Friday 18 September 2015

Inagh Valley Pine Martens

I've been setting out the trail camera for the last two weeks to try and fill a lot of holes in the distribution maps of the current Mammal Atlas. The results of my endeavours has been rather disappointing up until recent days. I think the sensor on my trail camera is malfunctioning as it doesn't seem to be anywhere as sensitive as it used to be. I still managed to pick up some nice activity when I set it up on a quiet forestry road on last Friday. I put out a small amount of fruit and seed to see if it would attract much. A single Pine Marten was caught on the camera in the first three nights and made a few return visits each of those nights. In the second video below there appears to be a small rodent following the marten as it leaves the field of view. I'm guessing it's a Field Mouse, you just can't make it out due to the quality of the video. I would have thought a Field Mouse would run a mile if it encountered a Pine Marten in open terrain like this. The fact that the marten shows little interest in is also a little strange? The marten was seen to scent mark the middle of the track at one stage and a passing Badger was seen to have a good sniff of the same spot only an hour and three quarters later. The only other mammals picked up was a single Irish Hare. I would have expected a Red Deer or Fox given the location but as the camera now seems unreliable I wouldn't be surprised if one or two did pass by without being picked up.

Pine Martens are now very common in most parts of Ireland and Connemara is no exception. They are not easily seen however especially in daylight hours. We usually get a few calls about them nesting in peoples attics during the Spring and early Summer. While they must surely be one of Irelands most beautiful mammals, sharing a house with a family of Pine Martens can be another matter altogether! The young can be very noisy chambering around the attic space day and night and can be very vocal. Then there is the issue of the smell. As they are members of the Mustelid family they have a rather strong pungent smell. The female will bring in many prey items such as rodents, birds, etc. many of which are only partially eaten which just adds to the aroma.

Pine Marten

Pine Marten

Pine Marten scent marking.

Badger sniffing Pine Marten scent marking.


Irish Hare

Pine Marten 2 from Dermot Breen on Vimeo.

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