Thursday, 1 February 2018

1st of February: a Seal on the Old Season

Today, whilst carrying out a wetland bird count on Blakeney Point, we checked up on the last Grey Seal pup of the season (number 2700). The pup is today 22 days old and we are pleased to report that it has been successfully weaned...

The last weaned pup (Ajay Tegala)

It will now probably be almost nine months before we next blog about Grey Seal pups!

This week the rangers have been busy managing the reedbed on Blakeney Freshes as well as tidying up the car park and boat park at Morston Quay.

Friday, 26 January 2018

26th of January: Sweet Sixteen

We are very happy to report that Grey Seal pup number 2,700 of the winter is doing well. It was born on 10th January, meaning it is now 16 days old; just 3-5 days away from being weaned.

Adorable footage of the pup - taken on the day it was born - appeared in this recent BBC online video.

Despite being the last cow to pup on Blakeney Point, the mother has stayed with her pup, which looks healthy.

Pup #2700 at 16 days old (Ajay Tegala)

We were also pleased to notice, today, that the cow is accompanied by a bull, which means she should be able to mate ready for next season. A happy end to a brilliant breeding season!

Friday, 19 January 2018

19th of January: Oh buoy

Following the dispersal of most of the Grey Seals on Blakeney Point, this week we were finally able to help Blakeney Harbour Association retrieve the navigation buoy that washed up towards the end of last year during stormy weather.

One of the few remaining weaned seal pups

Buoy on the beach

Weighing 1.5 tonnes, this was no mean feat. The front loader on the National Trust tractor did the lifting and we were able to return it to Morston in our largest trailer.

Securing the buoy in the trailer

Trinity House will return the buoy to its location at the entrance to Blakeney Harbour from the North Sea (and strengthen its mooring), where it directs vessels around the Hjodis wreck. The sands have moved dramatically around the wreck over the past two years.

Photos by Ajay Tegala

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

10th of January: Final count

We are delighted to announce that our final Grey Seal pup count for Blakeney Point in the 2017/18 season is 2,700 pups. This is a 12% increase on last season, and the largest increase in three years.

(click graph to enlarge)

This makes it another record year for pup births, with 243 pups more than the previous record season (in 2014/15). As usual, mortality was low, with just 2.5% of pups not making it to the weaning stage.

Snoozing pup (Ian Ward)

Considering this was the greatest number of pups to ever be born on Blakeney Point in a season, we were pleased to only have to rescue one pup. In December, we rescued a newly weaned juvenile that had a nasty head wound. It has been doing well under the RSPCA's care at East Winch, where it has been named Naga.

Big Bull (Ian Ward)

Cow in profile (Ian Ward)

The protective fences will remain up until 25th January to protect the later-born pups that are still reliant on their mother's milk to grow healthy and strong like the 2,000+ that have already been successfully weaned and dispersed into the North Sea. We ask that you please continue to respect these access restrictions. There are currently 199 pups and 59 adults on site.

View from end of boardwalk in December (Ian Ward)

Seal pup distribution 2017/18 (click to enlarge)

As we reach the end of the Grey Seal pupping season, our work focus turns to practical habitat management work elsewhere on the reserve. This includes ditch clearance and reed cutting on the freshwater grazing marshes. We are also commencing our preparation work for the breeding bird season, which will soon be approaching.

Ajay Tegala,

Sunday, 31 December 2017

31st of December: Tailing off

Seal pup births are tailing off. As we reach the end of the year, the birth rate has fallen to less than one a day.

There have been a total of 2,697 Grey Seal pups born between 18th October and 31st December 2017. There may be a very small number of pups born in January 2018, but this unlikely to be many more than just a couple.

Pup, cow and bull in Great Sandy low (Ajay Tegala)

The National Trust would like to wish all readers of the blog a very happy new year.

UPDATE: 5th of January pup count takes total up by 2 to 2,699

Thursday, 28 December 2017

28th of December: Seal update

Today’s pup count recorded 19 pups born in the week since the last count. This is an average birth rate of 2.7 per day (down from 5 per day) and takes the total Grey Seal pups born this season to 2,695.

- Ajay Tegala, Ranger

Thursday, 21 December 2017

21st of December: Five a day

We have just completed the last pup count before Christmas; recording 15 births since the previous count 3 days ago.

This is a birth rate of 5 a day (down from 7.5 in three days) and takes the total births to 2,676 so far this season.

 Almost moulted pups (Carl Brooker)

Monday, 18 December 2017

18th of December: Seven a day

We have just completed a pup count, taking us to 2,661 pups (30 born in the last 4 days – a birth rate of 7.5/day).

The below graph shows how birth rate is slowing down. But we are still expecting a few more births over the next two weeks.

- Ajay Tegala, Ranger

Thursday, 14 December 2017

14th of December: Pup count continues to rise

Today's Blakeney Point Grey Seal pup count recorded 33 new births since Monday's count: a birth rate of 11 per day (down from 20 per day three days ago). This brings the running total to 2,631 pups so far this season.

Photograph by Carl Brooker

Photograph by Ian Ward

Monday, 11 December 2017

11th of December: Just under 2,600

Today's Grey Seal count on Blakeney Point recorded 339 Bulls and 1,374 Cows. A total of 40 pups have been born since Saturday's count, which takes the running total to 2,598. This is exactly 100 above Wednesday's count.

Photograph by Ian Ward