I'll just end it there.
I'm kidding!! These are our current "waiting for Pine Marten" stats.....
19 hrs waiting time and 6 minutes of sightings. Yes - you read that right. However it was totally worth it.
There's something so beautiful about Pine Martens even if they are one of our most accomplished predators.
In 2018 they cleared the nest of Osprey eggs at Loch Arkaig (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-44532518) and stole the rotten eggs from EJ's nest at Loch Garten. One the male discovered an exceptional food stash, he didn't hang around and took full advantage. It's unfortunate and sad, especially for the eggs being incubated however it's nature and as cruel as it is, it's how our eco-system works and we need to respect it.
Moving on to more detail about one of our native Mustelidae. They're part of the same family as Otters, Stoats, Weasels, Polecats, and the non-native (hugely destructive) Mink. While Martens have a fearsome reputation they're massively important to Scotland's wildlife and one of their most popular attributes is the fact they hunt Grey Squirrels. The figures show where you find Martens and Red's in the same area they somewhat compliment each other and make a difference to the Red Squirrel population.
This isn't to say Marten's don't hunt Red Squirrels (they do) but our invasive Grey Squirrels are larger and less agile as well as ground feeders. This means they can't get away as quickly or make use of the smaller, thinner branches of Pine trees like Red's can. This has been proven in both Scotland and Northern Ireland so we should be thankful their numbers are on the up!
About the size of a cat with a creamy orange bib, brown fur, and fluffy tail they're unmistakable, but when you see those claws and sharp teeth you know they mean business. They're omnivores and if you stumble upon some Pine Marten scat you can tell what they've been eating by the colour and contents (yes, I'm going to talk about poo) I have been close enough to some pretty fresh droppings whilst volunteering with Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels at Argaty. If it's dark and sweet smelling they've recently had a more berry based diet but if you can see hairs in it then they've been munching on some mammals.
Here is an interesting fact for you! Pine Martens are one of the species (including Badgers) who can "delay implantation" This means they breed in July but their pregnancy doesn't start until January and they have their kits in March/April - how intelligent is that!
They're primarily nocturnal (hence why it's so difficult to see them) but whilst they're raising their young you can see them earlier in the day (not when we went - got to the hide at 11.30 and one Marten arrived at 8pm)
We hope to bring you more Pine Marten pictures and facts in the future :)