Fieldwork has commenced for the second year of a project using 30 remote trail cameras to investigate a newly established Pine Marten population in the New Forest.
Building on the promising results obtained in 2021, where nearly 80 Pine Marten records were obtained from four areas on the Crown lands, the cameras are being deployed in a further four areas this spring and summer. The fieldwork on the Crown lands is primarily funded by Forestry England and is co-ordinated by Marcus Ward of Wild New Forest, who is dedicating 80 days (600 hours) per year to the project.
The overall aim is to produce an initial map of Pine Marten distribution across the New Forest and identify their preferred habitats, with a view to understanding whether the population is self-sustaining and potentially able to link up with populations being established elsewhere in southern England. Further background to the first year of the project can be viewed on the Wild New Forest blog here and here.
The project team have just released a video, produced by Michelle Poczapsky, showing highlights from the 2021 field season (click here). The video includes fantastic footage of Pine Martens moving around the forest floor at night and in the early morning, including a clip showing an adult Pine Marten apparently moving young kits between den sites, and others showing juvenile Pine Martens, providing tantalising evidence for successful breeding.
The video also features a variety of other notable wildlife recorded on camera in 2021, including Goshawks chasing Grey Squirrels on the ground, a Buzzard eating a Bank Vole, and intimate and often entertaining views of mammals including Badgers, Foxes, and several species of deer.
The New Forest Pine Marten Project is a collaboration between Wild New Forest, Forestry England, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and New Forest Badger Group. This year, additional financial support for the survey work on the Crown lands has been provided by the New Forest Trust as part of their ‘Love the Forest’ programme, which will allow the team to test the feasibility of conducting DNA analysis of Pine Marten scats to help determine the number of individuals present in some areas.
The project team are intending to release an update on 2022 results later this year.