SHUTTING UP SHOP
The summer is fast turning into autumn, the neets are drawing in, and the NTS staff are beginning to leave the island. George choppered off two weeks ago and I left a week ago! Sarah will stay for the fledging of the Leach’s petrels, into early October.
It was a busy couple of months before I left. 16 members of the Soay Sheep Project ran frantically around the Village area for two weeks, coaxing the sheep into an elaborate series of traps as part of the annual BIG catch. Hard work, but fun. You just had to cast out of your mind how two Border collie sheepdogs could have done the job in an eighth of the time!!
Everyone was happy, with over 300 sheep caught.
The Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland paid their second visit of the year earlier this month. They were continuing the work of accurately mapping the structures on Hirta.
A planned trip over to Boreray to map the 50 cleits and 3 bothies there didn’t happen due to unsuitable weather.
Incredible to think that there are 80 cleits and a bothy on the lump of rock that is Stac an Armin. Perhaps most of them were built during the long winter of 1727-28 when 3 men and 8 boys were marooned there during the smallpox epidemic. Not much else to do----‘I’m bored, think I’ll go and build another cleit!’
The supply ship Elektron II paid the island its third and final visit of the year this month. As usual traps were put out before its arrival, and checked twice a day for five days after it had left. This vigilance is to guard against the slim possibility that rats may be on the ship and make it ashore.
It amazes me that rats have never been recorded as living on St Kilda in the past. Perhaps the fact that there was no jetty until 1901, meaning that only small, open boats could land, prevented their arrival. Or the large number of hungry cats living in the village area, waiting to gobble them up!
An addition to the staff wardrobe arrived this month, very kindly sent to us by The Stokehouse restaurant in St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia.
A BIG thankyou to them, and also to everybody who made my time on St Kilda so enjoyable. And for all of you that haven’t managed to get over there yet – I just hope you do, it’s well worth it!
St Kilda Ranger, 08/04/08 – 19/09/08