Welcome to the fifty-fourth 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

Last week Amy, Heather, Rebecca and Carmen attended the Shiant Isles Recovery Project conference which brought experts in eradications from across the world together to celebrate the success of the recent black rat eradication on the islands to protect one of Scotland’s most important breeding sites for seabirds. It was a great turn out; and as Amy and Rebecca have both lived and worked on the islands, it was a good opportunity for them to catch up with old colleagues. The team were able to promote the work we are carrying out here in Orkney, gaining additional support for the project and sharing our current knowledge with others who work in the same field. Congratulations to all who have been involved in the Shiants success - it’s a great example of how non-native species eradication projects have such a positive impact for wildlife!

Ange and Macca have spent most of the last week in the south of Hoy and South Walls. Here is their latest tracking map. No stoats or confirmed signs of stoats have yet been found. We’d like to thank the landowners for being so welcoming and providing shelter and cups of tea, well-timed between rain showers!

 

We had another credible stoat sighting reported from South Walls last week. Ange and Macca headed down there but unfortunately could not find any sign.

Ange and Macca also visited North Walls Community School last Friday. Ange said she had a great morning with the kids, teachers and other community members who stopped by. And Macca was happy with all the attention! Some of the children did some great drawings of Macca to thank them for their visit, some of which can be seen below.

 

The second check of the trapping trial was completed yesterday by Carmen and Rebecca. Ten stoats were trapped in total (5 in Hobbister, 3 in Grimbister, 2 in Wideford). Eight of them were caught in double-set DOC150 trap tunnels and two in single set DOC200 cubbies. This week a wider variety of baits and lures succeeded, including egg, fish, dried rabbit, cat food, beef offcuts and mink lure.

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

Marina has now completed the September check of the traps at Evie and Rendall. The next check of all the Mainland Biosecurity traps (in Stromness, Orphir, Evie, Rendall and Carness) will begin in mid-October.

In addition to checking for catches (one stoat was caught), she has been undertaking trap maintenance and has moved a few traps to a better position to make the network more robust as we have been doing in all five Mainland Biosecurity areas. She has also had a few very special wildlife encounters: last week two seals followed her on her coastal walk to find a trap and on Tuesday encountered a family of otters, the young playing together and mum coming to take them for a walk!

She found also a beautiful pupa in one of the traps. Does anyone know what it is?

Incursion responses

Shapinsay: Last Friday, Marina was on Shapinsay for the weekly check of traps and cameras in response to the recent reported stoat sightings. No stoats were caught in the traps and the camera footage is currently being examined by our awesome team of volunteers.

Hoy: Heather has had some office time this week, helping co-ordinate the SNH office move in Kirkwall but is out on Hoy today so will report on her findings next week. However, the cameras are still providing us with great footage such as the bonxies you can see on our Facebook post.

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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