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

Our top priority currently is identifying landowners to get land access permissions organised.

We are asking all landowners that we haven’t spoken to so far, even if that land is only your garden, to get in touch with us by emailing ONWP.LandAccess@gmail.com.  

We will reply as soon as we can and want to say a HUGE thanks to everyone who has been in touch so far. If you’ve already been in touch and want to help more, please encourage your friends, family and neighbours to drop us an email too. Thanks!

To begin with, we will prioritise organising access permissions for 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.

Amy has managed to speak to most landowners on Rousay and has posted off maps and forms to folk. If you haven’t heard from us yet, please get in touch and if you have received a letter, please reply. Thanks to everyone for their help and support.

In other news, the new SNH Graduate Placement started on Monday and we are delighted to introduce Heather to you all.

Heather is a recent graduate from the University of Stirling with a 1st class degree with honours in Ecology. She is from North Ronaldsay and a director of the North Ronaldsay Trust, she also privately teaches fiddle and mandolin in Kirkwall. Heather says, “I am looking forward to getting my teeth into such a worthwhile project (vital in protecting Orkney’s rich wildlife) and to learning more about invasive species ecology.”

Heather is only on day four and is getting familiar with the various aspects of the project, but she will soon take over looking after the Shapinsay and Hoy incursion responses from Carmen and Rebecca.

We also hope to be able to share news about how last week’s interviews for the SNH trapper vacancy went soon.

 

Meanwhile, Rebecca and Carmen are part way through the fifth round of checks of the extended trapping trial. Two stoats were caught in the traps that have been checked so far. Both were caught in double set traps (two traps in one housing) and in the Hobbister area; one of the traps was baited with egg and the other with dried rabbit (dog treat). While out checking the traps, they have enjoyed seeing lots of nice native wildlife including the progress of the meadow pipit nest.

We have nearly finished bringing in the remaining traps that aren’t part of the extended trial, with just a handful remaining in each location. 

 

Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project

Our contractors will be doing their final round of checks imminently before handing responsibility for these traps back to the project team. Rebecca and Carmen will take over responsibility for the checks from August.

 

Incursion responses

Shapinsay: Carmen was out last Saturday to check the Shapinsay traps. No stoats have been caught. Carmen and Rebecca will be out again tomorrow. They will be joined by Heather as part of her induction and handover.

Hoy: The next round of trap checks will begin next week. So far, we’ve had no evidence of stoats and no stoats have been caught in the traps. Meanwhile, we are making good progress getting access permissions 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, and you haven’t heard from us, please get in touch by email.

And a big thanks to everyone who has given their support so far.

 

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.

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