Seabird Watching Guide

Please note that this is a sponsored guest blog by the wonderful people at Kennedy Wild Bird Food.

The UK’s coast is home to some of the world’s biggest and best seabird colonies. For a few
months every spring and summer, the coast is flooded by seabirds returning to their colonies where they occupy every rock, nook, and cranny.

Between April and June, the seabird colonies in the UK are at their most vibrant which is
why the bird enthusiasts over at, Kennedy Wild Bird Food, have put together a short bird
spotting guide of their top 3 UK coastal seabirds.


Experts at diving, gannets put on quite the spectacle. Watch as they fold themselves into
streamlined arrows, piercing through the UK’s seas and emerging with a fish in their mouth.

You’ll have to be quick though as one minute they’re circling above the sea and the next
they’re plunging towards the sea. Their yellow heads make them easy to spot.

When and where to see gannets

The best place to spot Gannets is on the Yorkshire Coast at the Bempton Cliffs Reserve,
which has the largest mainland breeding colony in the UK. You will also be able to spot other bird species with over 500,000 seabirds visiting the reserve between March and October. Non-breeding gannets can be spotted at the Bempton Cliffs all year round however the highest concentration of gannets at their colonies is between January and September.


Northern Gannet


These adorable birds with their colourful red, orange and blue beaks and worried eyes are easy to spot. Unfortunately, puffins are now on the red list of threatened species so if you spot one, it’s important that you log your sightings. The Kennedy BirdSpotter Tool can help you keep track of all your bird sightings as well as let other people know where they’ll be able to catch a glimpse of them.

When and where to see puffins

They mainly live in colonies out at sea so it is best to look for a UK breeding colony. There
are a number of puffin colonies around the country including:

● Bempton Cliffs Reserve in North Yorkshire
● South Stack Reserve in Anglesey
● Farne and Coquet Islands in Northumberland
● Isle of May which is off the Fife Coast
● Shetland and Orkney Islands in Scotland

Between March and April, the adult puffins return to their breeding colonies before heading back out to sea in mid-August. One of the best times to see puffins though is between April and July when you’ll be able to see them tending to their newly born chicks.


Not to be confused with their herring gull cousins, kittiwakes only return to the cliffs of the UK to breed. If you visit some British seaside towns you may spot a few of them enjoying an afternoon stroll.

The main discerning feature between kittiwakes and common gulls is that kittiwakes have black legs whereas common gulls have yellow legs. If you spot a kittiwake or two, listen out for their distinctive call which sounds like their calling their own name, kittiwake. Unfortunately, kittiwakes find themselves on the RSPB’s red list of conservation concern.

When and where to see kittiwakes?

As kittiwakes are coastal gulls they only return to the mainland during their breeding season in spring and summer, where they stay at their colonies from February to August. You can spot them in between August and October flying past offshore in the northeast of England and north of Scotland. Kittiwakes spend the winter months out at sea making them hard to spot during these months.

Grab your binoculars and digital cameras and start exploring the UK’s coastal nature reserves to see which seabirds you can spot. If you’ve got a favourite place to spot seabirds, we’d love to hear about which birds can be seen there and when the best time of the year is to spot your local seabirds.

One Comment Add yours

  1. David says:

    Three of my favourite seabirds! I would have to add the Northern Fulmar. I don’t know why but I always loved seeing them as a kid. We only ever saw them when on holiday in the west of Britain but one remarkable winters day I found one collapsed exhausted on the floor on the Thames estuary. I was so excited to bring it home. My dad told me off because they spit fish oil over people, but this tired bird was grateful for a rest and some Tesco sprats before heading on its way.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s