The finale of the 2014 Nature Festival was a wildlife cruise on the mv Hamnavoe along the West Mainland cliffs. (David Palmar)

The county’s third annual Nature Festival will run from Wednesday, May 13 to Sunday, May 17.

Details of the programme and event booking will be available in March, but the 2015 festival will feature events from a variety of groups and organisations around Orkney, coordinated by the local RSPB Scotland team.

Alison Nimmo, the community engagement officer who will help coordinate the festival, said: “Part of what has made previous Nature Festivals so popular has been the involvement of many individuals and groups in suggesting and running events. If you’ve got an idea for an event this year, please get in touch at alison.nimmo@rspb.org.uk or 850176.”

The Nature Festival was set up in 2013 through the three-year Enjoy Wild Orkney project, funded by RSPB Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.


Between Christmas Day and January 3, vandals seriously damaged a vehicle at the Standing Stones Hotel, in Stenness.

According to police, thousands of pounds of damage was caused, with all the tyres on the vehicle targeted, as well as the paintwork

As their inquiries continue, police in Kirkwall would like to hear from anyone with information relating to this incident. The station can be contacted on 101.


Police have confirmed that Lynne Mackay – the Stromness woman reported missing earlier today – has been found safe and well.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said they would like to thank members of the public for their help and assistance.


Due to weather conditions, Orkney Ferries has advised that today’s scheduled 4.20pm sailing to Westray will now be as follows:

  • Depart Kirkwall 1520
  • Arrive Westray 1645
  • Depart Westray 1655
  • Arrive Kirkwall 1820
The greenfinch was one of the top ten recorded garden birds in the Orkney in 2014.

The greenfinch was one of the top ten recorded garden birds in the Orkney in 2014.

Folk in Orkney are being urged to take part in this weekend’s annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

According to the RSPB, the population of many of the country’s much-loved garden birds are in decline and the results collected by the Birdwatch help to paint a picture of how they are faring in peoples’ gardens.

Anyone can take part in this year’s survey, and people are asked to spend just one hour at any time over the weekend noting the highest number of each bird species in their garden or local outside space at any one time. Results can be submitted until February 13, via www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch or by post.

The Big Garden Birdwatch runs from January 24-25.

  • The top Orkney birds recorded in 2014 were: starling; house sparrow; blackbird; greenfinch; collared dove; feral pigeon; woodpigeon; rook; pheasant and robin.

Marcus Guthrie was Orkney's Man Of The Match in last week's match v Ellon.

Marcus Guthrie was Orkney’s Man Of The Match in last week’s game against Ellon. (www.theorcadianphotos.co.uk)

Orkney RFC will cross the Pentland Firth tomorrow to take on Caithness, in a BT Caledonia League Division One fixture.

Caithness were defeated when the two sides met earlier this season but are expected to provide tough opposition for Orkney, in Thurso tomorrow. The game is due to kick-off at 1pm.

Orkney squad: Ally Linklater, Scott Rendall, Matthew Byers, Sean Cursiter, David Hamilton, Adam Baird (captain), Danny Bain, Alan Brown, William Thomson, James Linklater, Scott Russell, Graham Poke, Marcus Guthrie, Phil Ross, Denis Hayes. Replacements: PJ McGrath, Derek Robb, Magnus Flett, Taylor Pilkington-Tait.

A view of the Kirkwall basin with an artist's impression of the Phase 2 flood defences.

A view of the Kirkwall basin with an artist’s impression of the Phase 2 flood defences.

An exhibition next month will give the public the chance to view plans for increased flood defences in the Kirkwall harbour area.

A planning application is due to be submitted by Orkney Islands Council in the coming months.

According to the OIC, the plans could see new walls built on the harbour front – from the Ayre Road car park to Shore Street – to provide extra protection from potential tidal flooding.  A second phase could then see improvements made to the existing walls on Ayre Road.

On January 12, 2005, high tides and tidal surges resulted in flooding at the Ayre Road car park with more extensive flooding to Kirkwall narrowly avoided. In 2009, a Kirkwall Strategic Flood Risk Assessment identified tidal flooding as a significant risk to the low lying areas of Kirkwall.

The OIC’s Gavin Barr explained: “This exhibition will allow the public and other interested groups to view the proposals and feedback on them prior to the formal planning application.

“It should be noted that this isn’t a required step in the planning process.  We’re mindful though that this is a key area of the town and that the public will be keen to see and comment on the proposals, so we have organised this event.  The officers behind the scheme will be on hand to talk through the proposals.”

The exhibition runs between 10am and 4pm on February 3 and 4 in the foyer of Kirkwall Town Hall.


Orkney Islands Council, have confirmed that roadworks will be taking place to repair the surface water culvert on Union Street next month.

The repairs are due to start on February 2 and will last for about one month.

There will be a one way system in place and traffic will only be able to drive in a westerly direction on Union Street. Diversion routes will be signposted accordingly.

Huskyan being placed in the water for the first time.

Huskyan being placed in the water for the first time.

A new purpose-built Orkney dive boat was launched from a shipyard on the south coast of England yesterday.

Huskyan has been built for Emily Turton and Ben Wade, who operate Radiant Queen Charters and are based in Stromness, taking divers to the popular wreck sites of Scapa Flow and further afield.

The spacious new boat, which has been built by Newbury Engineering of Newhaven, is 16 metres long and has twin 230hp engines.

Huskyan can carry up to 12 divers at a time and will replace their current vessel Radiant Queen, a restored 52ft former fishing boat, which was built in 1948.

Ms Turton, who explained that the name Huskyan is an old Orkney word meaning strength, said that the boat should in Stromness next month, in time for the 2015 dive season getting under way.

Further details in The Orcadian next week.


Artists and craft makers in the county have just a little over two weeks left to apply for funding from the OIC’s Visual Artists and Craft Makers Awards Scheme.

The scheme is aimed at individual artists and craft makers in Orkney for funding their own projects, with grants of up to £1,500 available.

The fund is managed by the council on behalf of Creative Scotland and in the last round of funding, 17 applications were received with four of these awarded funding.

Pam Beasant, the OIC’s arts officer, said: “The fund has proved very popular and we received some fantastic applications last time. A great application form tells us about the artist’s work, their ideas, their track record and how the project will develop them as an artist.

“We give priority to those that clearly demonstrate the quality of work and an on-going commitment to developing a visual arts or crafts practice.”

For more information, contact Pam on 873535 ext 2406 or at pam.beasant@orkney.gov.uk.

The deadline is Monday, February 9, at 5pm.

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