Ranger Diaries: Spring Wildlife Watch

Reported by Bowhill Ranger, Andy.

Andy and Pine Marten Group

Wildlife Watch

As winter turns to spring, it’s a great time of year to check for wildlife, with the wet muddy ground making it easier to find paw prints and the leafless trees making it easier to spot nests and squirrel dreys. Following on from the footage of Pine marten (Martes martes) caught by Andy, the newly formed Scottish Borders Pine Marten Group set out to conduct its first ever survey on the Bowhill Estate.

Scat surveys are not only a way to determine presence of Pine marten, but can be a good indicator of their territory. Pine marten will mark their territories by scatting (having a poo) and typically will do this along forest tracks and trails, often doing so on top of cut tree stumps to increase their prominence. Pine marten scat is typically dark, coiled (due to trademark hip wiggling when scatting) and has a not unpleasant musky/sweet smell. This is very different for the larger fox scat which has a strong and very unpleasant odour!

The survey was very successful, with a print and several scats found along one of the Pernassie Hill tracks indicating a potential territory boundary. Another survey will be conducted through the summer, when the males are more active in their search for a mate and hopefully we can identify further territories on the estate.

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