Publishedduration3 days agoshareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightPA Mediaimage captionThe pups are normally carefully counted by hand

The annual seal census at one of Britain's largest colonies has had to be carried out by drone because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fewer National Trust rangers were able to stay on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, to monitor them.

Instead the trust has filmed the islands via drone and conservationists will count the grey seal pups remotely.

Drone pilot Ritchie Southerton said initial images suggested it would be "an amazing year for the seal pups".

Although he had previously helped with the count this is the first time the population survey has been done by air alone.

The pups are usually counted individually by rangers who walk carefully through the colony and mark each one with a harmless vegetable dye to indicate they have been recorded.

But the pandemic has meant fewer rangers could safely stay together on the islands and some have been furloughed.