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Donna Nook

nr Stonebirdge, Lincolnshire

Location Guide


Donna Nook is for seal watchers' and it has one of the largest and most accessible breeding colonies of Grey Seals in the UK. Around 3,000 Grey Seals can be seen at Donna Nook, and about 900 pups are born at this site each year.  When autumn gives way to winter the Grey Seals start hauling themselves onto the sand banks and it becomes a seal maternity hospital, and you are almost guaranteed to see them. November and December are the best times to see the Donna Nook seals when there are also wardens available from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust to both protect the seals and organise the visitors.

The best viewing times are during the week when it is quieter and you could have the place to yourself.

J Carter

You can get remarkably close to the seals and they are remarkably tolerant of visitors, but don't forget to respect their territory and safety. The warning signs are a hiss as a first warning with a wave of the flipper from a female usually means back off. They do bite and the males will charge and faster than you think.

Plant life and Bird Watching

Donna Nook's coastline is also a good place to look for plant life. The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Nature reserve has a good variety of coastal habitats from dunes and mud flats to inter-tidal areas and saltings. It covers more than 6.25miles of coastline between Grainthorpe Haven in the north and Saltfleet in the south. The areas of  saltmarsh and lagoons are characterised by sedges and rushes, and attract a wide variety of wading birds.

One of the most common plants is Sea Buckthorn, a dense, thorny shrub with blue grey leaves and orange berries which are loved by birds such as Redwings and Fieldfares. Other plants you may see include:

  • marram and sand couch in the dune areas

  • wildflowers, including marsh orchids

  • yellow-wort, and bee and pyramidal orchids

47 species of bird regularly breed and over 250 species have been recorded in total. One of the easiest birds to spot in winter is the Snow Bunting, which can be seen on the beach with the seals.

Other wildlife which may be seen on a visit include:

  • Mammals such as fox, badger, stoat, weasel and 3 species of shrew.

  • Common lizards

  • Summer birds include red-legged partridge, dunnock, whitethroat, linnet, skylark, yellowhammer and tree sparrow,

  • Winter birds include large numbers of fieldfare, redwing and starling. Woodcock, hen harrier and short-eared owl.

The saltmarsh and open lagoons visitors include a wide variety of migrating waders and ducks but also provide a breeding area for small numbers of coot, little grebe and moorhen and a substantial population of reed bunting and meadow pipit.

The inter-tidal mudflats attract birds such as: substantial numbers of brent geese, shelduck, twite, lapland bunting, shore lark and linnet gather in winter, together with large flocks of knot and dunlin accompanied by a wide variety of other waders in smaller numbers.

The sandflats provide a hauling-out point for grey and common seals, but also supports one of the few breeding colonies of little tern in Lincolnshire. Ringed plover and oystercatcher also nest in this area. Between autumn and spring huge flocks of gulls gather, while large congregations of terns, particularly sandwich tern, are a feature of late summer.

Note: There are several access points off the main A1031 coastal road. There are parking facilities at (from north to south): Stonebridge (GR: TF 422998), Howden's Pullover (GR: TF 449952), Sea Lane, Saltfleet (GR: TF 456944) and Saltfleet Haven (GR: TF 467935). Public access is also possible at Merrikin's Pullover (GR: TF 445958), but there are no parking facilities. Access at Howden's Pullover, Saltfleet Haven and Merrikin's Pullover is down unmetalled roads. Your should note that the Pyes Hall, Warren Farm, Red Farm and Coastguard Cottage entrances are all private and should not be used.

J Carter

Location: Donna Nook, nr Louth, Lincolnshire

Grid Reference: TF422998 Ceremonial County: Lincolnshire

Map Link: Multimap

Aerial photo: Google Aerial Map

Getting there: From the M180 take the A180 to Grimsby and then follow the A16 to North Thoresby turning onto the B1201 for about 4 miles turning onto the A1031 Thoresbury Road follow this until you get to North Somercotes and take Jubilee Road on your left and follow the signs.

Access: For the seal colony from the Stonebridge car park.
Website:  Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust

Other Useful Websites: Wiki   BBC Natures Calendar  

 A Photographers Report   Lincs UK

Email: info@lincstrust.co.uk
Address: near Saltfleet and Grainthorpe Haven, Lincolnshire
Postcode: Telephone: 01507 526667
Opening Times: All Year - best times for seals October-December

Charges: Free including parking except on busy days when a local farmer may open up a field for car parking and charge a fee for this.

Nearby Locations: Gibraltar Point
Other Location Pages:

Notes: No Dogs allowed.

Within an RAF bombing range so observe all red flag and other bombing range warnings.

Keep out of the sanctuary areas

No Public toilets on site


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By: Tracey Park Section: Wildlife Key:
Page Ref: donna_nook Topic: Seals  Last Updated: 03/2010

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