For this year’s challenge we are asking schools to create a piece of writing with a focus on Orkney’s very special native wildlife.
You could write a poem about the striking red feet of the black guillemot, known locally as a tystie; a story about the misunderstood brute of the sky the great skua, known in these parts as a bonxie; a song celebrating the majestic and powerful king of the sea, the orca; or you could focus on the threats faced by our native wildlife. Using the Orcadian dialect is a must with extra credit going to those who use lesser known, nearly lost words. If you would rather perform your piece than putting pen to paper that’s no problem at all, you can send in videos – the more creative the better!
Orkney supports nationally and internationally important populations of wildlife, some of which are extremely rare and declining elsewhere across the rest of the British Isles, including the endangered hen harrier. To give you an idea of how important Orkney is for this threatened species Orkney is home to approximately 20% of the UKs breeding hen harrier population yet it is only 0.4% of the UK’s total land area!
Like many islands, Orkney does not naturally have mammalian predators, such as foxes, badgers and weasels, which allowed the Orkney vole to thrive alongside many species of ground nesting birds. The arrival of the non-native invasive stoat around 2010 changed that by adding pressure on Orkney’s internationally important nesting bird populations. Not only do stoats prey on the eggs and chicks, the stoat also directly competes with our native wildlife by eating the Orkney vole, the primary food source of birds such as the hen harrier and short-eared owl.
So you see, Orkney is a very special place for wildlife, and we hope it inspires schools to celebrate and share this message with their students through creative writing and performances.
There are some rules to consider for your competition entry:
• The competition is open to both primary and secondary schools’ pupils.
• Entry can be one per student or from a Team of 4-5.
• Under-18 entries must come from a school e-mail address or using teacher’s email id. All entries must be submitted using this Entry Form.
• The closing date for entries is Friday 29th October 2021
• Must have a focus on Orkney’s native wildlife and use the Orkney dialect.
• You can send in a written piece, which must not be any longer the 500 words using https://wetransfer.com/. To find out how to get your WeTransfer link, check this website for details: How do I send a link transfer? Alternatively you can post it to FAO Holly Peek, Education Officer, Orkney Native Wildlife Project, H24 Garrison Road, Hatston, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1GN
• In case of performance, the video must not be longer than 4 minutes. Upload the video onto https://wetransfer.com/ and submit the link in this Entry Form.
• For any queries, please email: Holly Peek (email@example.com), Education Officer at Orkney Native Wildlife Project, RSPB Orkney.
The Orkney Native Wildlife Project
The Lost Words
The RSPB Wildlife Charity: Nature Reserves & Wildlife Conservation
Orkneyjar – The Heritage of the Orkney Islands
Wee Windaes – A Continuum o the Scots Leid (nls.uk)