18 Oct 2014

18 Oct 14 - Studland Grey Seal

A few times a year, I bump into a Seal around Poole Harbour. Further into Poole Harbour & away from the Studland & Harbour Mouth area, I think they are mainly Common Seals. However, I have seen slightly more Grey Seals around the Studland peninsula, although I have seen some Common Seals there as well. Clearly, they have to pass through the Harbour Mouth to get further in. For the first time, I've had a camera to get some photos to support the identification. Frustratingly, all I normally see is a head poking out of the water & looking around before it drops out of sight again for another few minutes. Only once in Jan 05, have I seen a Common Seal pulled out of the sea & sitting on the rocks between Middle and South Beaches. This allowed the small size & distinctive appearance with the tail & head both curved up, to be seen.
Grey Seal: Looks like a long face so tentatively identified as a Grey Seal. South Beach (16 Oct 14)
On the 16 Oct 14, I spotted the distant shape of a Seal head poking out of the water of South Beach. I took some photos & after looking at them decided it looked like a Grey Seal. A couple of days later I was back down at Studland with Peter Moore looking for Yellow-browed Warblers as Paul Morton had confirmed the Yellow-browed Warbler found on the 10 Oct was still around (or Paul had found another very close to where my YBW had been). We tried where Paul had seen it and then moved onto to check out where my second Yellow-browed Warbler on the 11 Oct had been along the edge of the Littlesea Nature Trail. We had no joy with either YBW, but did find a couple of new Firecrests for the Autumn on the Nature Trail.
Firecrest: I failed to get any worthwhile photos, so here is one from Knoll Beach last year (13 Nov 13)
Walking back to the cars at Middle Beach, I saw what I assumed to be a distant dog in the water, but checked it anyway. A quick scan confirmed it was the Seal & it was still around. A quick 80 metre jog up the beach, got me closer to where it had dived. Unfortunately, it was a bit further out when it came up, but still much closer than where I saw it off South Beach.
Grey Seal: Grey Seals have more parallel nostrils, whereas Common Seals have V shaped nostrils which nearly meet at their bases
Grey Seal: Grey Seals also have a flatter forehead shape, compared to the raised forehead shape of Common Seals
Grey Seal: Head colouration and blotches aren't useful features as both species tend to be quite variable. But this does show the snout is quite prominent (even though it is partly angled away)
Grey Seal: Yawning with boredom at the time we are spending to confirm the identification from the first sighting
Grey Seal: A final view of the head shape, before it dived again