Gannet numbers at RSPB Bempton Cliffs have soared in the last three years.
Research this summer has revealed that since 2009, there has been a remarkable rise of 40% in the number of birds breeding on the sheer chalk cliffs at the nature reserve between Bridlington and Filey, which is the UK’s largest mainland breeding gannet colony.
Previous surveys by RSPB staff and volunteers have shown a year-on-year growth since records began in 1969, when there were only 22 pairs at Bempton Cliffs.
But this year’s figures reveal there are now 11,061 breeding pairs, a leap of 3,202 pairs since the last survey in 2009.
The researchers also counted 798 non-breeding birds, which, when they are old enough to find mates, will add to the numbers which turn the cliffs into an amazing wildlife spectacle throughout spring and summer.
Assistant Warden David Aitken, who led the boat-based survey that recorded the figures, is thrilled that these spectacular birds are going from strength to strength.
“Gannets and some other seabirds can fly huge distances – sometimes as far as 600km round trips – in their search for food,” he said.
“This is one of the reasons why vital offshore Marine Protected Areas are needed to safeguard not just seabirds but also other sealife and the important areas where they feed.