Happy sheep go home for the winter

One of the flock

One of the flock

A raft of Goosanders drifted across the loch as I set out for the island

A raft of Goosanders drifted across the loch as I set out for the island

A calm morning- things were looking good!

A calm morning- things were looking good!

The boat cuts a line through the water as it crosses the loch

The boat cuts a line through the water as it crosses the loch

After 6 months of uninterrupted grazing on an undisturbed island, the St Serf’s flock have been taken back to the mainland for another winter.  You may remember a blog post earlier this year explaining why we need sheep over on the island through the summer months to graze the grass and prevent too much vegetation growth.  It’s mutually beneficial, with the sheep getting some excellent grazing habitat, and providing us with an excellent grassland management service.

For Scott Graham and his father Jim, the tough part of the process was rounding the sheep up in order to get them on board the boat and back to the trailer on the mainland.  The father and son team were assisted by mother-and-daughter team Kerry and Fly, and as if they knew we were coming, the sheep were very considerately already on the near side of the island, making the herding process that little bit easier.

The sheep were kind enough to be on the near side of the island

The sheep were kind enough to be on the near side of the island

Initial confusion..

Initial confusion..

Jim stops movement in the wrong direction

Jim stops movement in the wrong direction

The flock with St Serf's Priory behind

The flock with St Serf’s Priory behind

...nearly there

…nearly there

Fly in a stand-off with the flock

Fly in a stand-off with the flock

...and they're in!

…and they’re in!

Happy dogs!

Happy dogs!

After a few initial darts for freedom, the sheep were penned in, and the process of shipping them back could begin.  Nine boat loads were required, with the trailer being returned to Leslie after three boat loads filled it up.

Scott and Jim prepare the gates for directing the sheep toward the boat

Scott and Jim prepare the gates for directing the sheep toward the boat

My view from the boat as the first load is secured

My view from the boat as the first load is secured

Not a long journey for you, guys

Not a long journey for you, guys

Kerry lies low in wait, guarding the herd.

Kerry lies low in wait, guarding the herd.

The operation is made much easier by favorable weather conditions, and accomplished boat handling skills are required for things to run smoothly.  The latter took a few runs to master, but by the last few runs we were ticking over like clockwork!

A changeable day it turned out to be, with this spectacular rainbow appearing early in the afternoon

A changeable day it turned out to be, with this spectacular rainbow appearing early in the afternoon

Treasure in the reedbed perhaps?

Treasure in the reedbed perhaps?

The mysterious wheels of St Serf's

The mysterious wheels of St Serf’s

The clouds against blue sky- a classic autumnal day

The clouds against blue sky- a classic autumnal day

Bringing the boat in to the beach took skill and accuracy

Bringing the boat in to the beach took skill and accuracy

The last load brought the fencing with them

The last load brought the fencing with them

The full trailer prepares to depart

The full trailer prepares to depart

With the flock safely off home for the winter, I bid farewell to Scott and Jim and set off back to base.

A fantastic evening to make my way back over the loch, I took the opportunity to take a few more snaps.

Bishop Hill to the west

Bishop Hill to the east

Looking sourth east toward Cleish Hills

Looking south-east toward Cleish Hills

A beautiful autumn sunset

A beautiful autumn sunset

Reed Bower- an island that appeared with the lowering of the loch in the 1840s, and has subsequently been subject to undisturbed natural succession.

Reed Bower- an island that appeared with the lowering of the loch in the 1840s, and has subsequently been subject to undisturbed natural succession.

A rocket to the moon?

A rocket to the moon?

Castle Island

Castle Island

Kirkgate cemetery

Kirkgate cemetery

Boathouse Bistro

Boathouse Bistro

Gull perch

Gull perch

 

About Craig.Nisbet

Reserve Officer Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Scottish Natural Heritage
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s