Welcome to the fiftieth 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

Ange and Macca finished checking Rousay last Thursday and went to Wyre on Friday and walked the perimeter. The map below all shows the tracks they walked on Rousay and Wyre.

 

You can read more about their time on Rousay in last week’s blog. They didn’t find any signs or scent of stoats on either of the islands during their visits.

However, there is the risk that a stoat could arrive at any time so please keep an eye out and report any potential sightings immediately by calling 01856 886163, by emailing north@nature.scot or through the ‘Stoats in Orkney’ Facebook page.

On Tuesday, they walked the outer perimeter of Graemsay and on Wednesday they walked tracks to fill in more of the centre of the island. It sounds like Macca was very popular with the schoolchildren he met on the boat too.

  

Today Macca has his first vet visit, one of quite a few which he must do to make it simpler to get back in to New Zealand later this year. Then this evening they will head to Hoy.

Meanwhile, Carmen and Rebecca have been putting out some Goodnature traps ready for the start of the autumn phase of the trapping trial next week. These are in 11 locations at Hobbister – half in farmland and half in moorland – and will be baited with the stoat lure and monitored with a camera but won’t be active because these traps are not legal for use in Scotland yet. As you might have read last week, they are legal in England and Wales and we expect them to be added to the list of legal traps in Scotland in the coming months, so we want to see if they might be a good option to use during the eradication.

They have also continued with doing checks, maintenance and calibration of traps in the field and have been bringing in monitoring tubes from Wideford that were part of the original trial. Heather has been helping by maintaining and calibrating some of the traps that are currently not in use in the trapping trial. They are now being stored in outbuildings to ‘weather’ before being placed back in to the field. This helps to make the traps smell more natural which makes it more likely that stoats will enter them.

One of the things the team has also been doing is adding bait platforms to the traps (see photo below). These are small pieces of wood with three nails which elevate the position of the bait in the trap. We have added them to try to help preserve the integrity of the base of the trap and, by making the bait more visible, we hope it will help coax more stoats to enter the traps too.

As well as maintaining and placing traps, Carmen and Rebecca have been helping to digitise landowner maps and access permission details so that all our records are up-to-date and backed up. It’s not the most fun job, but it’s essential as our landowner records start to increase.

If you own land in Orkney, even if it’s just your garden, and we haven’t spoken to you, please email us at ONWP.landaccess@gmail.com.

 

Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project

We still haven’t received the latest data from our contractors, but will update you once we know more. We have now taken over the responsibility for these traps.

 

Incursion responses

Shapinsay: Last Friday, Heather and Marina were on Shapinsay to check the traps and Heather will be back again tomorrow to do the next checks.

As you know, two weeks ago, Ange and Macca didn’t find any confirmed signs or scent of stoats, but we are leaving the traps out as a precaution until they can get back to do some additional checks.

Hoy: Heather and Marina were out in Hoy again on Tuesday and Marina was also there on Wednesday checking traps and cameras.

We’re really excited that we have a new volunteer, who has kindly agreed to help us go through the camera trap footage from the many cameras we have out in Hoy. It is a time-consuming task so we are incredibly grateful for the support.

At the moment, so we don’t get behind with checking the camera footage, we are only able to check the traps in Hoy every two weeks or so (along with the weekly checks on Shapinsay). We’d like to check them slightly more regularly so having a volunteer to help check the camera footage is a great help.

We often get some great footage or Orkney’s native wildlife captured by the cameras traps too and Heather was very happy to discover otters at play when going through some of the memory cards earlier this week.

So far, no stoats have been spotted on the cameras (since the probable one last year) and none have been caught but we hope to get a clearer picture when Ange and Macca visit. They will arrive in Hoy today and, due to the size and nature of the landscape, will probably be in Hoy for a month.

It is incredibly important for the future of Orkney’s wildlife that land access permission is granted for Ange and Macca to check as much of the island as possible.

So, 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 HUGE thanks to everyone who has given their support so far.

 

Answering your concerns…

Remember, if you have any comments or concerns please contact north@nature.scot 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@nature.scot 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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