Crosspark is off the wall…although some are firmly on it

Hello again from Crosspark!
Since my last post there have been a few interesting developments! Fans of Betty will be sad to find out that she seems to have weaned her pup and has therefore left to venture out to sea alone. I know, it is very sad. But life goes on and Betty’s friend is making up for her loss by trying extra hard to keep me away. Fortunately using the camera case as a shield seems to be keeping her at bay.
Another arrival over the wall is a male from Pilgrims Haven (to those not in the know, Pilgrims Haven is over the wall behind the hide, Betty and friends are over the side wall). He is…well…a big scaredy cat!! I first came up against this male a few days ago. He realised I was there a bit later than I had hoped (although I have never been accused of lightness of foot) and he seemed to panic (wobbling at pace to and fro searching for some form of salvation). Now, up to now I was reasonably unsurprised, he clearly wasn’t fight-ready and was unashamedly opting for the flight option. However he then did something wholly unexpected. He started to climb…the wall. Yes he decided up and over was the way to go. As if this was not enough, half way through this true feat of strength the male decided that he was significantly better off where he was. And so there he laid, balanced with ballet style poise on top of the wall. I must admit that it was more than vaguely unnerving and I watched transfixed till he removed himself from the wall…15 MINUTES LATER!!!! He stayed on the wall for a quarter of hour. I am not often lost for words but I have nothing witty or otherwise to add.

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The view from Zoe`s hide – look closely on the wall!

So a change of subject is due and I shall move swiftly to the recapture of 4 out of the 5 tagged girls in Crosspark. They have played their parts beautifully and have helped towards our understanding of Grey seals. Although some (like the enigma that is Betty) shall remain very much misunderstood by even the greatest and most understanding of minds. All of the girls were on their best behaviour and were swiftly recaptured and back to business as usual! Now all that remains is for their pups to be weaned and sent on their way.
I realised a few days ago that although I have described snippets of my day I have not yet told the world (or at least the people who read the blog) what a day on the May consists of (oh how thoughtless I can been). So here goes…my day starts with the end of the previous days work. I make sure that all of the seals that I photographed in Crosspark have been identified as a female that has been seen in previous days or has been logged as a new individual. Once all of them have been identified I make sure all photos are collated in files for separate individuals. Once this is done (it usually takes a long time with a lot of staring at spots and trying frustratedly to match them together) its usually time for lunch (hooray!).

Spotting spots - identifying individual female grey seals is all about seeing patterns in their pelage

Then at about 1pm the day properly starts. I put lots of layers on and head out into the very variable Isle of May weather! Once at the hide (after a 5 minute walk, a battle of wits with any seal I come across on the way and an exciting dive over the wall) I set up my camera on whichever seals I need observations on and I sit, intermittently mapping positions and photographing each individual for an accurate ID, till about 5pm when it is night camera time! The night camera is a thermal imaging camera that hooks up to a laptop and takes a video of what the focal seals are doing during the night. The image is in varying shades of grey (white being a nice warm seal or rabbit or mouse depending on your luck and black being a cold area) and shows a lot less detail than the day camera but gives vital insight into Grey seal nightlife. Once the camera is set up all humans retreat back to the house and the night camera watches vigilantly till our return 3 or 4 hours later. Then the camera is packed up and brought back to the house just in time for tea! I think you will agree it is a captivating life I lead, no please jealousy is not becoming.

Zoe's seals at night - a viewed through her thermal imager

Zoe’s seals at night – a viewed through her thermal imager

Now that my exciting day has been documented I shall return to it in earnest, the night camera is due for collection and I cannot express how much I love venturing out in the windy darkness in my very fetching Bear Grylls coat, not so matching blue hat and head torch. I wonder if my friends over the wall will be there to greet me?


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