It’s that time of year again – seal pups in Norfolk

It’s December, so that means it was time for our annual pilgrimage to North Norfolk to see the grey seals and their pups at Blakeney Point, Horsey Gap and, now Winterton. Like everyone else, we’ve not traveled as much as usual this year (i wonder why? ;-)), but we couldn’t miss this trip.

Braving the cold, but thankfully no pouring rain or winds this year, we started with the boat trip out to Blakeney Point from Morston Quay with Temples Seal Trips (we’ve also been with Beans Boats a few times and they’re also recommended). Unfortunately this year we weren’t able to book one of the trips where we could land on the point and walk around, but being on the boat gives a different experience and almost as good viewing, with hundreds of seals on the beaches and floating in the sea, keeping a wary eye on us visitors.

After a cosy night in Blakeney, we traveled on to Horsey Gap for seals experience number 2! No boats needed at Horsey, just park up (pay for your parking ticket) and wander a few yards along the path, up and on to the dunes and you’re presented with a beach load of seals. The Friends of Horsey Seals do a wonderful job manning the car park, setting up the paths and keeping a watchful eye on seals and visitors to ensure that the seals not disturbed and can come back every year to their birthing and nursing grounds.

Another part of our Horsey tradition is lunch at Poppylands, the WWII themed cafe just a across the road from the access road to Horsey Gap and in spite of it being very busy (always a sign that you’ve selected the right lunch spot) we got a table and had a delicious lunch.

Finally, we made our way to Winterton for our third seal watch of the trip. Its a bit of a walk from the car park to the beach access point, but once there, the seals are in abundance. This year, it was best to stay up on the dunes to see the seals, but normally you can get down to the beach and see them at eye level (if you lie down).

We’ll definitely be back again in 2021, lockdowns permitting!

Back to Burnham – Will there be seal pups?

So, only 2 months after our last trip, we’re back in Burnham-on-Crouch to see the common seals. The difference this time is that there might, just might be a chance to see some pups, even though they’re often not born until July.

We stayed the night before at our usual haunt, the White Harte Hotel, for a comfortable nights stay and some poached eggs for breakfast. The day started with some bright weather, but just before 11.00 when the boat (Discovery Charters 2 hour boat trip) was to pick us up to begin the trip, the clouds darkened and we felt a few spots of rain on our faces. There was also a strong, constant breeze coming in off the sea, but this helped to drive the clouds away and it thankfully stayed dry. We were accompanied on the trip by Noodles, the boat’s resident dog, complete with his own little life-jacket. Noodles takes a keen interest in the seals and seems to love the tours.

As usual, the trip started off with an update on the work to develop the RSBP reserve at Wallasea Island. This area is becoming an increasingly important area for seabirds and waders which was evidenced by the large numbers of black-headed gulls we saw, along with some common terns, Canada geese, brent geese, oyster catchers and little egrets. We even saw 5 avocets on route to and from the seal area.

We soon saw our first solitary seal on the bank of Wallasea Island before heading further along the river and spotting a group of 12-15 on the Foulness side. As we neared the group, what looked to be bits of driftwood next to the seals, sure enough, turned out to be seal pups. There were 4 or 5 in this group, with the bigger ones only 48 hours old and the smaller ones, according to our skipper Steve, only having been born the night before. The pups were incredibly cute, and both mothers and babies didn’t really seem too bothered by us being there.

We stayed slowly cruised a couple of times past this group, before heading a little further up, back on the Wallasea side, to see another group of 12-15 seals which, again, had a few tiny pups with them. We another cruise past them, so both sides of the boat could get a good view, before heading back to to the harbour past the other seals.

It was another lovely trip with Discovery Charters and great to see pups for the first time on our trips to Burnham. I’m sure we’ll be back again in the future.