Pine Martens are solitary creatures and will spend most of their awake time in independent activity. During our evening watches guests enjoy the bountiful showings of Badger and Mouse activity whilst eagerly awaiting an appearance of Pine Marten. On the nights when the Pine Marten arrives the guests are thrilled. So you can imagine the excitement that erupted amongst the group in the hide when we had the unexpected appearance of not one but two Pine Martens at once!
At first, it was our youngest female who arrived in. Tentative and nervous she settled down to feed on our Pine Marten table giving guests excellent views of her bushy winter tail. Suddenly, and much to our surprise, the larger male popped up from the two trees ahead and glanced around in a relaxed manner. We watched as he confidently approached the feeding platform in bounds and it became clear to us that he had not yet noticed the female already there. When she raised her head at the sound of his approach he was given an incredible fright- and to the guest's delight- leapt five feet into the air before skilfully latching on to some slim branches in order to catch his fall. Both Pine Martens stood still and scrutinized one another. The female broke the moment first by turning back to the peanuts she was working her way through and the Male continued to observe her perching bolt upright on the swaying branches. After some time he began to make his way towards her and joined her on the platform settling down to feed. They both appeared to be comfortable around one another and happily fed side by side. However, despite this show of companionship, they reverted back to their solitary habits and each Pine Marten left in a different direction and at a different time without a glance back.
Another behaviour that guests have been enjoying at the Evening Mammal Hide is the boisterous activity of our youngest clan member. This young bold cub has been very interactive with the other members of his family. Often he will scent mark older members by rubbing his back end against them. This behaviour is typically reserved for the more dominant Boars whose odour prevails and ties the group together. Yet this young and subordinate Badger is incredibly engaged in this activity. Maybe his excessive need to scent mark other members of the clan is an act of introducing his smell to the group and solidifying his belonging in the clan? Certainly, his youth and small stature protect him as his outlandish behaviour towards the bigger and older Badgers is not yet perceived as a challenge to the hierarchy. Rather, he is learning how to behave socially within the group and is practising these important behaviours while we watch. Even still, he does get told off when he steps out of line. But in his eagerness, he always bounces back after a telling off with equal enthusiasm in order to continue the hunt for peanuts.
Peanut butter is one of the food types we place out for the Badgers. It is a fatty food source and as a supplement helps the clan to maintain weight especially through the cold and harsh winter months. It is definitely a favourite for the group. The Badgers have developed very sophisticated means of extracting the peanut butter we place out to eat. The techniques can vary. The lazy Badger takes his nose to the pole, squishes his snout against the wood and begins to lick. Often collapsing onto his rear to conserve energy. The tactile Badger uses one of his most prized tools- his long front claws- to scrape the peanut butter out of the cracks and eat it directly from their paw. Each technique gets the job done but guests take delight in noticing the different ways in which each Badger tackles the peanut butter puzzle and the pleasure they take in enjoying this tasty treat.
If you are interested in booking an evening in our Mammal hide please visit the website for more information.