Thursday, 30 October 2008

Pine Marten Evening

Yep… the title tells all! Tea/coffee, biscuits, cheese and peanuts were on offer. You can guess who the peanuts were for. Despite being offered a variety of other foods they are the favourite of the Pine Martens visiting this Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve.

The Visitor Centre at Loch of the Lowes is usually closed at this time of year. This is the first year it has remained open and I was delighted to see that they were fully booked for the Pine Marten Evening last night – I was very lucky to get the last place. The chairs were laid out in front of the viewing window. We all sat quietly. The lights were dimmed inside and the binoculars were searching the ground and the trees lit by outside lights.

We all watched, knowing full well that although our time slot was 6-9pm the Pine Martens would not be keeping our time! There was absolutely no guarantee that we would see them visit. Mm… I have to admit that this is the part I have come to love about watching the birds and wildlife in my garden – you really don’t know what you will see (if anything) and often it is the unexpected that catches you out.

To pass the time the staff/volunteers chatted to us about Pine Martens and we asked questions. Video footage taken at the reserve of a visit seen and recorded during the day was also shown. Pine Martens are mostly nocturnal so it was quite unusual to see them then– a fantastic treat for any visitors there that day!

We also saw footage of the osprey nest with female feeding her chick recorded earlier this year. A few people left at various points including all the children that were there. I had to drive almost an hour to get there so I had absolutely no intention of leaving before the end – despite knowing the temperature outside was dropping to levels that I was uncomfortable driving in.

A soft whisper and a finger to the mouth signalled that one of the visitors had spotted the long awaited star of the Evening! A hush came over the room. I managed to set my tripod high enough that my video camera was able to record over the heads of the visitors that were closest to the window.

For around twenty minutes we all watched the Pine Marten eat peanuts from the ground. I kept checking the screen of my camera to make sure it was still reading record!! I was absolutely thrilled that I would be driving home with something very special on tape. I had just seen something that sadly is no longer seen in other parts of the UK. What an absolute treat it is now to share my sighting here. Cue the videos….

Ah yes… queue the videos indeed! Sorry, it appears that Thursday Evenings seem to be a slow/busy night for uploading videos. I am patiently waiting here with my third video still in a queue. Okay I’ll find you some links while we wait. Oh yes… and I should mention that there are another two Pine Marten Evenings here on November 12th and 26th both at 6-9pm. There are only 20 places so if you are interested in going you might want to give the visitor centre a phone on 01350 727337.

Oh… one other thing this visitor centre has a live cam on the feeder that the Pine Marten might come to and that the Red squirrels frequently do. You absolutely won’t believe me here, but honestly, right at this very minute (11.30pm) as I have gone for the live feeder link – there is a Pine Marten at it!! What are the chances of that?

What are the chances of Pine Marten sightings in the wild in England or Wales? Sorry I don’t have the stats for that but earlier this morning I came across a website, The Vincent Wildlife Trust, that would love to know about them.

Mm… I am getting tired waiting now (so must those who left comments on my teaser post too). I would love to post this but not without one out of my three videos - the first piece of film (shown below) that I captured. It is my favourite and has a funny bit where the Pine Marten is startled and lifts its head up with a peanut in its mouth. I have to say I began uploading almost six hours ago and this is the longest I have ever waited for Blip to process my videos. Yep... I blame Thursdays!

How about some info while we wait? Again, after my searching through my books and on the internet earlier this morning I discovered a few interesting sites with photos and info. However, I know only to well there are limits to how many links will be followed in one posting. Seeing as Autumnwatch is being shown on TV here at the moment I have settled on a link back to Simon King with his sightings of Pine Martens in June this year during Springwatch. I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing him tell you all about them!

Are you ready to see my juvenile Pine Marten videos now? The waiting is finally over! Oh dear... I hope you enjoy them now. Update April 2010: YouTube have improved their video upload quality a great deal since this was posted so here we have new uploads. Bigger too!










Finally, I have decided to let this posting run a week to let as many of my regular/new visitors get a chance to see it. Sorry, Joe I won't be joining you for a birdwatch posting this weekend again - I hope you catch something interesting with your video camera.

