The geographical position of Flamborough Head as a great white cape whose chalk cliffs project six miles out into the North Sea from the general line of the Yorkshire coast places it in an ideal spot to provide some of the best birdwatching experiences anywhere in Britain. The principal ornithological attractions of the area are the cliffs on the north side of the headland holding the largest colony of breeding seabirds in the mainland Britain, one of the country’s premier the sea-watching sites, rivalled only by some of the Cornish sites, and undoubtedly the best in the North Sea. The numbers of shearwaters, skuas, wildfowl and other birds passing over the sea at the Head can be significant with occasional sightings of rarities including multiple sightings of Fea’s Petrel and Black-browed Albatross.

The headland also enjoys an impeccable pedigree in regularly attracting rare and scarce migrant birds and the numerous areas of cover frequently yield rare and scarce migrants. Migrants can turn up anywhere though some prime sites habitually attract the quality birds.  The area has an enviable record of passerine migrants, especially extreme rarities with Crag Martin, Brown Shrike, Taiga Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, amongst others, all featuring in recent years. The spectacle of thousands of thrushes making landfall after crossing the North Sea in October is unforgettable.

Birding Sites

The Observatory area can be subdivided into several distinct areas. Buckton and the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs in the west hold the most breeding seabirds and are the best areas to witness visible migration.  Danes Dyke is a wooded fortification that crosses the entire headland north to south.  East of the Dykes are South Landing, a second wooded valley with a sandy beach, North Landing and Thornwick, a more scrubby area and rocky beaches, some scrub and two pools, North Marsh, a small wetland near the golf course on the north side of the headland. Old Fall Hedge and Plantation, famous for its rarities is always worth a look and finally the extreme Outer Head itself notable for both its passerines and seawatching which now takes place from a new purpose-built observatory on the cliff top.