Nature Nuts Bob meets the elusive pine marten
New exhibition to showcase work created as part of Common Ground project
A new exhibition is to take place in Alyth and Blairgowrie showcasing the Common Ground project, part of the wider Cateran’s Common Wealth initiative.
Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust created new aerial photographs of the Cateran Trail, and textile artist Deirdre Nelson ran an artist residency in the area over the spring and summer with local primary schools and community groups as part of the project.
This resulted in an array of textiles inspired by the photographs.
New research in place names on the trail was also commissioned for the project.
The exhibition, which opens at The Barony in Alyth on Tuesday, October 3, will feature many examples of the work created as part of the project.
And visitors to the exhibition will also receive an information booklet about the initiative.
Following its stint at The Barony, the exhibition will also be on display at the Wellmeadow Cafe in Blairgowrie for a week from Monday, October 9.
The Barony is open 10am to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm Sunday. The Wellmeadow Cafe is open 9.30am to 3pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Local nature nut and wildlife enthusiast Bob Smith has been out and about in the local area and is keen to share with Blairie readers some of his experiences.
In the latest in an occasional series exploring local wildlife, this week Bob looks at the European Pine Marten.
He says: “These animals are an absolute joy to watch, beautiful creatures with an innocent baby-face that belies their predatory prowess.”
A member of the mustelid family, the same family as otters, stoats, weasels and badgers, the colours can vary from light to very dark brown and they all have a creamy bib which usually has freckles that are individual to each animal, making identification a lot easier when watching them.
The European Pine Marten is also called the sweet marten, presumably because of its sweet tooth. The animal’s diet consists of a wide variety of things - small birds and mammals, frogs and toads, eggs, carrion and even berries.
The marten mates in September and their young, kits, are born around March with litters ranging in size from around one to five babies. The kits generally appear around the middle of June and by the time they are around six months old, they are totally independent.
Pine martens are the only member of the mustelids that have semi-retractable claws.
Bob says: “As a fair bit of their prey is in the trees, the ability to climb trees rapidly using their claws is a huge advantage.
“As fleet as they are on the ground, they are pretty nifty in the canopies as well. I have witnessed them more than once chasing squirrels along some branches - thankfully the squirrels evaded the marten on all those occasions.
“I watch these animals from my hide and they are generally night or late evening visitors, however there have been more than a few visits from them on balmy summer afternoons. This was more than a pleasant surprise for me but I don’t think the red squirrels appreciated the early appearance as much as I did.
“On one occasion that I was at the hide, I was watching a pair of red-legged partridge mopping up some of the bird seed from the ground. Suddenly, the cock bird started an alarm call and a pine marten appeared.
“Far from being frightened, both birds flew at the animal and unbelievably had the marten hiding under a few logs until they decided they had pushed their luck far enough.
“It was one sighting that I wasn’t expecting but at the same time was absolutely wonderful to witness.
“Having at least five martens visiting the hide every evening - although not always at the same time - is a lovely experience.
“To witness these usually elusive creatures only feet away from me is always a thrill and to be honest a privilege.”
To witness these usually elusive creatures only feet away from me is always a thrill
Predatory prowess pThe pine marten The
Skill Stitching a piece of bunting printed with one of the aerial photographs of the Cateran Trail