Shooting the Grey Seals at Donna Nook

From the beginning of October, until late December, the beaches at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire, UK, are the place where you can witness one of the most beautiful wildlife shows in Europe.

Opportunity for great wildlife pictures

Grey Seals, also known as Atlantic Seals, come on shore in large numbers, in order to give birth to their pups and then to mate for the next season. The seal colony at Donna Nook is the largest seal colony in England, representing more then 40% of the grey seal population around UK.

What is so special about this place is that you can witness, from so very close, everything the seals do: giving birth to their cute withe pups, nursing and taking good care of them, fighting over territories, mating... . And, of course, you can take great wildlife pictures.

Seals are easy subjects

For the beginners in wildlife pictures, like me, Donna Nook it is the very best place to start. The seals being so close - some of them are less then a meter distance from the public pathway - and so used with human presence, are very easy to shoot subjects. On dry land, they are quite slow and they don't tend to move too much, which makes them ideal targets for the photographers with less experience and even with the basic equipment.

More then that, every seal seams to have its own personality. They are impressively expressive creatures, which is another reason why it is so fascinating and pleasing to take pictures of them.

Don't go where everybody goes

Here are some tips for those who are interested to go at Donna Nook for the seals.

First, you should know that Donna Nook beaches are a natural reserve but also a fire range for the RAF military base with the same name. Make sure that there are no shootings and bombings when you plan your trip. Even if it is odd to have a military base and a protected area in the same place, the seals are no more disturbed by the military activity. The military base was already there when the first seals came on the beaches around it, in 1967. The military protects the seals and pay attention not to harm the animals in any way.

Second, you should ask nicely for permission to enter inside the military base, as you are a professional photographer and that you would like to have some good angles and quiet for your photo session with the seals. Otherwise, you will be directed to the public pathway, where there are thousands of peoples visiting the seals every weekend.

Once you are there, don't try to feed the seals, don't make sudden movements because you can scare them away, take your time and find among them the most collaborative individuals.

My personal conclusions

Of course, after this first trip to Donna Nook, I have a few personal conclusions. Next time, which will probably be next year, I will check the weather prediction. This time was too cloudy, as you can see in my pictures. Well, in England you cannot really rely on weather predictions... If you go there, you'll know why. Next time I will go earlier, probably late October or at the beginning of November. Now I went after the mid of November and the pups had already grown up. And, of course, until next time, I will upgrade my photo equipment, for better pictures.

The feeling of being there, so close to this impressive creatures, to see, to hear them, to feel their smell, was so enchanting and so very different from what I experience day by day in the city life. It was a feeling of serenity and peace of mind, of connection with nature and of real joy, like the joy of a child

Photo credits: Adina Lee, Petrina Calabalic.

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December 08, 2010


Thank you all for the nice messages :)

December 06, 2010


Great images!

December 06, 2010


Ah! very nice!

December 04, 2010


Thanks for sharing your experience, great photos

December 04, 2010


Very nice! ;)

December 04, 2010


Great shots! I like your explanation of the feeling you got while photographing them. Good luck with sales!

December 04, 2010


Very cute! :)

December 04, 2010



December 04, 2010


Great images... I like the eye contact on the first one.

December 04, 2010


Adorable seals. Their heads and face rounded :)

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