A birdwatcher at Frampton Marsh Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire, U.K., says he didn't find any birds through his telescope, but rather, a much more usual scene: about a dozen curious cows surrounding a seal pup stuck in mud.
Ian Ellis, 67, told ABC News that he was birdwatching about three weeks ago when he "saw the seal was in distress," so he rang for help at the marshland by the North Sea, from where the seal was likely swept in by a tide.
The marsh is under the protection of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which then contacted local seal rescue organization Skegness Natureland Seal Sanctuary for guidance, he said.
"We were able to give advice about how to take the seal out of the situation, and Ellis was able to recover it with the help of wardens," Seal Sanctuary director Duncan Yeadon told ABC News today. "They took her back here to the seal hospital, where she's still recovering in at the moment."
Veterinary staff assessed that the seal was only about 5 days old and discovered she was underweight, very dehydrated and that she had a chest infection that was giving her breathing problems, Yeadon explained.
"We know she wouldn't have survived out there if she was just left there on the beach," he said. "She's now on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and will hopefully be out of the hospital in the next week. Then it'll usually take us about three months to put sufficient weight on her and teach her how to eat fish before we release her back into the wild again."
Yeadon said they named the seal Celebration in honor of the sanctuary's 50th anniversary of operation this year and added that she's "quite friendly."
"She's quite nice, very trusting and accepting of all the treatment we're giving to her," he said. "She's not trying to bite our hands. She's very docile."
Once Celebration fully recovers, she'll be transferred to one of the sanctuary's pools, which is open to the public for visitation, Yeadon added. He said she'll likely be nursed to health for release back into the wild in September.