We set off at 0730hrs, wet, cold, windy. A joy to be on a boat! For the hour journey most stayed below deck … fast asleep. When we arrived we quickly huddled under the nearest trees which offer too few leaves to shelter under and too few trees to make much of a difference. As we descended to the rocky shore to carry out some biology field work we quickly came to the sobering realisation that the conditions were not ‘challenging’, ‘interesting’ or even ‘formidable’, but rather they were terrible! We beat a hasty retreat to the Deer Centre and all agreed that the less said about quadrants and transects the better.
Trygve met us at the marvelous Deer Centre and after David read a rather spirited and entertaining set of parish notices he invited us in. We were all quite taken with the taxidermy found on all walls and tables, a myriad of deer from the majestic Red to the exotic Sika and the downright adorable Munjac. As we waited for the next group to arrive we had time for some well deserved rest and a bit of drying out time.
When the others arrived on the boat we all gathered to hear Trygve talk about his life on Svanøy and how he fits into the world of farming, hunting and conservation. It was entertaining and very relevant and the experience of a man who lives what he preaches is always fascinating. After this we broke for lunch and prepared for Dugnad, a voluntary contribution to making our communities better places to live. We cleared forestry to make parkland for the Red deer, we cleared driftwood from the shoreline grazing for the Fallow deer and we collected a disgusting volume of plastic and refuse from the beach areas.
During this we had a great opportunity to get up close with some beautiful beasts in the shape of a group of Red deer hinds (females). To hear them called by song and have them emerge form the woods and pick their way down the steep slopes to be admired up close is something we will all remember. After this close encounter we headed back to the deer centre before the rain decided to ruin the fun.
Judit, Mariano and Alistair then had a series of discussions and spirited debate about many aspects of humans in the environment and the role of hunters and eating meat, among other topics. All the while the backstage team of Briony, Laura, David and Simon were doing their level best to not burn, mangle or otherwise render inedible what can only be described as far, far, far too many pølse! As the rather successful BBQ died down we looked around to see Trygve was only getting started. He was demonstrating a rather particular method of ancient viking diplomacy. Namely, dual wielding double headed axes and hurling them with some skill into huge targets of wood.
As we tided up Mariano wanted to share his experience of the island with a new generation and set off to take students from the later boat on a hike to visit some charming 17th century ruins and the rest of us prepared to depart. As we left we started to reflect on a day which marked the beginning of the end of the sorrow of absent friends. We had managed a full day without the second years and although there was still some sadness on the boat back the atmosphere was now largely one of smiles and tiredness rather than doom and gloom.
(Written by Biology teacher, Simon Ramsay)