400 mile journey to Bempton for adventurous gannet

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AN ADVENTUROUS gannet has proven that the Yorkshire coast is just as attractive as the Channel Islands – after flying more than 400 miles to cliffs near Bridlington.

Researchers at the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs discovered a gannet which had been ringed on Jersey.

Ian Kendall, manager at Bempton Cliffs, said: “It’s not unusual to find gannets in the Bempton colony that have flown here from Bass Rock, off the coast of Berwick, but one from so far south is a rare occurrence.

“In fact, it’s possibly the first time this has happened on the reserve.

“Obviously, this gannet was a very discerning bird and realised that a trip out to Yorkshire would be a good way to spend the summer.”

The long-distance flyer was discovered by RSPB staff and members of the East Riding Ringing group, who were fitting satellite tracking devices to gannets.

These ultra-lightweight devices are temporarily attached to the birds’ tail feathers.

They provide information that helps the RSPB understand more about where birds such as gannets go to feed, particularly when they are rearing their young.

The researchers are also looking at how changes to the marine environment may be affecting this search for food.

Ian said: “After three years of this research work, we are building a detailed picture of where gannets are going to find food and we know some birds will travel as far as 150km to find a good place to feed.

“Ringing is also an important – if less high tech – way to find out where birds are travelling.

“When these huge birds fly within a few feet as you walk along the clifftop path, it really brings home how important it is that we find out all we can about their lives and how we can protect them,” he added.

From a children’s Greedy Gannets Club to Tea with Gannets walks, Bempton Cliffs has a programme of activities called Planet Gannet, which runs throughout the summer.

For more details, visit www.rspb.org.uk/bemptoncliffs.