Welcome to the fifty-eighth stoat snippet!

These snippets are a short update on the Orkney Native Wildlife Project, which is a partnership between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Orkney Islands Council, and will also try to address any concerns that folk have raised with the project.

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


Orkney Native Wildlife Project

In the last week, we have been busy getting a schedule of works ready for the new project office to make sure it is up and running by early February. We have also been completing the recruitment paperwork for the first five roles – Programme Manager, Administrator, Eradication Operations Manager (2 posts), Biosecurity Officer and Communications Manager.  The first job advert is now live and we hope the other roles will follow early next week. We plan to hold interviews before Christmas.

We will then finalise the paperwork for the next set of jobs including the trappers (10 posts), Community Engagement Officer, Education Officer and Monitoring Officer who will look after the citizen science and research parts of the project. We hope to have these live in the next two weeks with interviews in early January.

The dog handlers and research assistants will be advertised later next year.

Once the job adverts are out, we will turn our attention to securing land access permissions once more. 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 as soon as you can.



Trapping trial

On Monday, Rebecca and Carmen checked and then closed and collected (all but six of) the trapping trial traps in Wideford. These traps caught two stoats. On Wednesday, they were helping Marina put some of these traps out in South Walls to strengthen the incursion response trapping there (see below). But on Thursday, they were back working on the trapping trial and they went to check and close the traps in Hobbister. They were a little delayed first thing though watching a group of 10 waxwings hanging around outside the office.

Yesterday, they checked and closed the traps in Grimbister. Talking of Grimbister, Rebecca was delighted last Thursday to come across a barn owl while out checking the traps.

Once this check is complete, the trapping trial will be finished and all the traps will be re-deployed in north Hoy and on Rousay as part of the biosecurity trap network.


Biosecurity trap network

When Marina was out checking some of the Mainland biosecurity traps this week, she was rewarded with some wonderful views of a female hen harrier feeding. A great reminder of why getting removing stoats from Orkney is so important.

You’ll remember that the Graemsay biosecurity trap network is now in place and will be checked monthly. We hope to start getting further biosecurity traps out on Rousay, Wyre and Flotta in the coming weeks to strengthen our early warning system.

The biosecurity trap network is crucial, but so are folk on these islands continuing to report sightings because stoats could potentially move back and forth between the islands and Mainland at any time.



Incursion responses

Shapinsay: Following Ange’s advice, we have reduced the frequency of traps checks to monthly. However, it is critical that people keep an eye out as a stoat could arrive at any time.

Hoy: On Wednesday Marina, Carmen and Rebecca put an additional 26 traps out in South Walls taking the total number to 70, but please keep reporting any potential sightings. Unlike last week, the weather was glorious and they took some truly beautiful pictures.

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 01463 701670, 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.