‘There and back again’

‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better’. But I can’t take credit for that. That was Albert Einstein about sixty years ago. And his observation couldn’t be more precise. The past three months passed very quickly. I guess time flies when you are enjoying what you are doing.

During this period, I had the chance to take part in many bird and vegetation surveys. But even if we had all the knowledge we could retrieve from all those surveys, we still couldn’t save that beautiful ecosystem if it wasn’t for the practical work. And there are many practical jobs to be done. Fencing is maybe the most important one. Ponies play a vital role to the biodiversity of the loch by consuming soft rush, which is undesirable in wetlands for its unpalatability to livestock, but luckily not our ponies. They are definitely not picky. By consuming the soft rush, the ponies give space to other species to flourish and create more habitats for the birds and other local wildlife. If it wasn’t for them, we had to proceed with other, more expensive and demanding methods of controlling the rushes such as ploughing, topping, or chemical control, which could eventually result to watershed degradation. That is why the ponies consist one of the most important weapon in the armoury of the Loch of Strathbeg reserve.

I don’t know if you ever had one of those moments when you close your eyes and remember all the great experiences that you had the luck to encounter in your life. Pictures and moments that shaped your life so far and contributed to this big adventure. To some extent, when I do this, I feel like Bilbo Baggins while he was writing ‘There and back again’. But “my Shire” will always be here in Scotland, even though I am originally from Greece.


Savvas Grigoriadis

 Residential Volunteer