November 20, 2013

Grey Seal Colony at Donna Nook

Last weekend, we found our way to Donna Nook, approx. 2 hour drive straight to the east coast. The reason was that every year from Sept to Jan, the grey seals are on the beach to give birth and to feed their young. Because it is a popular destination during weekends we started off early. The wish was to be there before the sunrise. Once there at just before 7:00 (count 2 hours backwards to get our start time) we walked straight to the beach where the seals are. Already that early there was few people there, some other dedicated (read crazy) photographers but also some 'seal wardens'. While chatting with them, we found out that just until now 771 poppies had been born, very precise number. During that morning, we could see 5 newborn. At least along the fence, as they looked a bit sticky and yellow.
Along the beach, a fence (approx 1 km) was put up to both protect the seal but also humans. Seals are rather agressive, especially with puppies. Another issue with humans getting to close is that the puppies are that cute that you want to pet them, and because of that touch and the human smell the mother is most probable to abandon the pup.
Anyhow, rather soon while the sun was rising it got clear to us that it was a good move to get there early. Already around 9:00 it got crowded.
I'm all pro for pretecting wild animals, and putting up the fence was the best move they could have done. Its not the best for photography though. When taking pictures its always slightly from above and its rarely good.
The location of this beach is perfect for seals, it's sand dunes and tall grass. At high tide the sea is almost up to the fence while at low tide you can see sand as far as the eye can see. The area is also a military training ground for fighter planes and of course neither is bothered by the other.
Approximately 40% of gray seal population in the entire world can be found in the UK, and apart from this beach they can also be found in smaller populations in Wales and along Scotland's coast.

One of the pictures I wanted to take was of fighting bulls, but during that morning they were rather lazy. We could see some at far distance, but most usually it was just females growling at the male to keep him away from the puppy. They would protecting their young with their lives at stake and without hesitation engage in fights with a larger male that have come to close to the pup, sometimes they are even three times their size.
The males are keeping close, as the females abandon their puppies after 2-3 weeks, and they are ready for mating. The puppy are at that time sufficiently fat to make its way to the sea and start hunting themself, and believe me, they are FAT :)
Hope to go there again in mid-December when everything peaks and then I might get action pictures of fighting bulls.
This is really something I can recommend for families to do, it's easily accessible and it's awesome to see so many seals and their puppies in one place.
Cute puppy

Cows fighting

couple of weeks old pup

Newly born

Cow and bull fighting

A lot of people

The view from one point towards the sea

Keep out

Cow taking her puppy to security from a attacking Bull

Play time

They need to rest too :)


  1. Detta hade jag ingen aning om! Vilket minspel och uttryck sälarna har. Kul att se.

  2. Men så intressant och roligt! Fina foton som alltid! Ligger denna strand söder om Cleethorpes?

  3. I was planning to go to Donna Nook since I found out about it so 4 years ago, its awesome!. Brill pictures, worth going,definitely :) and the number of puppies is unbelievable!

  4. Kul att se bilder där ifrån. Har sett många bilder från Donna nook i diverse brittiska fototidningar, kul att få höra din beskrivning av hur de har skyddat dem från nyfikna människor och fotografer. Tycker att du fått till många fina bilder på sälarna och tycker att vinkeln är bra trotts staketet.


  5. Men så otroligt läckert!! Har sett en vild säl en gång, förra året, en liten unge och de är ju så söta :))

    Fina bilder från Sherwoodskogen också!!

  6. Hej Jani
    Vad intressant och fotografera sälar. Ungarna är väl för söta! Du har lyckats fånga dom så bra på bild också!
    Kanon! / Sami

  7. Tack Sami och fjällripan för era kommentarer :)