We recently went on a trip with Charter Discovery to see the seals on Foulness and Potten islands in Essex and I thought I’d share some photos with you. Tickets for this were £20 per person (£10 for under 12s) and the boat trip lasts for about 2.5 hours. It’s a really great thing to do if you’re based in the South East or travelling down here. Children are welcome, too.
What is it?
The seal and wildlife trips explore the creeks by boat on Foulness and Potten islands in search of seals and other wildlife. The trips run from Essex Marina, Wallasea Island and Burnham Town Quay. Our trip ran from Essex Marina. The marina itself is quite a nice place to visit. There seems to be quite a lot of regeneration happening there. I added a couple of pictures of the types of boats you’ll find there below.
The seals are very interested in humans. In some cases they come close to the boat. Known as ‘water dogs’, they do have the same tendencies as dogs in that respect.
I mentioned the trip is £20 per person, but you can also pay £200 and hire a boat that holds 12 people. The trips run most days throughout the summer and even if they don’t have a particular date on their website, you can request it. The trips run on an ad-hoc basis throughout the winter, too.
Here’s a short video we made of the day:
What will I see?
The main reason people go on this trip is for the seals. Around August time, you’ll find female seals and babies as the male seals go off into the sea. They arrive back in September, so if you do visit in September you’re likely to see some males, too.
As well as seals, you’ll see a whole range of birds. The islands along the Crouch and Roach estuaries are full of birds, particularly with Crossrail helping to ship earth to Wallasea Island to bring more birds to the area. You can read more about that partnership here.
From the website: “During March, April, September and October, we have regular sightings of Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Merlin and Short Eared Owls. Waders seen during these months regularly include Avocet, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey and Golden Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Greenshank, Knot, Dunlin and Oystercatcher among others. Wildfowl include: Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard and Shelduck.”
How does it work?
Many of the trips are accompanied by an expert guide from The RSPB. Our guide was great, knowledgeable and funny. They really are experts, so they can answer any questions you may have, however technical.
I’m get very seasick and I felt absolutely fine on this trip, even though it was a little choppy at times. The land is at either side of you throughout the trip, and we stayed in the estuaries.
You do get wet at times. Not drenched, but sprayed. I’d recommend bringing a waterproof coat and maybe taking some extra clothes with you if you plan to go somewhere else afterwards.
Do you have any recommendations for trips of this kind in the UK? I’d love to do some more of them. It’s amazing how beautiful wildlife can be in the UK & it’s easy to forget this and favour places further afield.