It is that time of year again. The leaves are changing colours. The air is crisp. Every counter-top in our office is completely covered in boxes and kit. That’s right, it is Field Season!
Grey seals come ashore to breed and give birth every autumn in the UK. Depending on your location in the UK, this happens in either late September/early October (Scotland) or from November to December (England). So, autumn for our research group doesn’t just mean pumpkin-spice flavoured everything, it means it is time to turn off the computers, dust off the equipment and head out to the field to collect another year’s data.
Currently, our efforts are focused on a colony of seals breeding along the east coast of England. The seals will arrive late October (really any day now!) and while most will be gone by early December, a few have been known to hang about until Christmas. This is my second season at this site collecting data for my PhD on male aggression so I hope to see some familiar faces, gather a lot more data and take back some new experiences. This year I will also be joined by 2 other students from Durham University: James , a current masters student interested in how seals use their habitat, will be helping me on the male aggression project, and Sam is starting his masters on female-male aggression.
We will be uploading direct-from-the-field posts weekly (possibly twice-weekly if we’re good). Topics will range from stories about our research, stories about the seals, what we’ve learned and our still unanswered questions, and just general life while doing field research (for the aspiring students out there). So check back in frequently to learn more about these amazing creatures and the work we do!