Plough and her pup.

Remarkably, we have some real social climbers here on Rona.
Today’s pic shows one such – an old favourite, Plough and her pup. She is approx 80m above sea level and the marks in the grass on the slope show that she’s been up and down from the pup a number of times. I still find this amazing, mostly because I know the effort it takes to get my crocked carcase up and down that slope, and that’s without the recent exertions of birth.

In other news, we are on to a whole new episode in Rona’s hall of fame. It’s “Return of the Pyramid – Sean’s revenge”. Or put another way, a new photo-hide is taking the vague shape of what had been considered a recently retired but venerable construction. Pics of this magnificent erection should follow soon.

We also have our first stage 4 pups, moulting merrily and causing drifts of shed white hair on the grass.

Best from P, S,J & T.

It’s a tad windy.

So when I was told that “The north winds are the worst up there on Rona – they bring the cold” I didn’t think we were going to notice it that much. Well the north winds are definitely blowing and by Jove it’s noticeable! This may also have something to do with the fact that it’s a STORM FORCE 10 out here at the moment. It appeared out of nowhere overnight too.

I was making my way up to the hide, thinking of what individuals I’d be able to recognise (due to their individual pelage markings) when I see the photo-ID hide about 50m away from where it should have been…and on it’s head. We spent the rest of the morning salvaging, and securing the other two hides as much as we could (although we’re sceptical on whether or not they’ll be there tomorrow). All this in a STORM FORCE 10, may I add again – ruddy good fun! The photo-ID hide may be repairable. Although the back panel for it flew off in to the wind and off the cliff when we were trying to dismantle it. So it’ll be more of a photo-ID wind tunnel now…The only thing Sian seems to be preoccupied about though, is whether the cider and wine is secure or not.

In other news, we spent yesterday in the colony – and saw a lot of male-male and male-female aggro – I learnt a lot!

Looking forward to the following days of wind-related fun – no pun intended regarding Sian’s curries.

The weather has turned!

Hello from a blustery wet Rona – those dry warm days seem like a lifetime ago.

We’ve had a very busy weekend – on Friday we were doing photo surveys – to get pictures of as many of the seals in the study area as possible to see who’s here. We reckon without the computer programme for comparison we know at least half of the seals here from previous years. With the programme helping out this rises to about 70% so far.

Saturday saw us venture down into the colony for the first time this year. Close up pictures and pup weighing were experiences new to the TobSiaJam set. In fact, James came quite close to singing soprano again when he let a pup nuzzle him a little too closely – happily, no real harm done to man or beast (as far as we know).

Today’s been grim – gale force mist and rain, making obs a bit difficult. Toby saved the day by creating something great featuring chorizo for dinner. (Food is a real highlight here – we all think we’re eating a lot more than at home).

Monday will start with fetching water from the well before breakfast, making a large pot of porridge, eating and then getting out to the hides for the day.
Listening to the forecast as I type this, we’re in for more of the same. Yeughh.


P, J, S, T.

Seals on the up.

It’s James here – my turn to blog.

The number of seals in the study area is slowly increasing – new arrivals from the sea keeping Toby and Paddy busy and new births to keep me and Sian busy.

I took a short break from monitoring births today to help Paddy with a photo-survey of the study area, which brings our total number of ‘known’ females up to 24 this season, with more likely in the next few days.

Following on from last years efforts to identify seal types (e.g. imbe-SEAL), I’d like to introduce “fifty-shades-of grey seal”. We currently have a male in the study area who, when not sleeping or chasing away other males, seems content with pouncing on unwitting females and biting their flippers, then lying back as they claw at him ferociously. It takes all sorts…

In other news, the weather has finally taken a turn for the worse, but we’re still in high spirits as our hides are keeping us dry and Sian has just made us some popcorn. It’s a hard life…

All the best,


Toby says Hi

Toby here with today’s post. Even though the weather has been amazing for the past few days (allowing me to take full advantage of the time-lapse setting on my Go-Pro) today you can feel Winter is coming.

As my PhD will be examining social networks in grey seals, I’ve been spending a lot of my time looking at female/female interactions these past few days. I hope to find whether or not grey seals have friends. Sealbook anyone?

Also, saw my first seal birth ever today! It was a very rapid process – the pup seemed really surprised at its new surroundings. Hopefully the next few days will bring more – to give Sian and James something to do 😉