. Evening 2 was spent much as evening 1, where the conversation and booze flowed while we edited our images and footage on camp chairs in the sun.


As you can see I’ve made a film about the gannets wrote some music to accompany it. I hope you like it.