I was reading today that an adviser to SNH was proposing the the licensed control of Pine Martens be allowed in the few remaining Caper strongholds. The population estimates quoted were 3,500 Pine Martens and 2,000 Capercailie.
It also stated that the RSPB rigged up remote cameras on twenty Caper nests at Abernethy and saw that eggs were predated from nearly all of those nests by Pine Martens.
I am not suprised every nest was predated on by Pine Martin. In the area I stalk there should be Capercaille, but there are none, and I have the last remaining piece of Caledonian forest north of Inverness on my lease. There are plenty of Martins, dont often see them, but you often see their droppings.
Pine Martins are attractive animals and it is a real treat to see one in the wild, which I have done on a few occassions, and I know JAYB has one visiting his garden at present, but they are buggers for bird eggs and young chicks, and also make short work of your chickens as well if you keep them. But then the RSPB have always gone for feather not fur
if i can get my son to post a picture of a red deer calf left out on the hill over night with three other hinds you will see what pine martins can do . We know it was these little buggers as we went back in the morning with the quad and saw them run into the trees as we approached . the back end was eaten away on both back legs didnt make sense as calf had been grallocked so had the other three hinds could have come from the inside not eaten in from the backside in .
Malc's absolutely right I do have pine Martens that visit my Garden regularly, one of the young ones was at the bird table five to nine yesterday morning, and the adults were there last evening. I have seen them on the bird table, on top of the fence, watching pheasants at the feeder, some six feet away hanging off the same fence and completely ignoring them. Likewise the pheasants knew it was there and was not bothered at all.
I like to think I know enough about wild animals to know that they know what they are doing, they have their reasons for their comfort zones, just as a well fed lion will ignore a herd of potential food and the herd ignores them, these things happen Nature is by and large practical so no hunger, no kill no panic. Of course if I was an "expert" I would have to say, based on what I had seen, that Pine Martens present no threat to any other wild animals or birds, obvious isn't it.
Anyway as we all know, it has been widely publicised, water voles are in danger, mainly where mink are on the loose. Last evening I was talking to a man who had caught a one and a half pound wild brown trout and contained within it's stomach were two water voles. Now, putting my expert hat back on, this is very serious. This fish was taken from a Highland Loch, no mink present here, so I can only conclude that mink should be left in peace to multiply and do what they do, and the Government should focus all of it's energies towards constructing a Brown Trout containment programme
I think i hear that deer fencing was about the biggest threat to capercallie. The problem is in my view that we have incomplete eco systems. in a complete system prey numbers regulate predator species. This is why song birds and sparrow hawks are both still here. thats why blue tits might have 2 broods of 7 or 8 chicks. if sparrow hawks were decimating the song birds like we have been lead to believe in the media then they would have all died out very soon after they evolved. the real threat to song birds is habitat destruction and pesticide usage.
So looking at the pine martin / caper problems i wonder if this has got upset due to a cack of other prey species for the martin so it is stepping out of it's more normal niche. or is there a burgeoning population of another prey species which allows them to breed to higher densities than previously and they are taking advantage of the caper nest when available..... it can't be that this is a main food source for them or otherwise they would all starve to death at other times of the year. A little bit like the diversionary hen harrier feeding. this allowed the harriers to breed more successfully and so achieve higher densities so eat more grouse chicks.