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  • Matthew Madden

Seals at Ross Sands

Having arrived back from sea at the beginning of April to a spell of distinctly northern weather, it took me a few days to be able to get out and fly my drone for the first time. While I was stuck at home for my first few days, I heard about a large colony of seals hauling out at Ross Sands, near Bamburgh, Northumberland.


Having already gotten the majority of my sensible tasks out of the way, I was lucky to finally get some sunshine and a fairly wind-free afternoon. Seeing the light quickly fading, I tossed a coin and decided to dash out to see the seals. This turned out to have been an excellent plan!


Leaving the car at Ross Farm, I made my way through the farm, over the fields and into the dunes. Managing to avoid a curious cow which had two goes at charging me on my way there, I made fairly good time to the beach where I began walking North towards Lindisfarne, not knowing at all what to expect.


I became quite convinced during the walk that I probably wouldn't find any seals and that they'd probably all moved on to the Farne Islands or over the border into Scotland!


As I approached the end of the spit of sand which makes up Ross Sands, I decided to climb up into the dunes in order to get a better view and not have to approach too close in case there were actually seals. I was shocked when I reached the top to find not just a few seals, but hundreds of them spaced out in two large groups across the beach, with even more out on an island in the tidal waters between the mainland and Holy Island.


Finding a flat spot in the dunes, I hunkered down and began setting up my DJI Mavic 2 out of the breeze, which was still quite cold!


Taking off, I started by trying to take a few aerial photographs of the scene. Taking in the beauty of the leading towers on the peninsula and the views across to Lindisfarne. I also tried a few top-down photos of the seals themselves.


Satisfied with my efforts at photography, I decided to try and dust off my videography skills. Flipping the quadcopter into tripod mode, I made a slow and cautious approach towards the main group for a close up. It was pretty amazing that they really didn't seem bothered by the drone at all! Satisfied with the initial efforts, I made several more passes, circling the colony and observing them from every angle. I also managed to catch some footage of them swimming and even peering at the drone from the water!


Overall, I was very pleased with the decision to visit the seals at Ross Sands, and I was particularly lucky to catch them during the golden hour, just before sunset. What I hadn't realised before I went was that they are part of the largest breeding colony of grey seals in England, with more pups born each year than anywhere else. Usually though, the pups are born in October, so I wasn't disturbing any of the young seals!


Have a look at some of the photos I managed to snap, and stay tuned for my Northumbrian video trailer!




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