Winter is coming - first seal pup of the season born at Blakeney
- Credit: Archant
The first grey seal pup of the season has been born at Blakeney Point - setting the record for the earliest birth date.
The year's first pup generally isn't born until October 31 or November 1, making the new arrival something of a surprise.
This one is a full week earlier than last year's first newborn, and breaks the previous earliest recorded date by three days.
It heralds the start of Norfolk's winter wildlife season, with more than 2,500 pups expected to be born at Blakeney Point, the largest seal colony in England.
Ajay Tegala, of the National Trust team at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, spotted the fluffy white pup while on a coastal winter bird count on Monday.
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Ajay said: 'I was sweeping along the shoreline with my telescope counting birds when suddenly a white seal pup came into view.
'It was a really lovely surprise especially as it's so early but definitely a privilege to be the first person to see it. It was quite far away so I took some photos on my phone through the telescope and shared the exciting news with my colleagues back at the office who were equally surprised but delighted.'
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The pup looks healthy and the team are hopeful it will be weaned off its mother's milk in about three weeks.
The seal colony is sensitive to disturbance, which can lead to abandonment and crushing of the pups, so the National Trust has produced advice on how to responsibly view the creatures.
• The recommended way is to see the seal pups by boat from Morston Quay. The pupping area is fenced off with no access for visitors giving the seals space to give birth and to raise their pups. It is possible to walk but with an arduous six-mile round trip on loose shingle with no facilities, it is not recommended.
• Always keep your distance from any seals you may come across. Please do not try to take your photo with any seals as mothers are protective and males are very territorial which could result in serious injury to you or the death of a pup.
• If you do decide to visit on foot then the team would prefer dogs to be left at home but if you wish to bring them then please keep them on a short lead at all times.
• Please respect fence lines and any advice given to you by National Trust ranger teams
While the next few weeks will see plenty of grey pups born, common seals, which are often spotted at Blakeney and off Hunstanton, arrive earlier in the year, generally around June and July.
Stay up to date with how the seal pup season is progressing and latest counts by clicking here.