Growing in numbers

Around half of the world’s population of Grey Seals are found in the UK’s coastal waters. This highlights the importance of the colony at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire. Unlike most of the UK’s other animals, the Seals give birth in early winter and by the time the big males join the colony some weeks later, any photographer wanting to capture this peak of activity must be prepared to endure the throes of winter on this remote beach. If you ask many a photographer, this really can be one of the most rewarding times of year to work if you and your camera can endure the blizzards of sand and snow whipped up by winds billowing off the North Sea!

The threatening skies and changeable weather at this time of year creates an almost unrivaled mood in a photograph. At coastal sites like Donna Nook, a slightly longer shutter speed can also capture the effects of the strong winds.

Capturing the movement of the sand, rain and snow really does portray the harsh environment that these animals choose to bring up their tiny pups in.

But it’s not just the weather visiting photographers must be mindful of…it’s important to also remember that this is a breeding colony and disturbance to the seals should be kept to a minimum no matter how tempting a shot may be!

Perhaps it’s the protection of this site from above (no, I’m not referring to a divine influence – the RAF use the beach to practice bombing runs which don’t seem to bother the Seals one bit) but Grey Seal numbers have been steadily rising here in recent years…not unlike the number of visiting photographers.

It’s not hard to see why this Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve has become so popular. The viewing experience for visitors is almost unrivaled in a country that so often falls short in providing its public with close encounters with iconic wildlife. The wide-eyed snow-white pups can be seen by visitors of all ages at their nursery in the dunes at the top of the beach just metres from the car park and entrance to the nature reserve.

The sheer number of Seals here in winter means a trek across the saltmarsh will reward more intrepid visitors with the chance to see the huge males chasing females and threatening and fighting with each other…just remember to wrap-up warm!

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