Martens & Beetles

Posted on May 12, 2014

Not much to report after week 2 – I’ve been housebound for the last couple of days waiting for rain to clear and mapping data to arrive.


Pine Marten (photo from WikimediaCommons)

Pine Marten (photo from WikimediaCommons)

Last week I went out with Edmunds & his ladder and we set up 12 camera traps, each facing a triad of baited trees: 1 treated with turpentine, 1 with a strip of plastic and 1 untreated. We’re trying to test whether these different treatments prevent Pine Martens climbing the trunk, and therefore whether it’s worth spending time and money protecting nestboxes this way. What we may find is that Martens usually access the bait from above (by climbing a neighbouring tree and traversing the canopy). This will still be good information, as it will tell us that the best way of protecting nestboxes is to put them on isolated trees (I imagine protecting a nestbox from above will be difficult, as Martens could easily drop from the canopy onto the roof of the box without touching the trunk). The next question is ‘how isolated’ – how far can a Marten jump? 

Initial experimental setup - thoughts welcome

Initial experimental setup – thoughts welcome

Mmmm. Chicken & jam

Mmmm. Chicken spine & jam


There are lots of Rollers about now. Most of the birds I’ve seen have been pairs, and almost always hanging out at previously occupied nestboxes. I guess these are pairs settling down on their territories, something which I never really noticed happening in France last year, where the Rollers just seemed to be everywhere, and the first indication of a territory being occupied was the presence of eggs in a box. I’ve been told that the territories in Latvia are very constant – some boxes have been occupied since the start (though not by the same individuals), and others have never been occupied. It will be interesting to see what’s so special about these boxes, in terms of the surrounding landuse and resource availability. 


Last week I was feeling sorry for the Rollers, who arrived during a insect-free cold snap. It has since warmed up, however, and despite the rain there are lots of beetles around. I’ve seen green and wood tiger beetles, cockchafers, some big ground beetles and some lovely purple iridescent scarab beetles. So lots of Roller prey. I started invert surveys the other day, and took a couple for my collection too.

Wood tiger beetle

Wood tiger beetle


Finally, a few species to add to the growing list of interesting wildlife (some recent arrivals, and some that I only just remembered): Orange-tip, Brown Hare, Barn SwallowWillow warbler, ChiffchaffSpotted Flycatcher.