THE first grey seal pup of the season has been born at South Walney Nature Reserve, Cumbria Wildlife Trust has reported.

A grey seal pup has been spotted at South Walney Nature Reserve, a month and a half earlier than in previous years.

The pup was first seen on the Cumbria Wildlife Trust seal cam on August. 27 The pupping season at South Walney usually starts in mid-October, lasting till the end of November.

Dr Emily Baxter, Senior Marine Conservation Officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, said: “This is very exciting and unexpected news!

"After one of us spotted a pup on our seal cam we went down to the nature reserve with our binoculars to confirm the surprising news. Sure enough, we saw it with its mum and a male. All looked happy and healthy and the pup was feeding well.

“Grey seals have an annual, synchronous breeding cycle, meaning that females usually return to the same site to pup at the same time each year. This could indicate that this is a new mum who has come to breed on Walney for the first time, although it is not impossible that she could have previously pupped in another location, particularly if she had a bad experience there, such as losing a pup. We have checked our photo identification records and this is not a female that we have previously recorded pupping on South Walney.”

Due to the young age of the seal, it is incredibly vulnerable to disturbance, which would cause the mother to abandon it and the pup to starve.

For this reason, there is strictly no access to the area of the nature reserve where the seal pup is, and so it is not possible to view the pup at South Walney Nature Reserve.

However, the rest of the seals can be seen playing and fishing in the water at high tide, along with thousands of wintering wildfowl and wader birds, from elsewhere on the nature reserve.