Winter wildlife: seals and birds and sand

We went to the Barnes’ Wetland Centre to see what birds were there last winter. We saw a really fun looking black necked swan with a  red carbuncle – yes correct spelling – on its nose and some Egyptian geese who were just posing for us on a fence. I went right up to them to snap a photo.

Red carbuncled goose

 

Egyptian Geese: What fine painted plumage!

We also heard as well as saw the whistling ducks and the Indian road runners  were also fun to see. On the lake there was supposed to be a bittern but we didn’t see it.

They also rather a nice wildlife hotel – we have one in our garden but it’s not quite like this one – this is clearly meant for the princesses and celebrities to take the penthouse apartments.

Wildlife Hotel: Room at the top?

The weather was rather blustery but we – mainly- managed to stay dry, unlike the next trip where we went to Donna Nook on the Lincolnshire coast where it rained with nasty cold hard bits in it! And very windy… the seal pups were worth it though – very cute indeed. Around this time of year the seal pups start being born.

Some came right up to the fence as they are very curious and older mothers came up too.

Mum and Pup

Over 1000 pups had so far been born there last year and there some 300 bulls fighting it out for their harems and next year’s pups – we saw some but not too aggressive luckily – sometime blood really flows. Apparently bulls’ necks are all blubber – meant for the fighting, and thus once out at sea the water cleans and disinfects, and they heal quickly.

The pups are yellow with amniotic fluid when born and after a week or so it starts to fade. Their real fur comes in – from the fluff – after 3 weeks and then they are left alone by their mothers to fend for themselves. After 2 or so weeks they make their way out to sea and to fish. So a very short life with mother! Just 3 weeks or so… their coats are all sorts of colours for a so-called grey seal – some are spotted and some are brown and some are two tone and every once in 500 a black pup is born.

The cutest pup!

Wonderful sight despite the weather! The pups are basically abandoned once they have been fed by their mother for a few weeks and their coats are starting to colour up. They then don’t feed until they are so hungry they crawl to the sea. It seems very cruel to us but clearly works for them. By the time they hit the sea they are

Pup looking at the view: it’s a long way to the sea…

The view across the sands… it’s wild and cold out there..

If you want to see a video there’s one on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-gEu_jYhwQ

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