Flamborough Head, with its spectacular chalk cliffs, stacks, arches and smugglers’ caves, and its two lighthouses, one 17th and one 19th century, is also the setting for Europe’s largest chalk reef, which is submerged and extends 6km offshore, It is rich in marine wildlife and also a great place for sea-watching; the best place in Britain for numbers of Sooty Shearwater and the best in Yorkshire for Balearic and Great Shearwaters. Great Skuas (‘Bonxies’), Arctic, Great, Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas, ‘blue’ Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels are also commonly seen in late summer. Pods of Harbour Porpoises are common and dolphins and Minke Whales occasional.
The headland is also one of Britain’s hotspots for migrant birds. Spring and autumn walks around the Head can turn up scarce shrikes, Wheatears and warblers, while the occasional Osprey, harrier species or Red Kite drifts over. Late autumn can bring large ‘falls’ of thrushes, including Redwings, Fieldfares and a scattering of Ring Ouzels, while winter may bring Snow Buntings, Waxwings or a Rough-legged Buzzard.
Thornwick Pools attract waders such as Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and Greenshank. It can often turn up a rare or scarce bird for the area, such as Citrine Wagtail, Avocet or Kingfisher. Along the rocky and sandy beaches you could see Purple Sandpipers, Sanderlings, Whimbrels and godwits.
Barn Owls, Peregrines, Roe Deer and Brown Hares are regularly encountered at Flamborough. Wildflowers in summer include orchids, Kidney Vetch, Harebell, Knapweeds, Restharrow and Sea Pink.