Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Donna Nook seal colony

I'm not sure how many people outside of Lincolnshire are aware of the Donna Nook seal colony, or at least how good it is. Certainly I've been going to the place for over 25 years, but it's only in recent years that I have discovered that there is a breeding colony of grey seals there. Perhaps I just haven't been paying attention, or perhaps it's because I don't usually go in November and December, the months when the seals haul themselves ashore onto the saltmarsh and give birth.

And it's not a case of  viewing them through a telescope or even binoculars, these animals are just a few feet away, some easily within touching distance if the signs didn't warn you against attempting it, and not just for the sake of the seals, but also for your own protection. This might look like a zoo but these are very much wild animals with sharp teeth. Up to last weekend there had been an amazing 550 pups born this autumn, so probably around 1000 adults on the saltmarsh. It's an incredible experience to see them so well.

I've always liked Donna Nook since I first went there in the early 1990's. On that first visit I was lucky enough to stumble across a group of birders who had just found an isabelline "turkestan" shrike, and then in 2013 lightening struck twice (almost) and I again stumbled upon a group of birders who had just found an isabelline "daurian" shrike. So I consider it quite a lucky place for me. Grainthorpe Haven, where I saw the pallid harrier yesterday is really just and extension of the saltmarsh at Donna Nook, and that bird had barely shown all day until I got there and today it didn't show at all, so again, a stroke of luck to see it yesterday.

A family party of whooper swans flying over Donna Nook.

The re-alignment scheme at Donna Nook  has really added to the place in recent years. It's a similar Hesketh Out Marsh, a newly created flood area for high tides to alleviate flooding higher up the river. When it's not flooded, it's a great wetland for wildlife, and today I saw a distant rough-legged buzzard, male hen-harrier, 50+ twite and 15 whooper swans, plus plenty of waders, little egrets, teal and brent geese.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Colin, im visiting in the next week or two. I gather the weekends are very busy so it will be a weekday. Would you recommend getting there as early as possible for the best views or is it generally ok at any time of day?


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