Bird's Eye View of Bute


(4) Grey Seal

(4) Grey Seal

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Scalpsie Seals

I don’t believe it. There I was perched atop of a big boulder in which I had to fight off many others to claim this vantage spot for a bit of sunbathing, when maw paw and the weans plus their wee dug (which I hate) appeared and made straight for me taking out of their pockets small digital cameras and mobile phones which take photos. They are that intent on getting a good photo; they sometimes get their feet wet in their enthusiasm to get closer.
If I could get a pound of cod for every picture I had taken of me, I could open my own fish shop.

Can we not get any peace around here? As the tide recedes we vie for the best spot and sit on it

sometimes looking like an “upturned banana”. And the reason for doing this? Well look at my coat, mixtures of various shades of brown blotches with a white background, do I not look fantastic? This is because my coat has had time to dry out showing its true colours, whereas if it was wet all of these colours would be hidden. We have got to look our best for the opposite sex, and this is by far the best way to do it, so don't scare us off of our perch, for if we have to leave, and the tide has receded, it is well-nigh impossible to get back up there, so have a care, get close if you must, but if you see us getting edgy and shuffling about, please retreat a few yards and give us a break
You are also told that we have thick layers of fat below our coats, so we do not feel the cold. Who are they trying to kid? We enjoy a bit of sun the same as you do, how would you like to be stuck under water 365 days a year? We even get wrinkles on our wrinkles, so it is very good to get dried out.
Sammie Seal

Well, that is the seals point of view, and it has to be taken with a pinch of sea salt as it was not intended to be accurate, just humorous.
Scalpsie Bay is one of the best areas to view our groups of Common and Grey seals and it involves a nice walk to get there. First way is the low level one, just along the road from Ladeside Cottage where there is a car park with limited parking, through the gate, down through the field (Dogs on leads please) to the middle of the bay, turn right and head along the path and they will soon be in sight, or you can park at the disused quarry , farther along and higher up on the main road, which is now a picnic area and go down the path to a look-out post to observe from a distance, but this is mostly used for tour buses, so the former is the better route, plus it burns up more calories!
The state of the tide will determine the amount of seals that you will see on a day to day basis. If you hit the right time you will be well rewarded with excellent views of our mammals.
They are not too shy, as they have been the public’s favourite for many years and are well used to being in the limelight and are interested in us are we are of them, so move slowly as you approach and you will get very close to them, but if you have a dog, keep it high up on the shore, and keep it quiet. Dogs are not sure of seals and vice versa. Put a dog in the water and as it gets soaked it will look like a Grey Seal, with its long nose with no sign of a forehead, so each of them see the other as a threat, so if you want to get a nice long acquaintance with the seals, observe these points, and you will enjoy seeing the seals on the rocks, and not their backs as they swim away in haste.
There are two types of seals at Scalpsie, The Grey and the Common, and as I said, the grey looks like a dog, with the common ones having a disc like face with a short snout making them appear more friendly that their bigger cousins.
Over the years I have counted these seals at this bay, and on the right-hand shore there have been a highest count of ninety five, and that is on just one little spot of Bute with plenty more at other sites.
Other points to look out for are seals 'bottling'. This is where they stand in the water and float like a bottle, but most of the time that I see them doing this, they are sound asleep, drifting along with the tide oblivious to all and sundry. This seems to happen more where the water is deeper, as it gives them a longer kip if their tails don't hit the seabed.
Next is them 'porpoising', diving then arriving at the surface, then down again, with this happening umpteen times and even going on for a couple of miles.

Norrie Mulholland

First Published in the Buteman 08-12-2006

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