The fall approaches….a new field season bekons….




Autumn in Teesdale, Co. Durham

As the leaves turn to gold and red, and start to rain from the trees in the growing gales, our lab knows its time to turn thoughts to fieldwork again.  Our main study species, the grey seal, breeds during the autumn, so while we gather our field kit, and our waterproofs and woollies, the seals are swimming towards their breeding colonies.  This autumn, we will be returning the Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth off the Scottish coast.  This major grey seal breeding colony is the site where Naomi and Sean began a study into the physiological bases of individual variation in behaviour (‘Personalities’ if you like).  We will be building on last year’s work, by again following individual seals through their stay on the colony and collecting detailed behavioural observations along with heart rate data for these seals.  We’ll hopefully be able to post more info about our work as the season progresses, along with some nice images too. But for now, we are busily trying to fit all out kit into as  few boxes as possible, and to ensure everything is water-tight, in preparation for driving up to the Fife coast, where we will cross to the Isle of May on a boat. The weather forecast looks as if the crossing will be a ‘wee bit bumpy’!



Starting to gather the field kit – in the old days observations used to require little more than binoculars and note books – these days field work involves digital cameras, video cameras, laptops, etc. all of which need a power supply, charging cables and connectors, and need to be protected against the elements and the rigours of transport by boat!




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