Donna Nook Wildlife Sightings

Wildlife Sightings (updates received from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust)

Photograph of Donna Nook, North Somercotes, November 2009

Photo by D.Dobson

Donna Nook, North Somercotes, November 2009

Grey Seal Colony Report – 2009

Summary

·  Another reasonable year, with pup production up 4% compared with the previous year, at 1371 pups.

·  95 dead pups were recorded & 10 pups were rescued and taken to Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary, giving an estimate for pup mortality of 7.6%.

·  Approximately 60,160 visitors came to see the seals, a drop of 2.3%.

·  41 volunteers gave a total of almost 1400 hours to the cause; a magnificent 200 mandays!

Summary table of grey seal numbers during the breeding season

DUNES

RANGE

Date

Bulls

Cows

Pups

Pups

30/10

60

33

13

4

06/11

185

274

135

10

13/11

305

613

425

43

20/11

344

955

842

46

27/11

331

975

1082

89

04/12

309

629

1154

28

11/12

211

275

935

18/12

76

75

585

25/12

11

9

65

01/01

1

2

18

Adults - Grey seals were present on the reserve throughout the year and using the standard estimate for grey seal populations (pup number multiplied by 3.5), there are c.4800 grey seals associated with this breeding colony.

Pups - The first live pup was born on the Range on 15 October and was washed into the Dunes area by high tides on the 16 October; without its mother, it was in a poor way and was taken to the Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary. The first Dunes pup was born on 27 October, the earliest date ever recorded. Pup numbers peaked with the count of 27 November, when there were 1082 at the Dunes, 89 on the Range and 26 elsewhere.

The last pup was born on 23 December

Pup production for the year is estimated as follows:

            Peak count on 28 November      1197

            Dead pups prior to peak count       56

            Births after peak count               118

                                                           1371

Pup production increased by 4% this season, with pup numbers reaching a new record of 1371.

The Farne Islands increased by 2.1% (pers.comm J.Walton, National Trust) to 1346 pups, their highest since 1976. At the other end of the scale, the Norfolk coast colony increased by 43% to 290 pups (pers.comm John White, Natural England).

95 dead pups were found and 10 abandoned pups were taken into care at Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary, giving an estimate of pup mortality for this year of 7.6%. Farne pup mortality was estimated at 49.2%.

The pup mortality rate at Donna has come under scrutiny this season, with the increasing disparity between the Dunes and the Range and the possibility that disturbance (by photographers) is partly the cause of the greater mortality on the Range. Counting dead pups is not straightforward – establishing what is a new corpse each week is difficult without marking them in some way and the extra disturbance that would be caused by this operation is deemed unacceptable. Also, some pups from the Range are lost to sea or their corpses/abandoned pups are washed in and counted in the Dunes area, eg following the peak count of 27/11 (Range:89 pups), a high, rough sea topped the outer bank and the next weekly count produced only 25 pups, whilst 5 abandoned pups were rescued from the Dunes area and 24 dead pups were recorded in the Dunes over the following three weeks. At the end of the season, 60 pup corpses were recorded in the Dunes area (collected for disposal by SERCO), which compares with a total of 57(Dunes) and 27 (Range) from the weekly counts. Whilst the weekly counts might be an overestimate (double counting), clearly some dead pups are never recorded due to the pups being washed out to sea. The actual figure for pup mortality this year probably lies somewhere between 5% and 11%.

Visitors  - 60,160 visitors were counted at the seal colony during the period 24 October – 4 January, which is a decrease of 2.3% compared with previous year. The tiny drop in visitor numbers may be explained by the wintery weather at the end of December. Whilst overall visitor numbers were down, the biggest daily total was achieved this year, with an estimated 6,000 people on Sunday 22 November. The Arundel’s overflow car parks and their mobile toilets were invaluable, often coping with huge volumes of traffic. The overflow parking was in daily use during the peak visitor season.

A new all-access path (funded jointly by Natural England, MOD Defence Estates & LWT) was constructed just prior to the start of the season. A lack of rain and the onslaught of thousands of feet before the material had consolidated caused some initial concerns but remedial work was successful and the path proved a big hit with visitors of limited mobility. Puddles were a novelty but proved popular with our youngest visitors and the extreme ice on Boxing Day also proved very interesting!

There were visits by several school and university groups.

All requests for interviews from the media were declined (although information was given), except for a late-season interview about traffic congestion as a result of the large visitor numbers.  Donna Nook seals were shown on national and local television, in several national newspapers and across the internet.

The warden and assistant warden were given tremendous support by the volunteer seal wardens. The volunteers are the most crucial part of the Trust’s management of the seal colony and this year, 41 stalwarts gave a total of almost 1400 hrs. This fantastic support ensured another successful season.

R.Lidstone Scott

Can we ask visitors to use the parking facilities and not block peoples driveways and drive respectfully through the village.

 
Update from 18th December - Seals are leaving in droves, over 600 cows left in the fortnight upto last Friday. Loads of newly independent pups getting everywher so dog walkers just need to be a little cautious even to the Pyes Hall side of Stonebridge car park. Pup numbers are up again, to 1357 at last count. I expect final count to be about 1370(up from 1318 last year). Visitor numbers will probably be in the mid 60k.
Recent birds: nice flock of snow buntings and twite has been in and around seals this week. peregrine landed on the saltmarsh last saturday

Donna Nook Wildlife Sightings - please send any of your photos to nspcdobson@btinternet.com so we can put onto this website.

