wildlife,  NATURE,  Environment,  PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS



Seal 49 Donna Nook


Common seal



My first ever trip to Donna Nook was on Imbolc Day, or the 1st Febuary 2009.  In Celtic tradition, always a day of weather forecasting!


The ancient celts would certainly be proclaiming Global Cooling!  With snow forecast and high winds, it turned out to be quite an ordeal.  I had family and two 4-year olds in tow, who had been assured it was a simple and short walk out to the seals.  Not so.  An arctic blast from the east took every last drop of energy from them and on seeing the seals for just a second, had to make a prompt return to the car and a cosy pub.  I was given a 3 hour allowance to try and justify the 4 hour drive.

As I settled down, I was unsure how close I could get to the seals.  My first attempt saw many flee for the sea.  Despite my short time allocation and the freezing temperatures, it was obvious that some patience and field craft may be necessary.  This was confirmed by my friend, Elliott Neep, who happened to be there with his friend.  The 3 of us had the place to ourselves.



Seal Common 04




It wasn't long before the fine sand, blasting across the "tundra" soon became lodged in every nook and cranny of my camera.  I was very worried and actually spoiled the experience somewhat.  It was my new 5D mkII and its first UK trip.  But if that wasn't enough, it started hailing then snowing, and became added into the whirlwind of sand (photo above).  At times I couldn't see, and sand got my eyes and down into my clothes.  My gloves became sand-encrusted, which of course endangered the camera I was holding.  Thankfully, I had the lens and body "mostly" covered by a purpose made protector, albeit one that continually needed placing back in place.  But this didn't stop the lens from attack by wet snow and sand - something i didn't dare wipe off with my trusty scrim cloth.





Seal Common 15                                                                                               Seal Common 31



But in between bouts of gale force sandblasting, the great British weather gave some delights.  The cloud formations were stunning and breaks in the clouds at times formed, allowing shafts of sunlight through.  It was a very intense experience at times.

The below image is perhaps my favourite memory of the trip, as it was at this point I couldn't actually see through the viewfinder for sand and the inevitable misting up of it.  I aimed, squinted through the viewfinder from 6 inches away, and hoped!  There was no way I could check the LCD or histogram to check I had the image as I wanted it.


Common Seal

Seal Common 20





Grey seal


Seal Grey 44 group



This photo was one of my last of the day and another favourite.  I had carefully crawled up to a grey seal group with my wide angle lens to be just 5 metres from them (not easy!).  The steely grey clouds were fantastic, and the sun was breaking through top right of the frame.  There was no shaft of light as I wanted, but it was good enough. Of course, a sky like this means storm!  And it did.  Minutes later I'd had enough and left them in peace.






Seal Grey 15 wave



A couple of wave shots breaking over the seals. 

I had to wade a little to get these shots resulting in freezing wet feet to add to my misery.





Seal Grey 55 Donna Nook


A rare break in the weather heralded worse to come.  The storm was out to sea and heading my way.


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