Tag Archives: Winterton

It’s all about the seals on the Norfolk coast

From November through to early February extraordinarily high number of visitors come to a relatively remote part of the Norfolk coast, to a place called Horsey.  The number increases year on year.  The beach is ‘closed’ and wardens position themselves in the dunes daily.  It’s an invasion, a huge gathering of people and seals – it’s incredible.

Sunday January 2017

Sat on the edge of the highest dune, we are eating our lunch.  Dunes behind us, beach and sea in front.  A couple approach from the dune side (behind us) with their dog.

Me : Excuse me, there’s a seal in the dune, just down there

Man : (dog not on lead) :  Oh, she won’t go near them

Me (thinking) oh sure (eyebrows raised)

Dog : Sniffing our sandwich boxes, flasks, bags

Woman calls dog away

Man  : Bloody seals, they’re ruining the fishing around here

Me (and Tim in unison) : oh really

Man : Yes.  You’re not into fishing then?  All along this coast, it’s dreadful.  Devastating.

Silence.

After putting the dog on the lead they made their way down to take a look at the ‘bloody seals’.  We watched them from our vantage point then carried on with our lunch.  Some people really get on my nerves.

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The seal pup in the dune

Grey Seals have been coming onto the beach at Horsey in the winter months to have their pups for years.  Their numbers have grown just recently and they have become a tourist attraction.   Horsey is ‘the place’ but they can spread themselves down as far south as Winterton and north as Sea Palling and who can blame them – the beaches are wonderful here.

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Winter walkers out on a normally empty beach

Today we were at Winterton, a small ancient fishing village 15 minute drive from home.  Many years ago Tim and I took a walk from this village – our very first walk together, just the two of us, so it has a special place in our hearts.

These days we regularly walk a 5 mile circuit from here.  Its close, convenient and at this time of the year it’s a mud free zone.  The beach here isn’t patrolled or closed here by ‘seal wardens’ so there’s every chance of getting a bit closer to them.

We set off just before lunch – an unusually late start for us.  As you can see Beach Road was looking a bit busy with parking on the verge, inside the double yellow lines, it gets really messy.  I didn’t like the way the Discovery was parked (below) but loved the old red triumph in front of it.  You can just see the tall 14th century church tower back in the village behind this scene.

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Parking on Beach Road, Winterton (1)

I turned around and took another photo.  More cars, some taking a chance and parking over the double yellows.

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Parking on Beach Road, Winterton (2)

Theres a good sized car park at the top of the road – it’s just not free (at any time of the year!).

Once on the sand we turned left and marched north towards Horsey.  The wind was off shore, the skies had a light cloud and there was  a faint smell of sea weed in the air.  A pinky red seaweed comes ashore here – looks quite pretty.  The photo below isn’t of the weed but of a small pile of bricks.  It’s a sign of how fragile this coast line is – houses simply disappear.

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Bricks on beach – heading north

This was our first pup sighting.  Almost ready to fend for itself by now – the white fur being replaced by grey.

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First pup

Tim took this one (below).  I have to let him keep his hand in every now & then. Ok, it’s a good shot, it might even be better than mine!

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Oh hello

Last but not least. This pup was just below the one in the dune. Right up against the sea wall (just below the over-the-top warning signs). It was asleep this one, dreaming  with its flippers twitching.  I imagine it was about all those fish it would be eating – the fish that it needs to stay alive.

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Do not disturb – Zzzzzzzzzzzz

We left the dunes and the seals and headed off to complete our walk, which I won’t describe as ‘it’s all about the seals’.

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Winterton – from the highest dune (our lunch stop)

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Our local Little Terns

Twitching just sneaked up on us – fairly recently, perhaps over the last 5 years or so.  It’s the sort of thing that people don’t admit to or are embarrassed about but now that we are safely into middle age we just don’t care.

So, every now and again we grab our bins (binoculars) and head out in search for something to spot.  Sometimes to a wildlife reserve, other times when we are just walking in the countryside.  Not always to watch birds but other animals too and these may be totally unexpected or we go out on a mission !

Wednesday evening, out on a ‘mission’ to Winterton Beach we found our local Little Tern colony.  These tiny sea birds fly in from Africa every year and simply nest on the sand, amongst stones.  They are precious because their numbers have been declining rapidly so much so that they are often watched (day & night) by wardens in an effort to protect them while nesting.

The following photos include our approach to the beach with the information board, the fenced off nesting area.  Unfortunately no photos of the birds up close but it was a lovely evening.

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