Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Seaton Cliffs

A couple of weeks ago, I headed up to the red sandstone coastline of the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Seaton Cliffs wildlife reserve. The reserve sits on the east coast of Scotland, just at the town of Arbroath. That's not a million miles away from the big seabird colonies at the Isle of May, Bass Rock and the Farne Islands and I was keen to see if there were any seabirds nesting along the cliffs since it would certainly be an easier (and cheaper) spot to get to than the islands of a weekend!

Wildflowers on the Seaton Cliffs with Arbroath in the distance.

Seaton Cliffs Wildlife Reserve. Link to Google Maps.

Almost as soon as we arrived at the reserve I realised that I'd left the battery for my DSLR in the charger at home which was... less than ideal! This led to the subsequent realisation that there is nowhere obvious in Arbroath to buy a battery for a Canon 7D. Fortunately, I had my trusty Canon G12 tucked away in my rucksack as well though, which turned out to be absolutely fine for the wildflowers and lovely scenery.

The red sandstone Seaton Cliffs.

A couple of snoozing gulls was the only bird life we saw on the cliffs for the first half an hour or so. We did walk VERY slowly though! 

Sauntering along the path from the car park in Arbroath, we were treated to lovely views of the cliffs and views over the North Sea, but not much in the way of birds. There were plenty of wildflowers though and lots of little white butterflies in amongst them which were lovely (but too skittish for my compact camera), as well as skylarks in the fields on the other side of the path.

A sandstone arch carved out by the sea.

My old dog certainly enjoyed the walk!

The cliffs themselves have been weathered into all kinds of shapes and structures, and it looked like an outdoor-adventure group were setting up ropes along some areas, presumably for a spot of cliff-walking or something similar. The walk was also clearly popular with dog-owners, so if you're looking for a more solitary experience, this might not be the place for you! Then again, it was also a beautifully sunny day when I visited which might have boosted the numbers a bit.

Kittiwakes and gulls nesting on Seaton cliffs. A couple of guillemots and shags were also present on the rocks by the shore, but may just have been passing through.

A northern fulmar (Fulmaris glacialis) on the cliffs.

Eventually, we did find a small bay which had quite a few kittiwakes, gulls and fulmars nesting on them, as well as a couple of guillemots and shags further down by the water. It wasn't a huge number of birds, but the cliffs were obviously protected enough from predators and the elements that it was good enough for some at least! If you're just looking for a few birds, this was a nice wee spot to see them, but it was nothing like as crowded with animals as the big island colonies, and there were definitely no puffins.

Cormorants, eider ducks and oystercatchers were happy to hang out in the bay next to the car park.

By the time we got back to the car, the tide had come in and there were a few more birds hanging out on the rocks just opposite the car park including a few cormorants, eider ducks and oystercatchers which was pretty cool. Later in the season it might be worth swinging by to have a look out for eider ducklings!