Welcome to the forty-second stoat snippet!

These snippets are a short update on the Orkney Native Wildlife Project and the Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project, as well as addressing any concerns that folk have raised with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB Scotland.

If you are new to these snippets and want to know more about the project, check out this blog.

 

Orkney Native Wildlife Project

Work continues to ensure we are prepared to start the full project if we get the go ahead. This primarily means trying to identify landowners and get land access permissions organised.

Some of you will have spotted that we put a request out this week for landowners to get in touch with us by emailing ONWP.LandAccess@gmail.com.  

To begin with, we will prioritise organising access permissions on identified ‘high-risk’ islands within stoat swimming distance of Mainland – Hoy, Rousay, Shapinsay, Flotta, Wyre, Graemsay etc – because before the project can begin we need to confirm the presence or absence of stoats on these islands.

However, we are also keen for all landowners, even if that land is only your garden, to get in touch. We will get back to you as soon as we can and would like to thank everyone in advance for supporting this crucial project. And we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been supportive so far.

Amy is back from her “busman’s holiday” to the Shiant Isles. And here is what she said:

“My trip to the Shiants was better than expected in terms of weather. I didn’t need waterproofs or thermals once and switched to sun cream and shorts! Unheard of for an entire week in the midst of the Minch. Having been involved in the eradication back in the winter of 2015, it was great to return to see the results of this successful project and be part of the follow up work. Although I was there with the Shiants Auk Ringing Group, who have been visiting for a great many years to study the bird populations, I also worked with the team who are there this summer, discussing how to take over the monitoring to determine the long-term impact of rat removal on populations of seabirds, particularly the puffins, razorbills, guillemots, and shags nesting in the boulder fields and on steep grassy banks.

Alongside this, one of the most noticeable short-term effects for me (apart from not having rats running about where you sleep and keep your food!) is the increase in breeding passerines. Rock pipits, wrens and wheatears surrounded the beach and bothy and meadow pipits were commonplace when walking along the wetland and grassland areas. These would not normally have had much luck, as nesting close to the ground they were easy pickings for the rats. I hope to continue my annual visits so I can stay involved in such an amazing project that is close to my heart. It really is another clear example of why island restoration projects, particularly those involving invasive species eradication work, are totally worthwhile!”

Now she is back, Amy will be trying to finish off Rousay landowner permissions next week as well as supporting the new SNH Graduate Place who starts on Monday. We will introduce her next week. The interviews for the SNH trapper vacancy took place on Wednesday this week too and so we will have news soon.

 

Meanwhile, Rebecca and Carmen have nearly finished with the fourth round of the extended trapping trial. Another stoat was trapped in the Hobbister area. It was in a double set trap using egg as bait. While out checking the traps in the Wideford area, they saw a lot of magpie moths as well as finding a meadow pipit nest in the marsh and seeing a short-eared owl over the farmland. 

We are continuing to bring in the remaining traps that aren’t part of the extended trial.

 

Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project

We have now received the June trap check data. No stoats were caught since the last check. Our contractors will be doing their final round of checks in July before handing responsibility for these traps back to the project team.

 

Incursion responses

Shapinsay: Following the new sighting, Carmen and Rebecca have deployed more traps in Shapinsay so there is now 40 traps across the island. No stoats have been caught, but this nice damselfly was spotted on top of one of the traps. Carmen will go to Shapinsay on Saturday to do the next checks.

 

 

Hoy: We’ve still had no evidence of stoats and no stoats have been caught in the traps either. We are making good progress getting access permissions for the next stage in the incursion response but we’d really appreciate your help to finish this off.

If you own land in South Walls and Hoy, even if it is just your garden, please get in touch by email. And a big thanks to everyone who has given their support so far.

And please remember, if you think you’ve seen a stoat on Hoy or South Walls please report it immediately by phone or email to using the details below.

We take all sightings extremely seriously and really need people to be as vigilant as possible and as quick as possible at reporting any potential sightings. Stoats are more active at this time of year, so please keep an eye out when out and about.

 

Answering your concerns…

Remember, if you have any comments or concerns please contact north@snh.gov.uk or orkney@rspb.org.uk, or by calling RSPB Scotland on 01856 850176 or SNH on the number below.

Once again, don't forget to keep reporting any sightings of stoats, as soon as possible, to SNH by calling 01856 886163, by emailing north@snh.gov.uk or through the ‘Stoats in Orkney’ Facebook page.

And to keep up-to-date with the project, please follow our Facebook page.

 

Anonymous