And so it began…after weeks of anticipation we were finally on board the helicopter and approaching that oh-so-iconic landscape of rugged hillside, ancient stonework, sheer cliff edges and of course the Soay sheep dotted in the meadows. The next 7 weeks went even more quickly than I expected they would – I guess time really does fly when you’re having so much fun.
After a busy couple of weeks focused mainly around population censuses, we were joined by another two volunteers, bringing the Sheepie team up to a grand total of five, and started the main purpose of our trip – lambing! It was a reasonably gentle start, but after a couple of days of ‘baby-boom’ we quickly learned the ropes; from taking precise instructions on radio, to mastering the art of crooking, and even perfecting our bleating to keep Mum’s attention while we tag her lamb. As our confidence grew we all found ourselves performing the occasional floor-dive in a bid to catch a plucky lamb – however scratches and bruises are soon forgotten when there’s a gold star at stake!!
As the days went by, the lambs grew not only in size but fearlessness…a brief walk along the Street would undoubtedly lead you to one of the many gangs of 6 or 7 lambs, who were brave enough to leave Mum’s side to climb rocks or belt through the meadows. They have unlimited energy (sometimes, as lambers, we learnt that the hard way…) and leap into the air as if on springs which is so much fun to watch. Who needs TV!?
A fantastic 7 weeks on the most beautiful island, with a great team. And it took a lot of restraint on my part to not take one of those gorgeous little lambs home with me!!
Text and Photos provided by Becky Holland (volunteer field assistant, Soay sheep project) - thanks for contributing!