The Pine Marten is about the size of a domestic cat and belongs to the weasel family, with long bodies and a dark brown fur blending into a cream coloured throat, they have fairly large eyes and protruding round ears.
An elusive creature, the Pine Marten is mostly found in the North of Britain. It prefers woodlands, climbs very well and lives in holes in trees, in old squirrel dreys or old birds’ nests. Pine Martens feed on small rodents, birds, eggs insects and fruit, and although rare, can be encouraged to visit bird tables. During the mating season, Pine Martens make shrill, cat-like calls. In the spring, they have litters of 3-5 young, which are independent by summer.
The main predator against Pine Martins is in fact Humans but in the wild they are occasionally hunted by the Scottish Wildcat, Golden Eagles and Foxes. The Pine Marten in Scotland was almost extinct in the nineteenth century due to farmers and gamekeepers trapping them because they fed on the lands game birds. They were also captured and killed for their fur to export across to Europe. The destruction of many of Scotland’s forests and natural habitats are another reason why Scotland’s Pine Martens have become rare today, the loss of these forest habitats have had such an impact on not just the Pine Marten but also many of the other animals and plants that once thrived in our great forests.
The fenced area in front of you (which was originally cleared of bracken by our two pigs) is going to be planted with Scots Pine – our only native pine tree – but with so much of our native Caledonian Forest destroyed in Scotland, it’s proving difficult to buy young trees to start the regeneration process.
Fencing on our Reserve is unusual – a nature reserve shouldn’t really have them, but this fence is to protect the young trees from deer…. they love young Scots Pine – it’s their snack of choice!