If you’re coming to Norfolk and want to experience the natural world, you just have to see the seals. There’s nothing better than getting this close to nature.
The seals are very inquisitive and often pop up and swim around the boats which can usually sail close to the basking seals on the beach which gives a great opportunity for taking pictures.
The colony at Blakeney Point is made up of Common and Grey seals and in recent Winters has been the biggest colony in England.
Common seals have their young between June and August, and the Greys between November and January. Both suckle their pups for about three weeks during which time they grow very quickly.
Grey seals are the larger of the two species, with large speckles on their coats and longer pointed heads with parallel nostrils. The Common seals have a more rounded face with ‘v’ shaped nostrils.
Trips go from Blakeney harbour and Morston quay, usually lasting about an hour, or two in the summer when the boats might land if tides and light make it permissible. You can go with Bean Brothers or Temples.
Blakeney Point is a four-mile sand and shingle spit, with its distinctive blue-painted Lifeboat House, is part of a National Trust reserve. It is accessible by foot from Cley car park, but the westernmost end will probably be fenced off from April to mid-August to protect nesting Terns.
The seals travel on land at just 3 or 4 miles an hour but can reach 30 to 40mph when swimming submerged!
Seals can hunt at night, using their sensitive whiskers to find prey, and will normally spend much of the daytime hauled up on the sandbanks sleeping. That’s when we get to see them!
Don’t try and feed the seals. They’re very good at finding food for themselves, diving more than 100 metres deep to hunt for fish such as sand eels, herring, saithe, whiting as well as bottom dwelling fish like plaice and flounder. Squid and octopus are also frequently eaten.
In the summer you might see Common Terns, Sandwich and Little Terns and also Arctic Terns. Many of them begin to arrive from West Africa in April and breed into the season. They make a small scrape in the shingle where they lay their eggs.
On the sands you might also see Oyster Catchers, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and Dunlin. During the winter months, you might see numbers of duck and geese including Mallard, Widgeon, Teal, Pintail, Pinkfooted Geese. Greylag and Brent Geese usually arrive from October onwards.
There are also seal trips on the Wash Monsters from Hunstanton to see the group of Common seals in the Wash. This area has a large expanse of shallow tidal sandbanks and is fed by four tributaries.
There are now also significant colonies at Horsey (above) and Winterton-on-Sea (below) and you might also see seals turning up in the water or on the beach around the Norfolk coast, in Wells harbour or on the sandbanks at Holkham, or you might spot them bobbing around at Sea Palling and other beaches on the eastern coast. Please, if you are watching the seals by land with your dog, please ensure Fido is well controlled – dogs and seals do not mix.
There are also Summer trips from Great Yarmouth central beach to see the colony at Scroby Sands.