Saturday, 23 November 2013

Seal with a loving kiss

First 'inner group' Seal pup born on Knoxes Reef

Let sleeping pups sleep

Piling on the weight...only three weeks old

Three weeks old and now independent

Seal colony with a snowy Cheviot hills in background

One in the hand...Little Auk

...and away it goes!

Saturday 23rd November comments: After a turbulent week (which brought northerly storms and snow) the wind and sea eventually eased to allow us access onto the Seal colonies. As the sun was dawning, the team were launching the boat and there was some trepidation as we entered the colonies for the first time since the northerly storm.

We were aware of displaced pups across the colonies and a few which had been washed ashore on nearby beaches, but just how bad was the storm? At this time of year any bad storms can wash over low lying nurseries and the result can be catastrophic. Young pups must remain on the land for their first three weeks of life otherwise they’ll perish in the North Sea; in poor years we can loose up to 50% of all pups born.

However, it wasn’t the bad news we had feared. Inevitably a few had been lost, but overall it was a good result as protective mums had moved vulnerable young further up the beaches. A total of 148 new pups were counted bringing our total to 1,336 this autumn and we’re still going strong.

On a different note, a few Little Auks were seen around the islands today and we even managed to help one back to the sea. Thankfully it was fighting fit and it swam away confidently into the North Sea; a great little bird to see at the best of time.

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