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Filey Brigg is a long, low headland jutting far out into Filey Bay. The walk along the top of the Brigg is fairly level and affords extensive views across the bay to the great chalk cliffs of Bempton and Flamborough and northwards towards Scarborough and the cliffs of Robin Hoods Bay. However, the main excitement for photographers is the wading birds especially Purple Sandpiper, which offer great wildlife photography throughout winter.
PLEASE NOTE. It is important to view a tide table for this location before visiting – the site can be cut off about 2 hours before high tide.
Best Lens: 400mm minimumBest time of year: Sept - AprBest time: Low tide, all dayFitness level: DifficultDistance: 3 milesWhat you need to know:
This is a great site for photography of wading birds. Please take extreme caution and visit in benign weather on a falling tide. If this is not possible you must leave at least three hours before high tide. Whilst escape is possible if you are cut off by scaling the cliff this is not recommended as it causes damage to the cliff and is extremely unsafe. Please also note the rocks are often wet and slippy.
Finding the waders
Despite being very obliging the Purple Sandpipers can be frustratingly hard to find. Most days 20 or so Purple Sandpipers are present on the rocks of the Filey Brigg. One of the best things about the Brigg is being able to shoot in both directions depending on the light. They feed on the rocky shoreline often right where the waves are breaking running here and there s they feed. They blend in remarkably well and are small - not much larger than a sparrow.
Firstly head out to beyond the cliffs. The waders are rarely in the bay or on the rocks under the cliff. Once you reach the rocky Brigg it is time to start looking along the edges of rocks and in channels where the water is moving. Watch your step as it can be slippy. They like to feed in this intertidal zone so rocks with limpets are about the same habitat and a good indicator. Sooner or later you will see a small greyish wader hugging the rock and this is what you are looking for! Don't rush in and just watch what they are doing. How they are feeding and the direction of travel. Get in to position and wait.
You will need to shoot low - lying down on the rocks - if you want to isolate the Purple Sandpipers form the distracting rocks. Slowly with good field craft and some luck the Sandpipers will wander towards you relatively oblivious to your presence. This is obviously the time to take a range of shots. The key behaviours to look for are feeding and interaction with other birds. In time, the birds will often head to a small pool to have a bathe and this can give some amazing opportunities.