The videos above were taken near Dunkeld in Perthshire on October 29th 2008.

20 comments:

Jane said...

I was right... I was right! Thanks for the gold star! Absolutely lovely videos. It must have been so exciting to see them. Great post Shirl! Jane

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

wow!
K

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

Fantastic post. Pine Martens are one of the animals I would love to see in the wild. Thank you for giving me inspiration to look for them!

I might have to take a holiday to Scotland to see them though!

Don't worry about the weekend bird post. I hope it doesn't rain for my post again!

Well done,
Joe

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Shirl, what an enchanting creature. I haven't ever seen or probably won't ever see one. Thank you for having the patience for the upload of your video.

shirl said...

Hi again Jane, Karen, Joe and Lisa :-)

Jane – Go girl… go girl ;-) Wear it proudly! I was thrilled to get any video - and in colour. The biggest thrill though was to see the Pine Marten in person :-D

Karen – I agree completely! What luck on my part :-D

Joe – Thank-you! I really hope you manage to see them too. I should perhaps mention that although jam and honey sandwiches are often put out to attract them the staff at the centre sad they didn’t encourage that as it can rot their teeth. If you do holiday in Scotland you should go further north than this to get more a chance of seeing them in the wild. There is other wildlife like the wild cat further north too. I am sorry once again not to join you with a birdwatch – I will have to come up with something special to make up for it.

Lisa – It really was! Funnily enough on researching for my links I noticed that you have your own species in some parts of America. I thought I also read that in some places they are kept as pets too. Oh, I couldn’t not wait on the videos :-D

Sarah O. said...

Shirl, these videos are great! When I was in journalism school, I interviewed the woman who runs our province's main wildlife rehabilitation centre for a feature I had to write. A university the next province over was 'dismantling' its pine marten research, and they had two baby martens that they could not raise (because they were genetically "New Brunswick" martens, they could not be legally released in Nova Scotia, and there was no NB rehabilitator to raise them - they were going to be put down).

Hope (the woman) took the baby martens to raise them and use them for the public education side of the rehab centre. While the little boy marten did not make it (there is a lot not known about martens, especially raising young, which is hard to observe in the wild), the little girl marten did. She lived in the house with access to the outdoor run. She had so much energy, and she was NUTS. She spent the whole interview running around the kitchen, inspecting things, sticking her nose into my pocket and pulling out tissues or climbing up my legs. At one point she was on Hope's shoulder, across the kitchen table from me. I blinked for the briefest second, and all of a sudden the marten was on my shoulder, she leaped that quickly! It was crazy adorable. I love, love, love martens. Thanks for sharing your videos (sorry for the long comment). :)

shirl said...

Hi again Sarah :-)

Thank-you so much for sharing this wonderful story with us. No apologies necessary at all for a long comment – this is the kind that I especially love to receive. They add so much to the posting :-D

I am delighted that you have enjoyed my Pine Marten videos so much. Hand rearing martens must really have been a real challenge for Hope but quite an interest at the centre too.

Pity the male didn’t make it. The female must have been quite tame by the sound of things. It sounds like she was as fast and curious as the red squirrel here. Like a squirrel I have heard they can have quite a painful bite! I must be completely honest I don’t know how I would have felt about one leaping on my shoulder! An experience you will never forget I am certain :-D

easygardener said...

You must be thrilled - what a lovely animal. Who would have thought the humble peanut would attract such a star.

Sarah O. said...

It was a wonderful experience, I was telling people about it for weeks. I can't say I have experienced a marten bite in earnest but Gretel (the marten) did gnaw on my hand quite a bit (as well as munch on my hair). I remember it as being very sharp and prickly, a bit stronger than a kitten's bite. I found Hope's photo album of Gretel here.

Frances said...

Hi Shirl, what a great service you do for the world to advertise about these animals and the birds. You deserve a medal for waiting so long to load your videos for us. And we do appreciate that very much. I had never even heard of this animal and thought you were talking about a type of bird. Now I know and thank you for that.
Frances
http://fairegarden.wordpress.com/

The Black Rabbit said...

