By Ed Snell, Yorkshire Pine Marten Project Officer
4 months in to our new Heritage Lottery funded pine marten project, the Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme, and our excellent volunteer team have been making the most of the good weather!
Our camera trap surveys are now in full swing which means we have between 45 – 55 camera traps in forests on the North York Moors at any given time. We’re now covering more ground than ever before and increasing our likelihood of picking up pine martens on camera – for perspective, our previous project used just 6 cameras when we first caught a marten on camera in Yorkshire in 2017.
Although we haven’t caught a marten on camera in the region since last year, with so many cameras on the ground we’re capturing thousands of unique glimpses into the range of wildlife in the area. We’ve put together a short video below showcasing some of our favourite clips from the last few months…
One of our objectives through the project is to explore the use of different types of bait to attract martens to our camera stations. The bait that we’re currently using has been frequently drawing another member of the mustelidae family to our cameras – stoats. One of our cameras picked up close to 20 videos of stoats back in July – you can see some of the best clips below.
It’s clear from this video why stoats often get mistaken for martens when you see how they explore an area and climb, although there’s a few key differences to look out for:
• Size – Pine martens are at least 3-4 times the size of stoats; you’ll see the squirrel clip in there for size comparison!
• Fur markings – A light fur patch runs all the way underneath a stoat, whereas for pine martens the creamy / yellow ‘bib’ is only under the neck, stopping at the front legs.
• Black tail tip – When I’ve seen stoats while out in the forest this has always been the most noticeable giveaway; despite their fast movement, the black tail tip is often clearly visible. Comparatively, pine martens have a big, bushy tail with no black tip.
In other encouraging news for martens in the region, a marten has been recorded in Northumberland in addition to the one earlier this year – this time in Kielder forest.
We’re also pleased to announce that we will soon be submitting camera trap images to MammalWeb, a website that enables anyone to review camera trap photos and identify the animals they see. It’s important to us that our work through the Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme is accessible to as many people as possible, by using the MammalWeb website as a ‘Spotter’, you can play an important role in identifying the wide range of species we capture on camera traps.
The MammalWeb team work with an exciting range of projects already so we highly recommend having a go at being a Spotter!