Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Seals, filming, RSPCA visit, rot, unpeeling and a leak

The last three days for the NT team at Blakeney have been incredibly busy with lots going on.

Let's start with the seals! Eddie & George undertook another count of new-born pups on Monday and the total now stands at 1130 (it was 1055 last Wednesday). Despite a higher count, the actual number of pups on the beach was less as the early ones have already weaned and are now dispersing from the main rookery. This means that they are more and more likely to be encountered in the Morston-Cley-Salthouse area. If you see a pup that looks healthy and plump, please give it a wide berth and keep dogs away. We do go and check on the pups and you may see a sign we have placed near it to let walkers know that we are aware of it and monitoring its condition. Some that are in distress do have to be taken  to the RSPCA but more about that later!

Currently wildlife cameraman Richard Taylor-Jones is helping us to gain an insight into the lives and challenges of the seals of Blakeney Point and  it sounds fascinating as well as heart-wrenching at times. In this photo Volunteer Seal Rangers Sally & Liz catch up with the film crew as part of an introductory tour to their volunteering. As the lifeboat house is being refurbished, University College London kindly allowed the crew to use their building for the time they are with us. Having seen Richard-Taylor Jones on BBC Autumnwatch expect some great footage that tells a great story and maybe something poetic too! We'll keep you updated.

Also seal-related, when we come across a sick or injured seal we will take it to RSPCA East Winch wildlife hospital who care for it so it can hopefully be released back in the wild. Earlier this year some of us went to the wildlife hospital and saw lots of seals at different stages of health including a couple of the Blakeney ones. I found it a fascinating visit to see how, with specialist knowledge, the seals can be nursed back to health, not to mention a room full of swans that had swallowed fishing lines. I'll try to find some photos in due course. Today however was the turn of RSPCA staff to visit us and the seal colony, and they even had a sneek preview of some of the behaviour the film crew have captured.

Ranger George on the left & Graham on the right with RSPCA staff

The lifeboat house conservation refurbishment is on track and now the entire building is surrounded by scaffold.

When three of the NT project team looked at the condition of the lookout they found this. John, our Property Manager, sums it up nicely by 'the harsh environment takes it toll and a new lookout is required #rot'.

Today was an exciting day in the project as the first bit of tin cladding was removed. Over the next few weeks all of the old cladding will be replaced helping to ensure the building will be once again water-tight and weatherproof.

On the wider National Nature Reserve at Blakeney Freshes, Graham and volunteer ranger Malcolm went to check the water levels as we are trying to lower them to be able to get on with reed cutting. The weather however is not playing ball as it keeps raining! On checking one of the water control points, they came across a rather large hole behind the sluice which needed fixing.

By the afternoon the hole was plugged with sandbags as an emergency fix. Hopefully it will hold & not let water through otherwise a digger will be needed. We will be keeping an eye on the repair as the water levels change.

Lastly, the Blakeney seals and Ranger Eddie will feature on BBC Countryfile on Sunday, specifically talking about our conservation and monitoring work with Julia Bradbury. The show is all about North Norfolk so hopefully there will be some familiar scenes.

Victoria, Countryside Manager


1 comment:

  1. Such alot going on. The Point team will appreciate a weatherproof LBH next year !