Donna Nook 7.11.09: Beautiful sunny day, see photo above. Please if you have some better photos please forward them to the above email address with your details and I will put them on the site.  160 pups to date.

Donna Nook this past week 5.11.09: Thousands of winter thrushes including fieldfare, redwing, blackbird and song thrush flying in off the sea. a ring ouzel, lapland bunting, water rail, several brambling, stonechat, blackcap, yellow-browed warbler, bullfinch, goldcrest and woodcock. Oh yes, and the seals have started pupping - only in a small way to date but the first pups have appeared.  If anyone is visiting the area to look at the Seal Pups please try and visit on a weekday if possibe as the traffic can get quite busy.

Update from Donna Nook - September 2009
Looking at the Bird Club site, recent sightings have included a good bird of prey day on the 30 August when an osprey, 2 marsh harriers, a common buzzard, 2 hobbies and 2 sparrowhawks were seen. There have been impressive numbers of terns travelling south. Over 200 ringed plover were counted on the beach on 29 August.

15th June 2009 - Latest Bird News: a golden oriole seen again on the reserve. Reported this morning

Grey Seal Colony Report – 2008/9 - By R Lidstone-Scott from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

Summary
•Another good year, with pup production up 10.4% compared with the previous year, at 1318 pups. Farne Islands also reported 1318 pups,so honours even this season.
•95 dead pups were recorded & 8 pups were rescued and taken to Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary, giving an estimate for pup mortality of 7.8%.
•Approximately 61,600 visitors came to see the seals, a decrease of 8.3%.
•41 volunteers gave a total of almost 1300 hours to the cause; a magnificent 186 mandays!

Adults
Grey seals were present on the reserve throughout the year and using the standard estimate for grey seal populations (pup number multiplied by 3.5), there are c.4600 grey seals associated with this breeding colony.
‘Ropeneck’ returned this year, having been absent in 2007. A yellow-tagged (55??) cow recorded near the fence was thought to be ‘Bella’, the cow that was satellite-tracked in 2005. There was a single sighting of a ‘V’-branded cow (branded as a pup on the Isle of May, 1991) on the 27 October.

Pups
The first live pup was seen on the Range on 15 October, along with 4 dead pups.  High tides brought several Range pups into the Dunes area but the first Dunes pup was not born until 28 October. Pup numbers peaked with the count of 28 November, when there were 1075 at the Dunes, 65 on the Range and 33 at Skidbrooke Ridge.
The last pup was born on Christmas Eve.
Pup production for the year is estimated as follows:

Peak count on 28 November - 1173
Dead pups prior to peak count -43
Births after peak count - 102
Total -1318

Pup production increased by 10.4% this season, with pup numbers reaching a new record of 1318.
The Farne Islands increased by 12% (pers.comm J.Walton, National Trust) to 1318 pups – so an unexpected draw this season! At the other end of the scale, the Norfolk coast colony increased by 20% to 201 pups and there were a reported 400 pups at Blakeney (pers.comm John White, Natural England).
95 dead pups were found and 8 abandoned pups were taken into care at Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary, giving an estimate of pup mortality for this year of 7.8%.


Visitors
The two main huts (Wardens Hut & Shop) were erected (as described in the 2001 report) on 18 Oct, manned daily from 22 October to 5 January and dismantled 28 January. The smaller hut was erected at the southern end of the fence, as in previous years.

61,570 visitors were counted at the seal colony during the period 22 October – 5 January, which is a decrease of 8.3% compared with previous year. The road closure at Saltfleet (a main approach road from the south) may have put off some visitors and there was also some ‘bad weather’ weekends in December. Whilst overall visitor numbers were down, the biggest daily total was achieved this year, with an estimated 5,500 people on Sunday 16 November. The Arundel’s overflow car parks and their mobile toilets were invaluable, often coping with huge volumes of traffic – up to 1700 cars on the busiest day. The overflow parking was in daily use during the peak visitor season.

There were visits by several school and university groups.

All requests for interviews from the media were declined, although information was given. Donna Nook seals were shown on national and local television, in several national newspapers and across the internet.

The warden and assistant warden were given tremendous support by the volunteer seal wardens. The volunteers are the most crucial part of the Trust’s management of the seal colony and this year, 41 stalwarts gave a total of almost 1300 hrs. This fantastic support ensured another successful season.

22nd November 2009
Seal Pups total pups born on reserve by Sat 22 Nov was 934 - looks like it might be another record year!
10,000 visitors the weekend before but weather reduced numbers to only 4000 this weekend.

Other wildlife sitings
Glaucous gull still present and feasting on afterbirths.
Desert wheatear now gone from Saltfleet but steppes grey shrike was still present at weekend.
One or two snow buntings seen

received 28th September 2008
No specific dates or places but the last week or so has produced lots of nice records
mostly at the Pyes Hall end of the reserve:
common buzzard,
honey buzzard,
short-eared owl,
greenshank,
curlew sandpiper,
great grey shrike,
pied and spotted flycatchers,
yellow-browed warbler,
pallas's grasshopper warbler
loads of goldcrests.
Skeins of pink-footed geese have been seen almost daily this weekend
minimum of 51 little egrets recorded on reserve.

Seal Season should commence mid November and we hope to keep you informed of any updates.  Should you wish to visit to take a look at the Seals the best times are early November until end of December weekdays are best due to the huge amount of traffic weekends.  Also when you get near to the area please follow the yellow signs and not use your satellite navigation system.