Blissful seal enjoys the sun on river bank

Tom Hilder captured Neil the seal enjoying the sun. 

Tom Hilder captured Neil the seal enjoying the sun. - Credit: Tom Hilder

He is a seal called Neil - and his antics have brought joy to a Norfolk community. 

Neil, also known as Cracker to residents in Ten Mile Bank, has given people a lockdown boost after pictures of him enjoying life on the bank of the River Great Ouse, near Downham Market, were shared on social media.

Tom Hilder captured Neil the seal enjoying the sun. 

Tom Hilder captured Neil the seal enjoying the sun. - Credit: Tom Hilder

Neil, who was named by local villagers, is said to be a frequent visitor to the same spot and was pictured back in 2016 by Peter Carter.

Rebecca Carter first shared Neil's sighting on Facebook on Sunday, February 28.

Tom Hilder captured Neil the seal enjoying the sun. 

Tom Hilder captured Neil the seal enjoying the sun. - Credit: Tom Hilder

She said: "Me and my family briefly saw him down by Denver sluice for the first time back in 2016 and ever since then we've known him to be a regular visitor and he seems to be well known amongst the locals.

"My step dad has seen him down by Denver sluice multiple times, and Neil even followed him around when he'd taken the dinghy out.

"From what I know he's been seen down by Downham Bridge too. Some locals seem to know him as Cracker but many know him as Neil."

Neil the seal captured relaxing on the bank of the River Great Ouse.

Neil the seal captured relaxing on the bank of the River Great Ouse. - Credit: Tom Hilder

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Hobbyist wildlife photographer Tom Hilder, who stumbled across him while out on his walk, also shared his captures of Neil lying on the river bank next to Modney Bridge Road.

Mr Hilder said: "I always carry my camera because, as Sunday proved, you never know what you're going to see.

Neil the seal yawing while he relaxes on the bank of the River Great Ouse.

Neil the seal yawing while he relaxes on the bank of the River Great Ouse. - Credit: Tom Hilder

"I set off along the river and I came across Neil at about 10:30am. It was very foggy so I was initially puzzled by the grey lump about 200 yards away from me. Not knowing about him or ever seeing him before, I was in for quite a shock."

The 21-year-old said Neil was laying "blissfully" on the bank as the sun came out which caused him to steam in the mid-morning heat. 

Neil the seal captured relaxing on the bank of the River Great Ouse.

Neil the seal captured relaxing on the bank of the River Great Ouse. - Credit: Tom Hilder

He added: "Some walkers came past, he gave a lazy lift of the head, yawned and laid back down.

"An experience I won't forget, that's for sure."

Neil the seal on Ten Mile Bank.

Neil the seal on Ten Mile Bank. - Credit: Rebecca Carter

Neil the seal on Ten Mile Bank.

Neil the seal on Ten Mile Bank. - Credit: Rebecca Carter

Neil the seal captured in 2016 by Peter Carter.

Neil the seal captured in 2016 by Peter Carter. - Credit: Peter Carter

For more pictures of Neil visit Mr Hilder's Instagram page on instagram.com/thilderwildlife21

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