Welcome to the seventy-second 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.

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

We have now finished our interviews for the Senior Research Assistant and the three Research Assistants, so should have more news next week. These roles will be doing the wildlife monitoring for waders, voles, meadow pipits and skylarks this spring and summer.

Amy, the Monitoring Officer who is responsible for the survey work, is really keen to hear from everyone who would be happy to have the wildlife monitoring take place on their land, please email ONWP.landaccess@gmail.com as soon as you can.


The second Eradication Operations Manager, Jason, started on Monday, along with Education Officer Lindsey. More trappers are due to start on 4 March.

One of the first things Lindsey is doing is looking for help from local schools and youth groups to inspire the design of our new logo. We are asking young people to create drawings of some of our native wildlife. The pictures can be of individual, groups of species or set in iconic Orkney landscapes.

The iconic native wildlife we have in Orkney includes hen harriers, short-eared owls, the Orkney vole, waders including curlews, lapwings, redshanks, oystercatchers and seabirds including puffins, tysties, terns etc.

We would prefer to focus on the native wildlife on Orkney, rather than on stoats, particularly as there will be opportunities for artwork on stoats to be done later for other elements of the project. We would also prefer for domestic and non-native animals not to be included in this ie no pets and no cows, sheep, hens, ducks etc.

In addition, for ease regarding data protection, please could you only include the first name and age of the child on the drawing.

Schools and groups can scan and email the pictures to Lindsey.Taylor@rspb.org.uk or send them to the Orkney Native Wildlife Project c/o RSPB, 12-14 Northend Road, Stromness, KW16 3AG.

Any received before 15 March will be used to help inspire a designer to create our new logo, but any received after this might also be used by the project team, on social media or in blogs etc.


The tender for the supply of six conservation detection dogs closed yesterday and we will review any bids in the coming days. These dogs will play a key role in the project to help check “high-risk” islands to make sure that stoats don’t spread during the eradication and towards the end of the eradication to search and pinpoint areas where stoats remain so that trapping efforts to catch them can be targeted and intensified. You can read more in last week’s snippet.


We are also buying lots of the equipment we need for the eradication and monitoring parts of the project including GPSs, tools, first aid kits, OS Maps, compasses, rechargeable batteries etc.. all the things we need to keep the team safe while in the field.


And the biosecurity and incursion trap checks are also continuing. 


Trapping Trial

The report from the trapping trial is still being finalised. Thanks again to all the landowners that took part. Please do feedback to us about any ways we can improve how we worked with you for the future. We will be in contact with everyone again soon to get new permissions in place for the eradication trapping.

On Wednesday Carmen, Rebecca and Bethan went to collect the last handful of traps at Wideford.

While today, Anita, Bethan and Graham are collecting some of the monitoring tubes from the Grimbister area as we start to bring in the final few bits of kit.


Biosecurity trap network

Mainland: Last Thursday Marina checked some of the Evie traps with Bethan shadowing her. It was a beautiful day and felt like the start of summer which is odd for February. They didn’t find anything in the traps. Marina was in Kirkwall yesterday checking some of the traps there. Carmen checked the traps in Orphir with Anita on Tuesday. It was a warm and sunny day, with lots of curlew along the shore, and they found one rat caught in the traps they checked. Today Rebecca is checking the traps in Stromness.


High-risk islands: Shapinsay is not due for a while, but the Graemsay traps will be checked today by Carmen and Sarah. It is widely thought throughout Orkney that there are no rats in Graemsay. So, we thought it might be of interest to folk that we have caught a rat in the biosecurity traps that we have on the island. It was back in December and so it seems that there are rats on the island although we didn’t find anything in the traps when we checked them last month. We will update you on this month’s trap checks next week.

The trap network on Rousay will be put out as soon as weather and more pressing demands allow.  



Incursion responses

Hoy: We are planning to do the next checks of the Hoy traps next week. It’s crucial that folk in Hoy and South Walls remain vigilant and report any potential stoat sightings immediately.

South Walls: See above.



Answering your concerns…

Remember, if you have any comments or concerns please contact north@nature.scot or orkney@rspb.org.uk, or call 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