Friday, 6 April 2012

Four Seasons In One Stay - "The Isle of May Experience"

Dressed for the conditions - Fiona and John repair the experimental rabbit exclosures.

Snow on the hills, and the effect of the gale.

Big swell (3.8 m) coming in on the East side of the island

Re-netting the lighthouse keepers garden.

John getting it ready for the seed potatoes.

Some people might be a little apprehensive about being stuck on a small island in a force 8 gale of howling sleet and pouring hail with a couple of over enthusiastic reserve managers but the 3 SNH staff who volunteered to help with the setting up showed no signs of concern. Thier introduction was a cold wet soaking on a bouncy RIB trip over to the island in contrast to the talk from the BTCV volunteers who they passed on the jetty which was all about spring-like sun and summer-like temperatures.  By the time they had made it to the cottages the wind had picked up further and the rain had turned solid. John, Graham and Fiona, ably helped by the human dynamo Marshall, a past volunteer returned put the minor inconvenience of the weather aside and immediately set to and applied themselves to the task in hand. There is never a shortage of jobs needing done and over the next 4 days they tackled making more tern nesting platforms up at the Beacon, repaired the rabbit fencing of the experimental exclusion plots, repaired 3 different observation hides battered by the winter storms, digging the veg garden, repairing the mousehouse toilet doors and putting up visitor signs. As the week went on the weather gradually improved so that they did get to see blue sky and a bit of warm sun and the team applied themselves to everything with vim and vigour despite for some of the time having to wear all of the clothes they bought at the sometime to keep warm.
The overall aim was to give staff in SNH an idea of what sort of work we do on the National Nature Reserves as well as showing off the magical isle while getting some help to get ready welcome the visitors to the island.  The evaluation forms that they get to fill in once they return to their offices will quickly tell what they thought of their "Isle of May Experience", but at least with them going I am hoping for an improvement with the weather.

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