October, the first month in which it starts feeling properly autumnal, kicked off from the first with my two-week work experience at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, near Falmouth.
In the end, two weeks wasn’t enough. It was a fantastic experience getting to know the huge characters of the Sanctuary’s residents; from the grumpy yet compliant grey seal Yulelogs, the ‘class show-off’ sea lion Andre, to the highly emotional group of Humboldt penguins! The sanctuary is most famous for it’s work in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing seal pups, and being the season in which they start to come in I was able to take part in some of this week, feeding and taking the temperatures of the very cute (yet very noisy!) newly rescued pups.
And for my days-off? More seals! I visited the wild colony not far from St Ive’s twice whilst I was down there, which could be viewed from the clifftop above (hence the distance in the photo). Being the grey seal breeding season the beach had plenty going on, including white-coated pups wailing to their mothers, and the beachmaster bull scaring off the most daring males simply by glancing at them!
Whilst I was down there I also took the chance to visit Paignton Zoo, a brilliant place run by the conservation charity, Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust.
A quick trip to London to visit my brother also gave the perfect excuse for another zoo trip, which was of course the Zoological Society of London’s historic collection in Regent’s Park.
Every Autumn for us always hails an outing to Brownsea Island. Slap-bang in the centre of Poole Harbour, it is home to an incredibly biodiverse mosaic of habitats managed by the National Trust & Dorset Wildlife Trust. A huge estuarine lagoon fills with over-wintering waders at this time of year, with particularly large flocks of Avocets and Bar-tailed Godwits. Reedbeds and heathland are surrounded by mixed coniferous and deciduous woodland, which provide an isolated refuge for red squirrels, safe from the conquest of the grey.