Welcome to the Orkney Native Wildlife Project blog

Our regular blog shares the latest news and updates from the Orkney Native Wildlife Project. If you are new to our blog and want to know more about the project visit our website www.onwp.org

What we are doing during lockdown

Lockdown has meant we have temporarily stopped our trapping and monitoring work, but there are other areas of the project that we are still working on for the next weeks. One of these is our new website which will bring together information about native wildlife, news and events, educational resources and ways for you to get more involved. It will also be a place to report any stoat sightings. These records are so useful, helping us determine stoat numbers and identify new areas to place additional traps. Thank you for continuing to report stoat sightings just now through the Stoats in Orkney Facebook page or emailing stoatsightings@rspb.org.uk

   Stoat carrying a vole


Trap safety during lockdown

Recently our team had to respond to reports of people tampering with stoat trap boxes, removing the lids and exposing the traps. Please help us to keep our communities and staff safe at this time, by staying away from any stoat trap boxes you may see on your daily walk. As soon as restrictions are lifted, we will back out to check the full trap network, but if you have any concerns about traps, do contact us at the above email address.

The Orkney vole

The BBC recently repeated the fantastic programme ‘Britain’s Ancient Capital: Secrets of Orkney’ which includes a fascinating insight into Orkney’s native species of vole. Using DNA sequencing and archaeological remains of vole bones and teeth showed our voles have been on Orkney over 5000 years ago and are most closely related to vole in Belgium, not Scotland. Orkney voles are one of the native species threatened by stoats and are important as they are only found here in the world and provide a vital food source for other native species including hen harrier and short eared owl. The programme is available on iPlayer this month if you want to catch it again at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b087vh70

   An Orkney vole

Welcome to Grant

Grant Blackley travelled from the southern hemisphere (before Covid19 restrictions), where he was a biosecurity detector dog handler at the New Zealand border, to join ONWP as a conservation dog handler. He will be working with stoat detection and tracking dogs on the eradication project. An ex-shepherd from the Scottish Borders, he is re-acquainting himself with the Scottish climate.

   Grant at his previous job in New Zealand