During my internship at Ynys Hir, I was given the opportunity to set up and run my own project, and so, in collaboration with the Vincent Wildlife Trust, I set up a number of camera traps around the reserve. The goal of the project is to see whether pine martens have started using the reserve following the VWTs Pine Marten Recovery Project.

Between 2015 and 2017, a total of 51 pine martens were captured in Scotland, from areas where there is a healthy pine marten population, under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage. These animals were translocated and released in forestry in mid-Wales. The translocated pine martens are closely monitored, have become established, and breeding has occurred each year since the translocation began.

Now the project is focused on recording the expansion of the pine marten population and is using a combination of camera traps, scat surveys and den box monitoring. AN important part of this is the camera trap loan scheme, in which the VWT provide volunteers with camera traps, and this is what I took part in.

For the last five months, I have been collecting the SD cards from my cameras on a weekly basis and watching the captured videos for any traces of pine martens. Sadly I never managed to get any footage of these elusive mammals, and while this could mean they are not present, there could be a number of other reasons. The area could be used only as a corridor to other sites and not actually as part of a territory. It could be that, as pine martens are less active over winter, they weren’t moving around as much and so didn’t come into contact with the cameras. Or it could just have been bad luck, and that any pine martens on site have been missed. As pine martens are getting more active, now is the perfect time to start keeping an eye out, and if you want to get involved, this site has all the information you need: https://pine-marten-recovery-project.org.uk.

While it was disappointing not to find footage of pine martens, that doesn’t mean that my project was a waste of time. There were plenty of other interesting sightings that made it worthwhile and enjoyable. 

Ben Harrington