A Frequent Visitor
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
Little did we realise when we first arrived on the Black Isle to build our new home, that we would be sharing our plot with a sitting tenant! We started by clearing out an old shed to provide some storage for tools and found the loft had been used as a home for something with rather unsanitary habits. It wasn't long before we found out who had been spending time up there.
Jim was working in the shed and seeing a movement in the corner of his eye, thought that our cat, Willow, had followed him in to investigate. However looking out of the window, Willow was in the garden, and turning around what should he see but a long bushy tail and a furry back disappearing through a hole in the floor! That was one of our first sightings of the creature we now affectionately call Mr P - A young pine marten.
We know he is a male and therefore tends to be solitary in his habits, however we have seen a female on a couple of occasions in very cold snowy weather. They live about 10 years so Mr P is heading towards late middle age. He has a single brown splodge on his lovely apricot coloured chest. These markings are individual to each animal and can be used to identify them. He seems to almost double in size as he develops his thick winter coat and his tail becomes a fluffy blanket which he wraps around himself to keep warm.
Over the past 7 years he has continued to be a regular visitor to the garden, usually in the evening, happy to find the gift of a handful of peanuts or an egg to supplement his supper or pinch a fat ball from the bird feeder, especially during the colder months. We have seen him with injuries to his paw, a missing claw, a nasty eye infection and what seemed to be an infestation of some kind on his head and each time think it might be the last time we see him, but he seems to heal well and recover. Perhaps the extra protein helps. This winter in particular he has been very bold as he arrives on the deck, places his forepaws on the glass of the conservatory door and tips his head on one side listening for us to arrive with the keys and his supper. If there is an egg he grabs it and runs off to a small hole under the deck to munch in private and then comes back for the nuts. He's a bit of a kleptomaniac too as we have lost 3 peanut feeders and 2 full coconut shells of bird cake this year alone
We have been very conscious that we didn't want him to become reliant on us for food and there are some weeks when he seems to be away in another part of his territory finding sustenance. We love the fact that he still comes to see us and that he trusts us enough to know we pose no threat, but he is very much a wild animal, relatively rare in the UK and usually very elusive. He is a beautiful creature which I never dreamed I would ever see, let alone have one which almost takes an egg from my fingers.