The diurnal pine marten

The pine marten beside the pond. Is it thinking the frog could be a meal?

The pine marten beside the pond. Is it thinking the frog could be a meal?

The pine marten tries its luck with a red squirrel feeder

The pine marten tries its luck with a red squirrel feeder

A bit more success with a bird nut feeder

A bit more success with a bird nut feeder

It is heartening that pine marten numbers are increasing and that the mammal is extending its range further south. I got a phone call last week from a resident of Methven further up the burn from me to the effect that his neighbour has taken several photographs of a pine marten in her garden. She has seen it several times during daylight hours and managed some good photos of it trying to get into a bird nut feeder and a red squirrel nut feeder.

It is interesting that they have not recently seen the three or four red squirrels that came regularly to their gardens and I have not seen the three that came to my garden for a month now. While I am sure that a pine marten will take an odd red squirrel I cannot see it cleaning out a whole population. Red squirrels are extremely agile wee beasties and can take refuge on or use as runways thin wispy branches on to which a pine marten would not venture. I think this is why a pine marten probably presents a far bigger threat to a grey squirrel.

A recent note from Scottish Wildlife Trust at Loch of the Lowes indicates that their considerable red squirrels population has disappeared as well and that their view is that there is an abundance of natural food making it unnecessary for a red squirrel to come to the artificial feeding supplied in squirrel feeders.

In any event red squirrels have co-existed for thousands of years with pine martens so I am pleased that this beautiful animal has made its home nearby. If its preference is to be diurnal rather than the normal shy nocturnal nature of the species I may even see it soon. Not near my hens and ducks though!

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