A birdwatcher spotted an unusual sight on his birding outing: a herd of curious cows standing around a seal pup trapped in mud.
The five-day-old seal pup was estranged from her mother while swimming in a nearby creek, and became stranded in the marshy fields of Frampton Marsh nature reserve in Lincolnshire, England, where the cows were grazing.
Local birdwatcher Ian Ellis noticed the herd and the seal pup through his telescope. He was advised to move it from the herd by Toby Collett, a staff warden for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), who later came to collect her.
The seal, named Celebration to commemorate Skegness Natureland Seal Sanctuary's 50th anniversary, is a harbor seal. Harbor seals generally give birth in the summer months.
Speaking to the BBC, Ellis said: “There are seals on the edge of the marsh but it was the way the cows were so inquisitive that made me look.”
“Toby picked up the seal and I put it in my coat and carried it to the car park all the way down the sea bank to be rescued.”
Natureland rescues between 30 and 50 seals a year, bringing them into a seal hospital to rehabilitate them before releasing them back into the wild.
Celebration will go through this rehab process until she is of a healthy weight – 27 to 32 kilograms (60 to 70 pounds) – and can fend for herself.
The seal sanctuary is also a visitor attraction and home for African penguins, crocodiles, goats, sheep, and many other animals.