PINE MARTENS AND PEANUT BUTTER
By CHANTAL COOKE
How many pieces of peanut buttered bread can you fit in your mouth in one go? If you’re a female pine marten it seems the answer is five.
That may seem a little greedy but this particular pine marten, no more than a foot from me, has a litter of kits to feed.
Pine martens are elusive at the best of times, but in the UK they are rare and only found in north western Scotland. So, unless you are an excellent naturalist and willing to wait, perhaps days, to see one, the offer of almost guaranteed viewing at Glen Loy Lodge is difficult to ignore.
Glen Loy Lodge is an old hunting lodge situated in Banavie near Fort William. It is run by keen naturalists Jon and Angela, who offer a selection of wildlife watching holidays where you can visit a range of sites including montane, coastal, woodland, freshwater and peat bogs. They also offer specialist days looking at birds, butterflies and wild flowers.
But even if you’re just stopping for the night, you can still enjoy the wildlife on their doorstep – the pine martens being the star attraction. Around 7:30pm Jon puts out a little trail of bread and peanut butter squares. Not long after the pine marten appears, timidly peering around the garden steps, her nose twitching. Then with a few delicate bounds she’s up on to the stone pillar gathering the first treats from tonight’s offered feast.
Sitting in the conservatory/living room of the Glen Loy Lodge you get an amazing view, watching as she hurries down to feed her kits, waiting under the bushes. Within minutes she is back again, skewering more bread with her long front fangs.
Pine martens look adorably cuddly but they have sharp teeth for crunching through small birds, insects and frogs, and long claws to help them climb, so snuggling up with one is not recommended. As with all wild animals it should be remembered they are just that – wild, and therefore they should be treated with the respect they deserve. And that’s why being able to watch them from your armchair, without any risk of disturbing her and her kits, is an ideal way to see your first pine marten and appreciate their seldom seen beauty.
Once the pine marten has gathered her fill from tonight’s peanut butter banquet, the birds from the nearby seed feeders hop over to clear up the left overs – sparrows, bullfinches and robins battle it out, while a great spotted woodpecker peers down, uncomprehending at the commotion below.
If you love wildlife and nature, then Glen Loy Lodge is a good place to stop – and with guaranteed pine martens you’re bound to come away with a story to tell.
Glen Loy Lodge – http://www.glenloylodge.co.uk/
Glen Loy Lodge is a few miles outside Fort William and makes a convenient base for exploring the Locharber area.
About the Author:
Chantal Cooke is an award winning journalist and broadcaster with a passion for the planet. In 2002 she co-founded the award winning radio station PASSION for the PLANET and in 2009 Chantal was awarded London Leader in Sustainability status. Chantal also runs a successful communications agency – Panpathic Communications.