Bempton Cliffs’ Ali talks about her wild adventures

Bempton RSPB Centre 'Ali Barrat at Bempton Cliffs - seen lots of amazing wildlife.'Picture by Paul Atkinson:'NBFP PA1748-2b
Bempton RSPB Centre 'Ali Barrat at Bempton Cliffs - seen lots of amazing wildlife.'Picture by Paul Atkinson:'NBFP PA1748-2b

You don’t have to travel the world to see some amazing wildlife.

That’s the advice of RSPB Bempton Cliffs senior site manager, Ali Barratt, who says here along the Yorkshire Coast we have some spectacular species on our doorstep.

From polar bears to puffins and killerwhales to sea otters, Ali has seen it all.

“I don’t think there is anything as magical as seeing something for the very first time” said Ali.

Her passion for wildlife and marine conservation has taken her around the world and she has worked at Monterey Bay Aquarium, in California, as well as the Ocean Discovery Centre (now called the Centre for the Salish Sea) in Vancover Island, Canada.

She recently returned to Canada for some workshops on conservation and global warming and decided to the make the most of her journey home.

Stopping off at Churchill, Manitoba, in Canada, she returned to see the polar bears on their journey. “Churchill is known as the polar bear capital of the world and it’s the best place for the average person to see them,” said Ali.

It was minus 19 degrees when Ali was close enough to capture the magnificent creatures on camera.

She said over the last 15 years global warming has had a huge affect on the animals and it is estimated they have lost three to five weeks feeding time due to temperature changes.

But due to colder temperatures this year, the bears had already begun moving from their summer habitat on the tundra to their seal-hunting territory – the pack ice that forms every winter over Hudson Bay.

Ali added: “There were fewer bears this time but when you’re passionate about the animals, what’s important is what is best for the bears.”

Originally from West Yorkshire, Ali had lived in America and Canada before she settled in Flamborough.

She was already living in the area when she got the job as senior site manager at RSPB Bempton Cliffs in March.

“It’s ironic really to come all the way home to Yorkshire and to do this job right here at Bempton. You don’t really need to go all he way across the world, what we have here is amazing.

“You can travel for miles and not see something like what we have here.”

Visitors at RSPB Bempton Cliffs don’t just get to see the wildlife but they also get the opportunity to help with research.

They have been taking part in the Puffin Project by photographing the birds while they are feeding.

Ali says this is to try and get some indication of the types of food that can be found in the area, adding that not only does it help with research but they’ve had some fantastic pictures sent in.

The 50-year-old says there is nothing as exciting as seeing an animal for the first time and there is plenty to see in the East Riding.

“I went to Ravenscar and saw grey seals up close for the first time recently and I saw my first puffin actually at Bempton Cliffs.

“I try remember what it feels like when you see something for the first time and I bottle that emotion up and I try to express that to people who come along who are interested in wildlife and conservation.

“We are really lucky with what wildlife we have to offer on our doorstep here.”