Sunday, 30 November 2014

30th of November: Pups galore

A lot has happened in one month on the end of Blakeney Point. Four weeks after the first pup was born, the last mile of beach and dunes are covered in hundreds of Grey Seals and their pups. Pups born in the first week of the month are now weaned. Having been fed on their mother's milk for three weeks, they have been left to fend for themselves, with hungry cows taking to the sea to feed (they last fed prior to giving birth and have become very thin from feeding their pups). Many weaned pups are very plump and are contently resting on the Point, but a few hungrier ones have taken to the sea on their first foraging trips.

This weaned pup has almost moulted its white fur

With weaned pups starting to leave the Point, our counting methodology changes. A total count will only show the number present, which is now less than the total number born. So, as of today, we are counting new-born pups and adding them on to yesterday's total of 1,420.

Plenty of pups are still being born

Today's count of new-born pups totalled 88, which puts the total for the year so far at a whopping 1,508 - and it's not even December yet. We are 381 pups ahead of the same date last year. This means we have now caught up with the Farne Islands, who had 1,507 yesterday, but started pupping five weeks before us and are coming to the end. We are just behind Donna Nook, who had 1,541 yesterday, they started pupping a week before us and are starting to see a decrease in the number of cows. So it looks like we may well reach our prediction of being the largest Grey Seal rookery on the English coast. There will be lots more births at Blakeney throughout December, so watch this space!

They're so cute!

In other wildlife news, some notably late migrant birds were seen on the Point today: a Black Redstart in off the sea and also two Chiffchaffs.

- Ajay (Coastal Ranger)
Photography by Andrew Capell

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