Every year SNH recruit the help of a local shepherd and his flock, to manage the sward of grass on St Serf’s Island. This is important primarily because it prevents the grass from growing too long for the wintering Pink-footed Geese, and it also promotes re-growth when grazed.
The operation has become easier in recent years after we purchased our new boat, which is specifically designed for transporting sheep in Shetland. The previous boat required special wooden fencing, and was more difficult to get the sheep on and off the boat.
A calm day makes all the difference with such a heavy load on board! Each year the flock goes out early in the summer, freshly clipped and young. Each autumn much larger sheep leave the island, having enjoyed a relaxing summer in a predator-free environment, with plenty of nutritious grass to munch on.
These young sheep will put on considerable weight during their time on the island…
Scott catching up on some sleep on one of the many crossings!
It’s always a bit of a kerfuffle getting off the boat, but once they’re on the island it’s peace and quiet for the rest of the summer!
The last sheep takes a leap to the island…
…and they’re home free! They just have to decide where to get started now….
This year over 150 sheep went over on 8 boat trips, increasing the size of the flock by 30 to ensure that they fulfill their purpose whilst over there. We’re continually grateful to Scott Graham of Leslie for assisting us with this reserve management task, and his sheep get a good deal out of the agreement too!