One of the largest expanses of undeveloped coastal
habitat in Europe, Blakeney Point is a great location for wildlife lovers. It
is most famous for the large numbers of Seals which congregate out on the tip
of the Point.
Point - start your big Seal watching adventure here.|
Photo - Beans Boat Trips
There's also the National Nature Reserve which is an internationally
important site for research on vegetation.
It's one of only a few places
in Britain were shingle bank, sand dunes and saltmarsh occur together, and between
these three different sets of conditions many different species of coastal plants
But it's not the plants which attract the most visitors to Blakeney
Point - it's the prospect of a Seal-spotting boat trip.
are one of Britain's most lovable residents and here at Blakeney Point is no exception.
This three and a half mile long spit of sand and shingle is a favourite
resting spot for Seal pups at this time of year - and although you can walk along
the spit, the best way to see them is by boat.
In fact, the seals are so
familiar with the sight of passing boats that they're not startled at all, which
is great for getting a good view of these fascinating creatures.
be fooled - they may look peaceful and docile but they can actually be quite aggressive,
so it's best to stay on board!
Britain has two types of seal living
on its coastlines - the grey and common seals - and here at the Wash one of the
world's largest colonies of seals can be found.
Interestingly it's the
Grey Seal which is more common, while both types of seal can be grey in colour.
best way to tell them apart is by looking at their noses - grey seals have W-shaped
nostrils while common seals are more of a V-shape.
Grey Seals are also slightly
bigger than common seals, with a higher muzzle and less rounded head.
seals have the ability to seal their nostrils shut while they sleep out at sea
where they float upright - but only for 90 seconds at a time.
quite remarkable in that they can swim at speeds of up to 25mph, despite being
clumsy and slow on land, and they can stay underwater for 10 minutes at a time
without taking a breath.
Grey seals also give out a ghostly moaning
call to each other while out at sea, which was once mistaken by sailors to be
the magical call of a mermaid.
Common seals, also known as harbour seals
due to their habits, give birth here on the remote sandbanks in summer when the
tides are low.
Numbers of seal pups are at their highest during June or
July, when visitors can delight at their cute white coats.
By the time
the pups are weaned, a mere four weeks after birth, the common seal is ready to
breed again and returns to its favourite haul out site, Blakeney Point.
season begins in September, so if you visit towards the end of the season you
might be lucky enough to witness a Seal's mating dance, which usually involves
splashing and rolling around in the water and playful nipping at each other's
When the tides are higher visitors can jump on one of the frequent
boat trips around the Point to watch the Seals at rest and play, and some of the
trips stop further down the beach at the nature reserve.
on dry land
the seals taking up most of the visitor's attention, it's sometimes overlooked
that Blakeney Point Nature Reserve is also a great hotspot for horticulture.
became Norfolk's first nature reserve when it was taken over by the National Trust
in 1912 and has become one of the most important sites in Britain for coastal
Because shingle bank, sand dunes and saltmarsh all occur together
here, the variety of coastal plants and flowers which grow here is staggering.
single banks with their moist, salty soil are colonised by biting Stonecrop, Sea
Campion, Yellow-horned Poppy, Sea Beet and Birds-foot Trefoil, while the muddier
saltmarsh is peppered with Sea Lavender and shrubby Seabite, both of which thrive
in the silty conditions.
Once you venture into the drier sand dunes you'll
see a rich flora of Sea Bindweed and grey-hair grass, as well as Marram grass,
which helps stabilise the dune formation.
It's too hostile for trees to
grow naturally here, although some have been planted and given a helping hand
so that they can attract migrant birds like Little, Common and Arctic Terns.
is a great time to watch the breeding Sandwich and Common Terns - you won't have
any problems missing this noisy bunch!
The trees also provide a habitat
for Puss Moth Caterpillars, which change colour when they're ready to pupate and
spin a cocoon.
photos copyright and courtesy of Blakeney
Seal Trips with Beans Boats