Marten March

Pine Marten Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

Welcome to the month of martens. The month where you will discover how much there is to know about pine martens…and in fact…all of our native mustelids. These lengthy, fluffy critters have so much more to them than being extras in The Wind in the Willows.

They fill the gap between apex predators and herbivores, they are the entrepreneurs, the opportunists, they are versatile…yet they are also often forgotten. These long and tubular mammals just get on with things in the background and their flexibility has meant mustelids are found on almost every continent on this planet.

Mustelids around the world

Mustelids around the world

As you may well know, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, along with its project partners, are undertaking a pine marten reintroduction in the county. To find out more about this, visit our project web page here.  The work to monitor pine martens goes on all year round, but March, when we are fed up with winter rain and grey skies, is one of our busiest months.

Cat with camera trap

Cat with camera trap

Marten March came into being not because of the alliteration of the month (it might then have been Marten May…a far nicer time of year to be outside) but a result of the monitoring work that we do in March. This is the month where we do scat surveys. These are, in their simplest form, walking through woodland and the surrounding areas looking for pine marten poo. This is not a bizarre fetish, but one of the most reliable ways to survey for the ever-elusive pine marten (and many other shy carnivores). This walk, or march if you will, through pine marten habitat allows us to map the range of the new pine marten population in Gloucestershire and hopefully year on year we will see this expand throughout this and neighboring counties. These surveys will happen annually, and we want you to get involved, get outside…and maybe learn a few things about mustelids on the way.

Scat surveys are a vital part of our monitoring work

Scat surveys are a vital part of our monitoring work

So, come with us on our meander through the world of mustelids. There will be Marvellous Mustelid videos about our native mustelids…do you know your stoats from your weasels and your spraint from your scat? To be honest, I am most excited about My Mustelid Musings, where Project Officer Josie & I have a chance to chat to people who have dedicated their career or life’s work to these fantastic animals. Each week we will also be hearing from our project partners about how pine martens play a role in their organisation’s vision. But don’t think you can just sit there and watch, you can get involved too. Send us questions, test your identification skills… and we have a fun competition to get you outside and creative as well!

I don’t know about you but I’m stoatally ready for March.

Bring on the Mustelids.