Tag Archives: grey seals

Fascinating wildlife fact #14: seals’ whiskers

Seals’ whiskers are 10,000 times more sensitive than our fingertips.


Rescuing seals

Last week I visited the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek (such a fun place name to say – give it a go!). I got to find out a bit about their work rescuing and rehabilitating seals.

The Sanctuary rescues seals in need, provides hospital care for them, rehabilitates them, and, all being well, releases them back into the wild. It also provides a home for those that wouldn’t survive in the wild.

We’re at the start of the pupping season for grey seals in the UK.  So far the weather has been very good, but when the weather turns stormy some pups may need help due to injuries, illness or being separated from their mothers. The Sanctuary is enjoying a brief respite from the busyness of dealing with summer visitors, before the rescue season really gets going. Only one pup was at the hospital when I visited, but give it a month or two and the hospital is likely to be crowded.

I’m a big fan of seals. I’ve had the privilege of snorkelling with them several times, and it’s amazing seeing them in the water. So rescuing poorly seals sounds like a good thing to me. With any wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, there’s always a concern about how the creature will cope when released back into the wild.  Is their recovery complete? Have they lost a healthy fear of humans? And especially if they’ve been rescued as youngsters, will their instincts kick in and help them to hunt, navigate, and do everything else they need to?

I was particularly interested in a poster displayed at the Sanctuary, reporting outcomes from seals they have released back into the wild. It was very encouraging to see that rescued seals can go on to thrive back in the wild. Some have crossed the channel to France, or been sighted off Ireland or the Scilly Isles, so they clearly haven’t lost their swimming ability. Some females have successfully bred following release.

This seems like a good reason to support the Sanctuary to me, so if you’re in Cornwall, why not pay them a visit?

Photo special: Isles of Scilly

Every September my thoughts return to the Isles of Scilly, where Dr C and I spent our honeymoon (and several happy holidays since). Through my work I’ve travelled a lot of the world, but I still think the Scillies are the most beautiful place I’ve been. They’re also havens for seabirds and other marine wildlife. Here are a few of my favourite photos from the Scillies.

Bay on the Isles of Scilly

Oyster catcher
Oyster catcher
Grey seals
Grey seals
Swallow skimming the beach
Swallow skimming the beach on St Martin’s

The Isles of Scilly

Puffins landing gracefully(!)
Puffins landing gracefully(!)

Isles of Scilly11 07 05 Scillies 091_edited-3

Looking from St Agnes to the Gugh
Looking from St Agnes to the Gugh

birds and boat Song thrush

One year in the Wild South

This blog is now a year old, and this is my 100th post. I think that’s a good excuse to have a look back through the last year of posts, and pick out some of the most popular, and some of my personal favourites.

Most popular posts (highest views per month):

The ferry departing from the small harbour on Lundy
The ferry departing from the small harbour on Lundy

Lundy Island photo special – it seems I’m not the only person who thinks Lundy is a special place. I’m glad people seem to enjoy my photography.

Hedgehog and mouse pawprints
Pawprints from the mammal tunnel

Whose pawprints are these?  This post shares the results of my mammal tunnel, which allowed me to capture the pawprints of hedgehogs and mice. It also includes some footage of the nocturnal visitors to my garden.

14 05 25_2808_edited-2In which I search for otters and water shrews, and end up finding something even rarer – my account of seeing water voles in Hampshire. They’re lovely creatures…

Inquisitive seal
Inquisitive seal

Snorkelling with seals – an account of snorkelling with seals in the Isles of Scilly. Lots of photos of one of my most memorable wildlife encounters.

Deer print
Fallow(?) deer print

12 ways to find mammals – A short summary of a talk by Professor Pat Morris on how to find mammals. Not for squeamish – some of the methods involved are rather grim, but some helpful tips.

My favourite posts:

BadgerThe badger cull: an ‘evidence to policy’ perspective: This post explores the case for and against the badger cull, using the principles I apply in my day job working in health research (spoiler alert: the cull is not a good idea).

The mini pond
The mini pond

How to build a mini pond: This post describes how we created a mini pond from a wine barrel. I’ve chosen this one as garden ponds (even tiny ones) are soooo good for wildlife, and ours is continuing to thrive. Hopefully this will inspire you to create one, if you don’t already have a pond.

Harvest mouse on seedheadPhoto special: British wildlife: Some of my favourite photos – hope you enjoy them as well!

Water vole
Water vole

In search of water voles: This describes my first adventure in the British Animal Challenge, and shows some of the signs to look out for with these very rare animals.

House sparrow about to fledgeHouse sparrow chicks have fledged: It’s a pleasure getting to watch nesting birds in the intimacy of their nest boxes, and these were the first chicks to fledge from our camera nest box.

I’ve learnt a lot through both having to research my posts, and from the comments people leave. I’ve really enjoyed working on the blog – thanks to everyone who has read, liked and / or commented on my posts.  I hope you will continue to keep me company on my adventures in the Wild South.