Winterton Beach, Norfolk, is a great place to see seals. It’s next to Horsey Gap, which is a popular spot for viewing seals from on top of the flood defences. I’d visited Winterton last year, with good results, so I was keen to try again this year.
Unlike Horsey Gap where the beach is closed, Winterton Beach is open and you can achieve more pleasing ground level shots. But with a long lens and binoculars, there’s no need to get that close to the seals. I tend to pick a spot and stay there for an hour or two, that way the seals become accustomed to me and often come nearer to me than I would attempt to go to them.
Dominant bulls establish a loose range on the beach and will attempt to mate with a number of cows. Bulls will fight with each other for the chance to mate, but I’ve only seen them chasing each other. A number of the bulls had clear signs of being in a fight, although I’m not sure if some of these wounds were from cows, as they seem to get rather rough with each other (see below) before they actually mate.
Seals are renowned for being inquisitive and I watched a number of pups nosing items on the beach, perhaps like a lot of young ones, they were just bored! The pup below pushed a pebble around for a couple of minutes before losing interest.
The rock groynes mean you have to be careful which direction you shoot in as you don’t really want them in the background, something that isn’t a problem at Blakeney Point, where there are fewer obstructions. It’s also possible to take shots of seals in the dunes. I’m always careful when walking through the dunes as you can end up only feet from a seal before you know it.
I love the way the female below blends in to the beach. I also love the intimate shots you can take between a mother and pup. Like the red deer rut in October, my December trip to see the seals is now a firm favourite.
All pictures were taken with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 80-400mm lens, either using a tripod, elbows or camera bag for support.