Hello, my name is Olly; I’ve been working at the Reindeer Centre (on and off) for about 3 years now. I first came up volunteering for work experience when I was studying Countryside conservation and Wildlife management at Sparsholt College. I started once more this season in May and since being here there hasn’t been a dull moment.
I keep on being badgered to write a blog but I have never been sure what to say. I am also dyslexic and so unfortunately writing is not one of my favourite things to do, but… I do like to take pictures! So here are some photos of mine that I have taken since I have been back with my perspective on them. And as they say, “a picture paints a thousand words”..
Picture 1: May time is calving time, which means its time for 5am starts, in our search for the newborns out on the hill. I often like an early start (as long as I have a strong coffee) as you’re seizing the day. What a day it was, not a cloud in sight and just a soft cooling breeze with the hill alight with the morning sun. I was also excited to see Black Grouse lekking in the enclosure. We eventually found the new mother Gazelle and her wee one, who was a strong healthy male.
Picture 2: One thing I love about it here are all the lochs and rivers, as a few of us at the Reindeer Centre made a New Year’s resolution to jump in a fresh body of water once a month or week. Trying to do this down south was rather difficult and I had to go to the coast to achieve it. But now in Scotland there’s somewhere to swim around every corner. Since being back I have been in 5 different lochs and a couple of rivers. It may be cold at times but you’re surprisingly warm once you’re out, athough I’m usually on a run when I do jump in so the blood is pumping. But I highly recommend an occasional dip.
Nothing like a quick dip to warm (or cool) the cockles of your heart.
Picture 3 and 4: The long socks and trainers were on, my belly was full of stew and the calf was well rested…. It was time for the cows and calves to head out on the free range. We headed out late in the evening to lessen the chances of us bumping into dogs and as we came over the brow of the hill the hills were looking fierce, but the show must go on.
With Tilly leading one of the females (Fern) on a halter; myself, Fiona, Morna, and Ceris followed from the sides and the back in case the reindeer decide to go their own way. At one point they did, but we managed to get them on the right path in the end.
Pushing them out wasn’t so bad. All you had to do was keep the right distance – far enough not to scare them but close enough to keep them moving. Apart from almost falling off the edge of a scree at one point it was just a case of getting them far out in to the hills. As we let them run off, it was rewarding to see calves running up in to the hills alongside their mothers.
Now came the race against the light! We were lucky and just as it became pitch black we made it back to the van, although going through the trees past Utsi’s bridge was rather eerie. We eventually got back to Reindeer House and celebrated with a wee dram.
The clouds looming low over the hills as we set off.
The cows and calves silhouetted against the low cloud.
Picture 5: The woman in this photo herding the reindeer is called Sally. She often wears a shirt with a sunflower design on it which suits her personality to a T. She brings sunshine to Reindeer House as she is a true pleasure to work with, and has to be one of the jolliest people I have ever met.
Picture 6: Though our days are busy and the hills and forestry tracks are a hive of activity, once the clock reaches 5:30pm Glenmore turns into a ghost town. With the sun setting late in the evening, we go to the hills. It is treat to have this on your doorstep and is a grand way to end the day, by gazing into the distance of this colossal landscape. It really makes you think how small we all are.
The hills shining and bright as the sun goes down. We feel like the only ones alive.