THE unprecedented sighting of a pine marten near Aberdeen has sparked a pilot camera programme led by a local wildlife action group.
The elusive animals have recently begun to re-colonise woodlands in the North east of Scotland after suffering centuries of persecution.
But members of a local woodland group were amazed when a pine marten was captured on camera at a site close to Europe’s oil capital.
And the North East’s Local Biodiversity Action Partnership (LBAP) is now launching a scheme to try and film more pine martens on camera in a project being spearheaded by the partnership’s Woodland Group,
Using cameras with infra-red capabilities which trigger automatically when they detect motion, even at night, they hope to capture some of the more secretive species that are making their home amongst the Grampian forests.
The three year project was sparked following the chance discovery by Nick Littlewood, chair of the Woodland Group, that a pine marten had been paying a visit to a site close to Aberdeen where he had set up a camera.
Mr Littlewood said: “I was absolutely delighted when I saw the pictures of the pine marten. This shy species has suffered persecution in past centuries, but it has recently started naturally re-colonising woods throughout the North east. To get evidence of a marten so close to Aberdeen is great news and for this to be happening in Year of Natural Scotland is the icing on the cake.”
Rose Toney, the co-ordinator for the partnership, said: “There are large areas of woodland within North east Scotland with few mammal records - even of common species. It’s hard to record wildlife in woodlands because of the density of cover and secretive nature of some of the species. These cameras are especially suited to helping to find these animals.
“This project is an ideal opportunity to help gather some baseline data on mammal species, without causing disturbance to the wildlife.”
The action partnership is partly supported by Scottish Natural Heritage. And Ewen Cameron, SNH Tayside and Grampian operations manager, said: “A few reports of pine marten have been made in the North East during recent years. The Woodland Group is using modern camera technology to solve an age old problem: how to find out about shy animals that are mostly nocturnal.”