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The origins of Flamborough Bird Observatory

Ornithological records from Flamborough Head in the historic East Riding of Yorkshire in England, date back to the 19th Century.


The fascination with the splendid cliffs and their thousands of nesting seabirds is obvious, but the attraction of the head to migrant birds was well known to some of the taxidermists of that time, such as Matthew Bailey. The history of his specimens and associated field observations were summarised in 1872 and 1894, mainly be John Cordeaux. Their intriguing lists inspired much of the endeavour of the earliest Flamborough Ornithological Group members.


In the 20th Century, observations on the Head, except those on the seabird colonies, became fitful. Even in the post-war boom of birdwatching, Flamborough Head was left largely un recorded. Spurn Point and its observatory prospered; Filey Brigg held sway for seabirds, whilst the huge white-cliffed cape slumbered!