Welcome to the fifty-second stoat snippet! We have now been producing these weekly updates for a year! We hope you’ve been finding them interesting and useful.

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

Since the last snippet, Ange and Macca have spent some time on Mainland to refresh Macca and to catch up on some office work. You can see from the photo below that he is a serious working dog, even when in the office!

 

On Friday, Ange also accompanied us out in the field to provide some advice to make our biosecurity trapping areas more robust – more information about this is below in the Orkney Mainland Predator Invasion Biosecurity Project section.

Ange and Macca went back out to Hoy on Monday and have been making use of the breaks between the rain to expand their searches out from Rackwick and along the coast near the Old Man of Hoy (see map below). However, again, the foul weather has made progress slow.

  

Carmen and Rebecca have been braving the storms and starting the first check of the trapping trial traps since they were reopened last week for the autumn phase. Hobbister was checked first and one stoat was caught using smoked mackerel as bait in a moorland area. The memory cards from the cameras on the GoodNature traps have been swapped and we look forward to finding out what footage we have very soon. This will be a good job for one the frequent rainy days! The Wideford traps will be checked today and Grimbister on Friday or next week, weather depending.

We are still looking to gather land access permissions to allow trapping and use of stoat detection dogs during the future planned eradication. So, 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

The project team have now taken over responsibility of these traps from the contractors. The Stromness, Orphir and Kirkwall (Head or Work / Carness) traps have now been checked and re-baited. Evie and Rendall are still in progress. We would like to thank all the friendly landowners we’ve encountered this week, we appreciate your support…and supplies of fresh produce to keep us going in the rain!

On Friday, Ange, who has extensive stoat biosecurity trapping experience from New Zealand, came out with us in the Stromness area to provide us advice on making our coastal trap network more robust and effective. She also gave us a hand with trap maintenance in the field. In the coming weeks we plan to add more traps to the Stromness area and re-site a few traps in the other areas. We will be in touch with the landowners that have already provided us with permission to trap on their land very soon regarding new trap locations.

Incursion responses

Shapinsay: Last Friday, Heather was on Shapinsay to check the traps and will be back again tomorrow to do the next checks and some maintenance. She has been adding three nails to the trap boxes to hold the bait up off the floor of the box. No stoats have been caught.

Hoy: Heather has been making a number of trips out to Hoy and will be there today to check the traps and cameras. Again, she has been adding nails into the trap boxes to hold the bait and calibrating the traps. We haven’t yet caught any stoats in the traps but the camera cards are still being processed with help from several keen volunteers – thanks to them! So far, no stoats have been spotted on the cameras (since the probable one last year).

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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