Sarah Dalrymple, reserves officer at the nature reserve, describes what happened: “Yesterday our marine trainees set off the drone as normal to do our fortnightly count of seals. The drone flies very high, to avoid disturbing the seals and other wildlife, and during the flight, we can only track the images on our mobile phone so couldn’t see much. It took several images over about five minutes and when we got back to the office and zoomed into them, we realised that one of the seals had actually been giving birth while the drone was flying above, which was very exciting!”
Aerial view of seal pup birth at South Walney Nature Reserve
Why we use a drone
Due to the young age of the seals, they are incredibly vulnerable to disturbance. This would cause the mothers to abandon them and the pups to starve. For this reason, there is strictly no access to the area of the nature reserve where the seal pups are, and so it is not possible to view the pups at South Walney Nature Reserve. However you can see the rest of the seals playing and fishing in the water at high tide, along with thousands of wintering wildfowl and wader birds, from hides elsewhere on the nature reserve.