What are the Best Ten Bird Watching Destinations for Seabirds in the United Kingdom?
The United Kingdom is blessed, it has some of the best seabird watching destinations anywhere in the world. Here are ten of the best places to go bird watching for seabirds in the UK (in alphabetical order):
This island off the coast of Scotland in the outer part of the Firth of Forth and is home to the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets (150,000), as well as other seabirds such as Shag, Eider, Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills. It has been described as one of the ‘wildlife wonders of the world’. There are cameras on the island beaming live pictures back to the mainland at the Scottish Seabird Centre as well as organised boat trips.
Located in East Yorkshire, Bempton Cliffs is probably England’s most accessible seabird colony where half a million seabirds gather between March and October on the towering chalk cliffs. It is home to a large colony of Gannets as well as other seabirds such as Puffins, Razorbills, and Guillemots. Viewing platforms on the RSPB reserve allow views of the birds from above with amazing views of Gannets diving for fish.
Calf of Man:
The Calf of Man is a 2.50 sq km island located off the coast of the Isle of Man and is home to a large colony of seabirds, with thirty-three seabird species nesting there including Manx Shearwaters, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots, and Shag. It has the added attraction of being on a migration route and has a bird observatory. Other birds include Peregrine, Hen Harrier and Chough. The Calf of Man Island is accessed by small boat operators running return trips from Port St Mary and Port Erin. Sailings are subject to suitable weather conditions, tide and the availability of the boatmen and all journeys must be booked in advance.
Located off the coast of Northumberland, the Farne Islands are home to a large colony of seabirds, including 43,000 pairs of Puffins and fabulous Tern Colonies as well as Razorbills, Guillemots, and Kittiwakes and an Atlantic Grey Seal colony. You can get a boat at Seahouses and sail around the islands to get a close look at the birds and seals. At some times landing is allowed but often not to protect the birds. It is also renowned as home to religious hermits for centuries. Saint Cuthbert introduced laws in 676CE to protect the Eider Ducks and nesting seabirds; thought to be the earliest bird-protection laws anywhere in the world.
Located off the west coast of Sutherland, Scotland, Handa Island’s massive sandstone cliffs are home to a large seabird colony of Guillemots, as well as other seabirds such as Fulmar, Puffins and Razorbills. It can be accessed by ferry. The seas around the island is good for spotting Basking Sharks and cetaceans.
Isle of May:
This small predator-free island off the east coast of Scotland in the northern part of the Firth of Forth and is a National Nature Reserve and is home to a bird observatory. It is is also home to large colonies of Terns, Gulls, Puffins, Razorbills, and Guillemots as well as a seal colony. In clement weather there are boat trips that get you close to the action. It is also famed for the rarities that land up there.
Located off the coast of Devon, predator-free and wildlife-rich Lundy Island is home to a large colony of Manx Shearwaters as well as other seabirds such as various gulls, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots. It has also regularly turned up a number of rarities from America. The waters around are good for cetaceans.
Mull of Galloway:
Located in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, the Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most southerly point and is managed as a reserve by RSPB. It is home to a large colony of seabirds, including Gannets, Kittiwakes, and Puffins and a great place to see breeding Black Guillemots. Spring and early summer are the best times to see the wildflowers and breeding seabirds. Early autumn can be amazing for seeing the migration of songbirds through the reserve and for the huge rafts of Manx shearwaters gathering offshore.
Located less than a mile off the coast of Wales, Skomer Island is the most important seabird site in southern Britain with maritime grassland, lush inland vegetation, streams and man-made ponds and is rich in historical remains. It is a National Nature Reserve and surrounded by a Marine Nature Reserve. It is home to a large colony of half the world population of Manx Shearwaters (310,000) as well as other seabirds such as Storm Petrels, Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots.
This remote archipelago off the west coast of Scotland is the westernmost part of the Outer Hebrides and is home to large colonies of seabirds, including Petrels, Puffins, Gannets, and Fulmars. It also has its own endemic sub-species; St Kilda Wren.
All these destinations offer fantastic opportunities to observe and appreciate a wide range of seabird species in their natural habitats.