It was a lovely cold winter morning, with a blue sunny sky and frozen ground. I nearly slipped on black ice on a pavement walking away from a car park. I returned to where I had walked a few weeks ago to walk with a few other people. We walked across a field, a few weeks ago this was full of cows, but was now empty. Then we turned onto a path bordered by reeds, towards the line of high dunes. I was impatient to see the grey seals, but didn’t have to walk far to the sign pointing to the seal viewing platform and the wooden steps leading up to it. At the foot of the steps was a blackboard updated on Thursday, stating that there are now 1700 adult seals and 1420 pups! The number of pups has increased. On 23rd November there were 1144 adult seals and 665 pups. The beach was full of new born seal pups with their mothers. One seal had climbed to the top of the dunes so we walked away from it.
It was wonderful to see all the seals and their pups. The sea was stormy, whipping up foam in places. High waves were breaking at the edge of the beach. Perhaps it was high tide as the seals were high up the beach, close to the foot of the dunes. Then I reluctantly walked down the steps back onto the Coastal path below. The pull of the seals were too great. We walked for a while then climbed some dunes, and saw an even higher density of seals! Young pups were suckling their mothers, and male seals were fighting each other. Fights seemed to start with two male seals facing each other, opening their mouths very wide, arching their necks and roaring. One seal ran away immediately, rolling on his side, as if he realised that his rival was far too large to fight. Others seemed to act quite aggressively towards each other and towards the females.
It was nice to reach a café by the beach, a lovely wooden building which served a wonderful fish pie, with salad, probably enough for 2 people who hadn’t been for a bracing walk, or one hungry person who had! The walk back to the car park, back along the same route, seemed much quicker. The light was starting to fade and the sun had gone in. We walked along the tops of the dunes, still enchanted by the seals. Near the seal viewing area a seal warden warned me that there was blood on the path, but no seals were injured, this was due to a seal giving birth to a pup a few hours earlier. Ropes and posts had been put around the new born seal and its mother to keep walkers well away from them. I walked through the thigh high marram grass on the top of the dune, around the path where the seal had given birth. The young pup was a yellowish white, very tiny and extremely cute! The seal wardens do a wonderful job, out in all weathers, protecting these wonderful mammals and helping the seal colony to increase.