We noticed that our bird table was being 'cleared' overnight. On further investigation we found that a pine marten was visiting the table most nights. We cannot guarantee that he will visit during your stay (nor guarantee that you will still be up!) but there is a chance that you may have an opportunity to view this rarely seen creature during your stay.
Since our first sightings, he has appeared at various times during the day - he may make a visit at 7am or 3pm - but mostly his visits are made under the cover of darkness.
We have experimented with various foods and so far have found that he likes:honey, peanut butter, pine nuts, grapes, raisins, flapjacks and most muffins
He does not like: walnuts, soft fruits e.g. strawberries or raspberries (unless he can pick them fresh himself from the strawberry plants in the garden!). He will eat cherries if no grapes are available! He will not eat bread unless it has honey on it!
Some guests have also entered into the spirit and left items for him : we still do not know if he licked the marmite off the twiglets, but he does not eat the whole twiglet!
Here is a recent photo of one of his daytime visits when he decided a 'carry out' of grapes was preferable!
We had seen our pine marten running after another a few weeks ago and have heard them squabbling some evenings, but we had not seen both together on the feeding table until now. Here is our latest photo showing both pine martens together. As pine martens are normally solitary creatures they would not normally be tolerant of each other so we are guessing that this must be a brother and sister. (Two for the price of one!)
We were worried that as the evenings closed in we may not see so much of our pine marten - but we are pleased to say that we still enjoy regular visits. He looks a bit bedraggled some nights if he ventures out in wet weather, but he has a magnificently thick coat and bushy tail to see him through the cold winter nights. We thought that the two had separated, but some guests saw both together feeding at the table just this week.
Throughout the winter we have noticed that the pine marten's coat is considerably lighter, but it has been difficult to get a good photograph to share with you as he has been visiting mostly in the dark. However - now that the daylight hours are lengthening, he is visiting during daylight a bit more and we were able to take this photo to demonstrate how different the winter coat is.
We are thrilled that the pine marten has (tonight) brought her 3 cubs into the garden on their first outing. We have seen her feeding frantically over the last few weeks at all times of the day (from 6am to late at night). We guess that with hungry mouths to feed back at base she has had to search out food at every opportunity. Over the last few evenings we have heard the cubs calling to her from the bushes while she has been gathering food from the bird table. They have sounded very demanding! Tonight we saw them hiding under one of the cars while she gathered food and gradually they became braver and started to come out to feed themselves. They were moving very quickly and are clearly nervous: they are staying very close together, but we managed to get one or two photos to share with you...
The BBC Springwatch team visited the area in May 2011 primarily to film the beavers in Knapdale, but they also took a trip to Dunchraigaig House to film the Pine Marten. Despite a wild storm raging, they still managed to get some good footage of her and Charlie Hamilton James was very excited to see her in the garden.