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.