I can't believe it!
My first time back on Shirls site for months, and I can't get the vids to work (my computers fault Shirl, not yours) - and of my faves n all - PINE MARTENS!
I'll sort something out and get a cuppa ready!
Have a nice w/e Shirl.
Doug

(Sorry not been visiting recently - I'll make amends from now on!)

shirl said...

Hi again easygardener, Sarah, Frances and Doug :-)

easygardener – Yes, I really in all honesty couldn’t believe my luck! Yep… these peanuts do go along way - our visiting hedgehogs like them best too. Ah… but some animals go to great lengths to get to them too! I cannot believe the damage to the floor of your plastic feeder that the squirrel has made to get at the peanuts above!! I can understand your experiment to beat it. I wonder who’s determination will win ;-D

Sarah – I can understand why. Oh… your hair – I definitely couldn’t have coped with that. Ah… I am not used to cats or kittens. Thanks for the link – the photos look great and must always remind you of seeing Gretel that day :-D

Frances – Oh… I don’t know about that. Funny thing is the uploads of the videos only seem to have time issues when I am I desperate to post them! Most of my videos are very quick to upload. The watched kettle never boiling ;-) Gosh… there’s a thing - if I had never heard of a Pine Marten I might have though it sounded like a bird too. I’m glad to have been able to show you one so you could see what they are :-D

Doug – Now that’s the way it goes isn’t it! Hope you get sorted so you can see them. Pine Martens are one of your favs – great! You might want to click on the photo link to the reserve feeder at the top of my sidebar where you might see them visit there yourself. Enjoy your cuppa! Don’t worry about not visiting I completely know how it is. I have trouble getting round blogs myself. This week I hope to catch up on everyone!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

They serve coffee and biccies to pine martens now? No wonder the little beasties pop over regularly for a visit. ;-)

Great vids Shirl of a wonderful wild animal that has become pretty rare, alas.

Is it raining in Scotland too? It's been raining all day today. Bother!

shirl said...

Hi there Yolanda :-)

LOL, actually to sell the evening to Pine Martens it could have been jam or honey sandwiches but these Pine Martens are just mad about nuts ;-)

Yes, perhaps I should have stressed the rarity of this sighting. That is why this evening was so special. Everyone was so quiet when we watched knowing this.

We’ve been very lucky with the sunshine these last few days – nice again today. Hope the sunshine is with you now too :-D

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh how exciting, what lovely videos, wonderful

The Black Rabbit said...

FINALLY I get to see the vids!

Stunning stuff Shirl.

WELL worth the wait!

Thanks, Doug

Emy said...

hey Shirl, I've decided to come & live in your garden! Now where can I get a pine marten outfit from? Hmmm
I'm recently back to blogging, so I'll come & see yours on a day to day basis! I have a lot to catch up on it seems!

Emy x

Barbara said...

Very interesting to see the videos of the pine marten which almost looks like our "martes foina". This animal is often walking around on our roof (it makes a great noise during night) and in Springtime it is here with the young ones. Sometimes it nibbles the wires of the car ;-( !! Up to now I never saw a real pine marten in free nature. You were indeed lucky to make a film with this little sweet star.

shirl said...

Hi again Juliet, Doug, Emy and Barbara :-)

Juliet – Yes, it really was! Thank-you, I was so thrilled to get any video and it is a great memory for that moment :-D

Doug – Excellent!! Delighted I could treat a Pine Marten fan :-D

Emy –LOL! Welcome back to blogging. See you soon :-D

Barbara – I’ve just looked up an image and see what you mean – they are very alike. I don’t know how I will feel about one walking around my roof – I’d be concerned it would try to get inside! Oh… nibbling car wires sounds like they have squirrel tendencies too. It would be fun to film what they get up to in your garden! I really was very lucky to capture video footage as I did – it did seem like a star that night too :-D

polaris said...

Hi there, Shirl. I, too, enjoyed your videos. I've never seen your site before today. Very nice.

Speaking of Pine Martens, though, I'm going to go see Gretel on Tuesday. I can't wait!