Couple Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

RSPB Scotland are asking the Orkney public to contact them if they hear the elusive bird’s call.

RSPB say that there has been a surprisingly early start to the corncrake season in Orkney this year and the charity are encouraging people to send them further records.

The first reported calling male was heard on April 8 in the East Mainland. Corncrakes spend the winter in Africa and are in Orkney for just a few months when they return to breed in the spring.

However corncrakes have suffered serious declines throughout the UK and much of Europe. In Orkney there were only 14 males last year. RSPB Scotland is asking for help to monitor the movements of these endangered birds so that their habitat can be protected in the future.

Corncrakes are elusive birds which  tend to hide in tall vegetation and are rarely seen. They  have a distinctive “crex crex” call, which is the sound of the males trying to attract a female.

To report a corncrake call, contact Inga Seator of RSPB Scotland by calling 01856 852029, emailing inga.seator@RSPB.org.uk or posting on the RSPB Orkney Facebook page.

 
The men's team who beat their Shetland rivals.

The men’s team who beat their Shetland rivals.

Orkney darts players are celebrating this weekend, following success in the annual contest against their Shetland counterparts yesterday.

The men’s darts team beat their rivals 11-4 in Lerwick to secure the inter-county trophy for the fourth year in a row.

Their win followed an unfortunate defeat for the Orkney ladies, who lost 11-10 on Thursday evening.

 
HMS-Hood

A wartime picture which is thought to show HMS Hood in Scapa Flow in 1940.

Scapa Flow and the naval base at Lyness will feature in the finale of a BBC series exploring the key role Scotland’s shipbuilding played in shaping the Commonwealth.

HMS Hood, the final episode in Clydebuilt: The Ships That Made the Commonwealth, will air on BBC Two Scotland at 9pm on Monday, April 21.

Viewers will see footage of Scapa Flow as the presenter David Hayman uncovers what life was like for the hundreds of people stationed at Lyness who worked to protect the vital North Atlantic convoys.

 

Orkney Islands Council’s tenth Annual Performance Report – which shows how the council performed over 2013 – is now available on the council’s website.

With the publication of the report, the council is looking for feedback on its contents.

Gillian Morrison, executive director of corporate services said: “We are keen to hear what people think about the Council’s performance and also about the format of the report and whether the information is clear.”

This can be done either in writing, by telephone or by completing the online feedback form.

 

Voters in Stromness are being reminded that their polling station for the European Parliamentary Elections on May 22, will be in the OIC’s customer services office in the Northlink Ferry Terminal building.

Stromness Town Hall will host the polling station for September’s Scottish Independence Referendum.

OIC customer services in Stromness will therefore be closed on Thursday, May 22.

Voters from Hoy, Flotta, Rousay, Egilsay, Gairsay and Wyre should also note that their polling station will now be in Kirkwall.

Anyone who wishes to vote by post or proxy, and has not already applied, can do so now by phoning (01856) 876222. New applications for a postal vote will need to reach the Electoral Registration Office by 5 pm on Wednesday, May 7.

The deadline for ordinary proxy applications is 5 pm on Wednesday, May 14.

 

Police Scotland have announced a new initiative to make roads safer for everyone. Through ‘Operation Zenith’,  Police in the Highland and Islands Division are keen to raise awareness and inform all road users of the increased risk of road traffic collisions involving motorcyclists over the spring and summer months.

‘Operation Zenith’ will run between April,17 and  September, 28, 2014, and will focus on improving rider behaviour. The initiative is  particularly aimed at the contributory factors which result in riders being killed or seriously injured.

Divisional Road Policing Unit Inspector Neil Lumsden said: “Twelve motorcyclists died as a result of road traffic collisions in the Highlands and Islands Division between 2012 and 2013 and we deal with more killed or seriously injured motorcycle collisions than any other Division in Scotland. We are keen to raise awareness of the vulnerability of this group of road users, both to motorcyclists and to other road users.

“As part of the operation, we will be conducting high visibility patrols on the areas most popular motorcycle routes, engaging with motorcyclists to improve rider attitudes, promote safer riding and enforce legislation in respect of any motoring offences.”

 

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