Aigas Field Centre
Aigas Field Centre

The First Frost

25 September, 2017. Posted by Aigas Field Centre

The autumnal equinox and our first grass frost this morning.  I was out and about early checking out the very visible animal trails through the frosty grass.  A small group of red deer hinds came through in the night, perhaps 8-10, right through the gardens and past the slumbering guests’ lodges.  Our habitual badgers, normally undetected, left distinct trails and hundreds of snuffle holes where they had been gorging on earthworms and crane fly larvae, building the brown fat they need before the winter closes in.  And, surprise, surprise, a pine marten came through ever hopeful that we had left the hen house hatch open.  He cheekily left a neat pile of semi-digested rowan berries on the top of the gate.  I guess it’s his regular run, probably every night.  By John Lister-Kaye

The rowan berry scat, neatly left on a gate post

2 thoughts on “The First Frost

  1. dear John, we have a home Glenmuick at Ballater and my son is very concerned that as a result of the encouragement more Pine Martins they are starting to devastate the red squirrel community as with their agility they are able to catch them. our population has halved we think in the last year. what is your experience of this?

    best wishes. Katie Lukas

    1. Dear Katie,
      Pine martens and red squirrels have been living together side by side for many millions of years. You are right that martens do take squirrels from time to time, particularly young, inexperienced squirrels, but equally I have seen many marten squirrel chases end in failure because the squirrels can get to branches too thin for martens. I suspect your population of squirrels is doing what most populations do from time to time, which is to peak and then crash, sometimes taking several years to build up again. By far the biggest threat to our red squirrels is the greys, who not only compete for food, but also introduce squirrel pox to which the reds have no resistance. I hope this is helpful. Yours sincerely, John

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