Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Donna Nook Seals

Yesterday we made a 160 mile round trip to Lincolnshire to see the Grey Seals at the RAF Donna Nook beach, its the first time we have been and I'm hoping not the last because it was such an amazing experience! A friend told us he had visited on Sunday and what an amazing thing it was to see so we wanted to see for ourselves. It was a really cold day, only 4 degrees with a really biting wind but we stayed for an hour watching and walking up and down the path.

This pup here must be a couple of weeks old as one of the volunteers told us they fill out really quickly due to the mother's milk being so rich.

There were thousands of them covering the beach, the noises they made were so human like, it sounded like lots of babies crying.

A mother seal or cow as they are called protecting her pup from the cold wind by laying across the top of it

There were lots of information boards all along the path which was great as I know nothing much at all about the Grey seals or why they come here to Donna Nook to have their pups and breed.

All four of the children were so impressed, when we arrived and parked we walked up and as soon as Ruben could hear them he just ran straight ahead to see them, it was such a sweet moment!

The seal pups had the biggest blue eyes

This one was only a few hours old as you can see the afterbirth in the photo too, the younger they are the more yellow/golden they are and their fur is all saggy, this is only up to 3 days old and then they fill out really quickly.

Such sweet faces!

It was so cute how they laid on  their backs

They were really inquisitive and showed no signs of being bothered by all the humans and their cameras taking photographs. This seal kept moving his hands as if he/she were clapping.

Mother seal playing with her pup in the sunshine

The mother seal lays on her back so the pup can get to her teats to feed

We just missed this seal being born by 5-10 minutes, already it was so confident moving away from its mother.

One of the volunteers spent ten minutes talking to us about how long the seals have been coming here for, how the numbers of pups born are increasing each year. In the 1980's it was around 50 pups to last years 1500 pups born. The pups born here have a better chance of survival,  10% of the pups born die here but compared to further up the course which is 25% its a dramatic difference. We could here the Bulls (male seals) fighting and warning each other off. When the cows have looked after the pups for the first three weeks, the pup is then weaned and goes off by itself, leaving the mother to breed again before she goes back out to see. The Grey seals are pregnant for about a year and come back here again to birth, they can have up to 25 pups in their lifetime.

Days like this remind me how great it is to home educate, having the freedom to just get up and decide this is where we are going to go. All the money we have paid to go to zoos over the years and all this visit cost us was £1 to park and the petrol to get here. The experience was really priceless as educational value was so high.

In the car on the way home, happily eating sandwiches and warming back up no one complained about the drive-a four hour round trip- and Cordelia even drew these pictures, inspired by the real life seals:

Back home and Cordelia decided to make Millionaire's Shortbread again, this time with salted caramel, it was delicious and created quite a fuss when I posted a photo on fb :) We also sat and watched episode 3 of Sky One's brilliant new comedy Yonderland from the writers and actors of Horrible Histories it is compulsive viewing!

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