Thursday 11th November comments: Meet the clean-up team. Large active Grey Seal colonies like that on the Isle of May has it all; fighting bulls, attentive mothers and thousands of new born pups. However there is a grizzly side to these colonies as someone or something has to clean it all up!
Over the course of the few months during the autumn, over 2,500 Grey Seal pups are born on the Isle of May. As expected in such big colonies, some young sadly don’t make it and will die (but it is just a very small percentage).
So welcome to the clean-up team, our Great Black-backed Gulls. These monster-sized birds have a varied diet throughout the year as they prey on a variety of things during the summer from seabirds to rabbits. However at this time of year, a dead seal pup or afterbirth is highly prized and they’ll take chances to grab it before another gull does. Interestingly with the onset of the seal season, our local Great Black-backed Gull population numbers increase as birds from the north arrive to take advantage of this autumn feast. Although it’s a bit grim, it’s also nature and these birds help tidy up the Isle of May ready for next season. So hats off to them, enjoy your dinner.