Just to really mess with my internal clock, on top of the fact the clocks have gone back I was also at work yesterday so today feels like Tuesday (but it’s Monday)! Nevertheless, it was a nice day to be out on St Serf’s Isle working with some very, very helpful volunteers.
Grassland on St Serf’s Isle
These volunteers have been working tirelessly since the spring, out on St Serf’s Isle every day since they were taken out there on the boat. They’ve worked on the grassland habitat on the island by keeping down any trees that try to take over the grass. This benefits the breeding birds that are out there, such as ducks, throughout spring and summer as their nest sites remain in place so they can continue to breed on the islands.
We also worked with a couple of farmers who brought a couple of their dogs along to help with the whole process of taking our 117 volunteers off the island. We did this using the boat, and if you haven’t guessed who our volunteers are yet then I’ll explain.
These volunteers have been very helpful as they do the job of managing the grasslands far quicker than we would by grazing the grass down, there’s a flock of 117 of them, and those are sheepdogs.
Yes, it’s come to the time of year when we take the sheep off St Serf’s Isle!
Scottish Blackface Sheep
The process is quite simple:
- Get the tractor and trailer ready on the beach at Findatie, and then take the boat across to St Serf’s to set up the pen and herd the sheep.
2. Get the first load of 14 or 15 sheep on the boat…
3. Take them back across to Findatie
4. Get them in the top deck of the trailer (2 boat loads of sheep in the top, 2 loads in the bottom)
5. Get back to the island to get another load on!
In total it took 8 boat trips and 2 tractor trips to get all the sheep to where they needed to be. The process was quite easy really, it just took a bit of time and occasionally the sheep were a tad stubborn.
Empty boat returning
Getting all the kit packed away
Being by the water for the whole day, I saw some fishy things. Firstly, the head of a Pike that had clearly been predated by something. This allowed me to see for the first time just how pointy their teeth are, and I can confirm, they are very pointy!
Also, a huge Brown Trout was lurking in the shallows at the beach at Findatie. It’s getting to the time of year when you are likely to see dead fish washed up on the shores of the loch. This is because the fish have finished spawning, and when they spawn their immune system goes down quite a lot allowing diseases and infections to take hold. It’s completely natural so there’s nothing to worry about! I did feel sorry for this trout though.
Roughly 60-70cm long, although there are bigger fish about
In other wildlife sightings news, there were a lot of Golden Plovers around the loch over the weekend with around 120 on the spit by St Serf’s. Jeremy also found a Long-tailed Duck hanging out between Vane Farm and St Serf’s Isle. These are usually sea ducks so it’s a good record for the loch!
Otherwise, it’s another week of life at Loch Leven for me to look forwards to!