After offering to become one of the local volunteers for the Cwmtydu Bay Wildlife group, I was awaiting the call to say that a pup had been sighted on the beach of our beautiful little local cove.
Sure enough, an email came through from Pauline, the co-ordinator, to say that the watch was to begin as a mother and pup had been spotted on Tuesday. It is thought that the little one was born in one of the sea caves around the corner from the main cove, and was brought to the beach by its mother shortly afterwards. Apparently, a visitor saw him and thought he was a plastic bag washed up on the beach!
Not being able to resist the temptation to go and have a quick peek after work on Wednesday, I was rewarded by the sight of a beautiful little white-coated pup and its proud mum, just metres away from me on the beach. Many beautiful pictures of the little pup were taken by those far more organised than me, whose phone battery was dead that night. S0me of these wonderful pictures will be available on the CBW website in a few weeks time.
As a volunteer, I had my pack of badges, information sheets and postcards for visitors ready by the door, like an expectant mother with her hospital bag ready for the time when baby arrives! My first official watch was on Thursday evening, from 5pm until dark.
Part of our duties are to record what is going on on log sheets, and there was a lot to record that evening...the tide was fully out and the pup had settled next to the stream leading down to the sea. Mum was keeping watch in the surf, but was distracted by the constant comings and goings of the bull seal who is probably the pup's father. His mind is more on making next years pup than seeing how his progeny is progressing, but the mother was fiercely protective, chasing the bull off a number of times. Pup meanwhile, was getting hungry and kept trying to join his mum in the sea. He was already fatter than when I saw him just 24 hours before - the 60% fat milk that the mother produces enables the pup to put on weight at an enormous rate!
A nervous few minutes when the pup was seemingly getting washed into the sea faster than he would have liked by the stream was followed by the rewarding sight of mum feeding him, safely in the splash zone, for about 20 minutes. We have some videos of this which will be put on our YouTube channel over the next few days (guess who left her tablet at work over the weekend....?!)
It was getting darker by now, and the tide was coming in, so both mum and baby flumped (the correct term is 'hauled', but I think 'flumped' is a little more descriptive) up to the top of the beach where they seemed settled. By 8.30 pm, it was pitch dark so the first seal watch was over. What an evening!
As a taster for the next blog, watch this video......more to come later about Saturday's impromptu watch which turned into a marathon session, with more drama than your average episode of EastEnders!