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Pine marten makes film debut in Aberdeen woods

30/03/16

 

A pine marten – which is a rare and endangered species - has been caught on camera by Aberdeen City Council's Countryside Rangers.

In a first for the Rangers and their night-viewing camera, the mammal was filmed running up a tree in Hazlehead Woods, and running back down again.

Native to Scotland, pine martens are found mostly across the Highlands and Grampians, and although the Countryside Rangers had found other evidence of their existence in the woods through droppings, this is the first time they had been filmed.

The recording – which can be viewed on the Aberdeen City Council Countryside Rangers Facebook page - on Thursday 24 March at about 4am was a further surprise to the Rangers as they had set up the camera hoping to get footage of red squirrels or deer – Hazlehead Park which encompasses the woods is a Red Squirrel Conservation area.

Aberdeen City Council Communities, Housing and Infrastructure vice convener Councillor Jean Morrison said: "This is such a fantastic piece of footage and well done to the Countryside Rangers for capturing it.

"We hope the sighting will encourage people to come and have a look at the wildlife that can be found right on our city's doorstep, from the dolphins at Torry Battery to the pine martens and red squirrels at Hazlehead Park."

Aberdeen City Council Countryside Rangers officer Ian Talboys said: It's fantastic to have solid proof that there is a pine marten in Hazlehead Woods as it is an endangered species that is native to Scotland.

"In addition, the work that the Ranger Service has carried out along with the Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels project has resulted in the red squirrel population increasing at Hazlehead.

"It shows that with countryside management by Aberdeen City Council and help from volunteers, our environment is getting closer to returning to its original state."

The Countryside Rangers run events where volunteers can help them preserve the native fauna and flora to encourage more native species to live or grow in the city's green areas. These events include removing spruce pine saplings as they overshadow the native Scots pine trees which are a better natural habitat for red squirrels and pine martens.

Pine martens, with their dark brown fur, yellow/white throat patch, and long fluffy tail are about the size of a small cat. They are generally predators, feeding on small rodents, birds, beetles, carrion, eggs, fungi, and berries in the autumn.

According to The Mammal Society, pine martens' dens are commonly found in hollow trees or the fallen root masses of Scots pines, an association that probably earned them their name.

Until the 19th Century, pine martens were found throughout much of mainland Britain, the Isle of Wight and some of the Scottish islands. Habitat fragmentation, persecution by gamekeepers and martens being killed for their fur, drastically reduced this distribution.

By 1926, the main pine marten population in Britain was restricted to a small area of north-west Scotland, with small numbers in north Wales and the Lake District. They have now increased their range in Scotland, and now occur throughout the Highlands and north of the Central Belt but they remain one of the rarest native mammals in Great Britain, with a total population of about 3,000 to 4,000.

Hazlehead Park has also benefited from conservation work carried out by Friends of Hazlehead group, an organisation which has been working closely with the Parks and Countryside Team within Aberdeen City Council to invest in the regeneration of the park.

The charity aims to promote and encourage individuals, families, clubs, societies and charities within the community to actively use the open space of Hazlehead for health and lifestyle and invests extensively in these infrastructure improvement projects and further attractions.