Seals are a common sight on the Norfolk coast. It is home to a number of famous colonies both grey and common seals. Some years ago we came across a single common seal resting in one of the many small rivers outlets that flow across the beach. Thinking it was a one off visit by a lone or injured seal we were surprised to find it still hanging around the area some months later.

Common Seal sighting in 2008 at Titchwell


First Common Seal sighting in 2008

By that summer it had been joined by another seal. At low tide it is always possible to see a number of larger seals resting up on the strand line along this stretch of the coast.

Common seals on Brancaster beach


Common Seals near Brancaster beach

Harbour seal


Harbour seal

Common Seal


Common Seal

In July the following year the numbers had increased and as well as adults two pups could been seen suckling. They also seemed to be becoming very comfortable with the humans visiting the small colony.

Seal pup suckling from its mother


Seal pup suckling

In fact it wasn’t uncommon to find the seals now paying more interest in the visitors. They were curious and would come very close before getting back to playing. Even on occasions fishing in the outlet.

Common Seals Basking


Common Seals Basking

Throughout the winter of that year the group seemed at low tide to be basking on the mud banks and moving further up the river with high tide. Here they could be seen hauling out onto the marsh areas. Obviously word about the seals had spread and was attracting a constant flow of visitors. Access being easier from the other side of the outlet from the nearby beach and car park.

The Common Seal Colony in July 2017

The numbers in the colony by now seemed to have stabilized at about 16 – 20. Last week on a low tide about 18 were present, some showing signs off going through their moulting process after breeding. As well as adults the colony included a number of pups, most of those present seemed to be basking on the bank.

The characteristic ‘head-up, tail-up’ posture


The characteristic ‘head-up, tail-up’ posture

Three very active seals were entertaining the large crowd that had gathered on the beach. Hopefully the increasing human presence wont disturb the colony to the point that they move. As it provides a great place to capture some images of these wonderful creatures from a piece of solid ground instead of the rolling deck of a boat.


Im watching you

Interestingly these seals are not so common as their name suggests.

The UK is home to some 50,000 common seals – about half of the European population. Most can be found in Scotland, but it seems that any increasing number are setting up colonies along the east coast of England.