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Martes Foina

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Offline CDDI

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« on: January 30, 2007, 08:30 AM »
This weekend I finally solved the mystery of the missing coconuts! For many years during the winter months I have festooned fruit trees infront of the house with coconut halves for the benefit of tits and great spotted woodpeckers which cling --  and robins and chaffinches which wait below for the spin-off. I saw the nuts in half, drill a hole in the side and hang them up using stout twin-flex electric light cable which resists all climate conditions for years and is flexible for tying. Over many seasons this has been an excellent way of providing nourishment that remains available despite snow, and I usually keep about four or six halves in action.  But there has been one continuing problem. Some coconuts just disappear, leaving the flex neatly severed and no sign anywhere of the missing half. It has been a frustrating and constant puzzle which has even occasionally fostered paranoid thoughts. Is someone out to get the giri bird-lover up the hill?! This line of thought has not been helped this winter by the inexplicable severing of the electric cable which serves the lights hanging from the wooden beams of the roof covering part of our terrace. This has happened twice, the second time early this month. It needs a ladder to reach the cable for splicing the ends together so was clearly a deliberate act. On Saturday I bought the biggest coconut I've ever seen, and hung the two halves from a couple of the customary branches. On Sunday morning I glanced out to see how feathered breakfast was doing -- and one of the halves was gone leaving neatly severed wire as so often before. I checked the other new nut and it was still there. But half the flesh had been broken from the shell and gone missing. A ground search produced no clues. Then by chance I happened to glance up at north gable of the house and there found the answer to years of musing. In the apex of the gable there are two small square holes a couple of feet apart which allows summer heat to escape from the roof cavity.  Jammed tight in the right-hand hole was the large missing half, the flesh still in situ.  The answer to the missing coconuts was solved. Because that end of the roof cavity is home to "our" beech martens. A large poplar has branches which reach that part of the gable and give them access to the perfect marten-sized air vents.
 Their antics have often disturbed guests sleeping in the bedroom at that end of the house and they wrought havoc on our son's feree-range guniea pigs. However, that still left unanswered the strange vanadalism of the light cables amongst the terrace roof beams.  My Beech Marten manual  finishes with this observation. "Beech martens frequently bite through electric connections in the engine cavity of cars."     So what's the difference between a roof and a car.  Case closed Milud.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2007, 17:33 PM by nick »

Offline nick

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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2007, 11:41 AM »
How often do you actually see them CCDI? What times do they come out? Must say I'm most envious.
Nick
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Offline CDDI

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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2007, 14:37 PM »
I see martens very seldom, although I'm constantly aware of their presence. Fresh excrement can be found on a daily basis, usually around the trerrace and often within inches of the door. It is especially frequent on the tiled roof of the terrace porch which is only two or three feet below our bedroom window and an excellent place to read their dietary intake. Most of the time droppings contain fur or feather and 
are reasonbly firm. In autumn I notice a marked presence of fruit - for instance in October and November fig seeds were regularly present and the excrement noticeably looser (anyone apart from me being dosed with syrup of figs??).  I have identified blackberry and plum in their diet.
Going back to actually seeing them. I am sure I could see them every night if I put out something choice on the porch roof and waited at the window.But I'm an early riser and I suppose the knowledge that they're there has perhaps removed the thrill of making that effort (I'm rather ashamed to say). I quite frequently see them dash in front of the car like a small fox caught in the headlight, and very fast. My first actual face to face was very sad. Nearly 20 years ago I found a large adult floating in a half-filled rain water tub beneath the guttering of the garage which is on the back side of the house. If the tub had been full it would have been out and gone in a flash. But it had been unable to get any grip on the smooth inner side. With it was a dead starling which it had probably caught roosting in the eaves seconds before falling into the water. I was surprised how big and heavy it was. The only time I have seen one in the garden was several years ago. It flashed out almost beneath my feet from the large box the guinea pigs used as refuge. I opened the lid and a female was lying face up and ripped open like a kipper.  Many others had previously perished, and the rest ultimately followed. But that's life in marten country!

Offline Clive

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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2007, 21:33 PM »
Hola,

I thought I would resurrect this thread because its just amazing and maybe some people missed it as it was posted in the earlier days...

Any more news about your martens CDDI ?

Unfortunately the other day I found a dead stone marten on the road not far from us and although I hear lots of stories about how they used to visit my house in the old days and lift all the roof tiles looking for birds nests I have yet to see alive one around here...

When we lived further south on a finca that had various fruit trees the martens used to come every night and steal the avocados...They were very vocal and chattered to each other whilst scoffing my profits...

Clive
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Offline nick

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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2007, 14:21 PM »
Hi all,

Derek asked me to post this photo of his beech marten lair. He's going to give an update on this. Bad news it seems. Watch this space.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2007, 14:35 PM by nick »
Nick
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Offline CDDI

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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2007, 20:35 PM »
Since April I've been off air and largely off the peninsular so I'm just getting back to life in the sierra. I know Wildside was wondering how the beech martens in my roof were getting on, and alas they're victims of a forced eviction. Sometime during my absence,  I think probably  early May, winds took down the branch of a large poplar tree which had grown against the end wall of our house and then been forced to turn passing beneath the air vents in the gable. The martens used this branch as their only access. As I was absent when this happened I cannot say if they were at home when the branch fell. I like to think they weren't because it's pretty high-up. Anyway, the sad news from my perspective is that at the moment I have not found any of the regular calling cards which told me much of their habits and diet. They'll be close-by no doubt and I'm thinking of fixing an artificial "branch" from the tree to their former  entrance to see if I can lure them back. To give marten fanciers some idea of what I'm talking about I sent Nick a picture which shows both the breathing vents and partial presence of the poplar.  The vent on the right is where the half coconut was jammed.  That puzzle caused me more than a few sleepless nights. Meanwhile I've been busy trying to make the place roe deer proof after last year's monumental destruction of my (mainly cox) apple harvest.  And last night great delight soon after 10.0 a nightjar flew through the garden dusk. Feel I'm back where I belong!  best wishes to everyone, Derek

Offline Sue

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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2007, 22:17 PM »
Hi Derek, welcome home

sorry to hear that your martins are having access issues, but do be careful if constructing a new "branch".
Perhaps you could woo them back with another coconut.
That is good news to see a nightjar (unless you are a moth of course)

Regards, Sue
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Offline nick

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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2007, 22:35 PM »
I love the expression "off the peninsular"
Nick
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2007, 23:09 PM »
Hola,

Thanks for the update Derek, Shame you weren't about when the branch fell. I reckon an artificial branch will work a treat.

Off the peninsular visiting the watery islet to the north?

Clive
Explore the nature of Iberia at www.wildsideholidays.com

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