Red Squirrels and Pine Martens in Fermanagh

Amid all the fevered discussion of recent days I thought something much lighter and fun was called for.

From the BBC:

Queens academic Dr. David Tosh has been trying to gain further information about the distribution of red and grey squirrels in Fermanagh with help from the Fermanagh Red Squirrel Group and the National Trust in putting up camera traps to photograph red squirrels. This has been somewhat successful but has actually taken many more photographs of the rarer and more elusive Pine Marten.

From the BBC

“But we found more pine martens than we did red squirrels, which was a very pleasant surprise because they are also a protected and endangered species as well.
“We found pine martens in one in every three forests we surveyed while we only found red squirrels in every one in five.
“That doesn’t mean that red squirrels are in decline, it’s just that we found more pine martens than we did red squirrels, which is no bad thing in itself.
“They are very photogenic little creatures, they are not shy. They enjoy getting their photo taken.”

There is apparently a correlation between larger number of Pine Martens and more red squirrels. It has been suggested that Pine Martens are more easily able to catch the red squirrels’ main competitors, the grey squirrels, hence, giving the reds an advantage in areas where there are pine martens.

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  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    The DUP are grey squirrels, the TUV, the pine Martins and the UUP the red squirrels????
    No thats not right. The grey squirrels are Sinn Fein, the pine martins are the PSNI and the red squirrels are dissident republicans????
    Martin McGuinness is a pine martin or a squirrel, hue unknown????

    I give up. I stared for ages with no pattern appearing ;0)

  • Son of Strongbow

    About two months ago I saw a pine marten (cat crain or ‘tree cat’ I believe in Irish) chase a bird, wren I think, along a hedgerow in County Antrim.

    The marten must have had a whack at the bird already because it was fluttering about no more than a few centimetres above the ground rather than flying away, a fascinating hunt to watch.

    Unfortunately for the pine marten’s dinner prospects it became aware of my presence and gave me what could have been an annoyed stare and then skipped off into the hedge leaving the bird behind.

  • cynic2

    As the Pine Martins steal the food put out for the Squirrels the Pine Martens must be themuns and the squirrels oursuns

  • Drumlins Rock

    Have had a Pine Marten visit a few times, sat on the fence and stared in at me for 5 minutes once, far from shy, have a few pics,

    I think they are prods as they all wear an orange collarette 🙂

  • SK

    “Like many mustelids, pine martens normally exclude members of the same sex from their home ranges”

    I think you’re right Drumlin

  • I believe that there has been a years long attempt, across the British Isles, I believe, to wipe out the grey squirrels. Anyone know how successfully that is proceeding?

  • Charles_Gould

    Mr Joe

    I fear its an impossible task – the grey are so numerous in some areas.

    It may be more realistic to fight their dominance in a few areas where there are still red squirrels.

    There are supposed to be red squirrels in the Glens, not that I have spotted any. The ones in the bigger towns are grey.

  • Mc Slaggart


    just checked a local story (Tyrone) that the pine martin eats the grey squirrels. The red squirrels long ago worked out that staying out of its reach was a good idea.

    I have killed a number of grey squirrels and they are a hard one to put down. It is hard to do but its the law.

  • carl marks

    As a member of the Glenariff Red Squirrel group (GRS) could I ask anybody with a interest in these charming creatures help out the group closest to then, there are groups in tollymore, Derry, Antrim and down turgons way.
    If you own land with reds then feeders which cannot be used by greys can be placed on trees, a good start in helping the reds is to kill any grey you see (sounds grim but maintaining buffer zones around areas which have reds is a priority) , if none of these appeal to you then please report any sightings of reds to your local group, time, date, place (if you have the map-reading skills a grid ref (8 figures will do) a GPS app can be downloaded to your mobile if you aren’t map and compass savvy .
    Anybody who walks or works alone in isolated areas should check out the link below, it might save your life.

  • Charles_Gould

    Carl marks

    I saw some odd looking feeders in porthole one forest. Would those be red squirrel feeders?

    I assume there is no benefit to killing greys in the large towns of co Antrim, given their prevalence now?

  • carl marks

    Yep Charles they were put their for Reds (all my own work along with the bird and bat boxes) but too late, the greys had already established themselves and they are hard to shift.
    If you’re interested and free on Monday there is a bluebell festival in Portglenone forest on Monday starting at 11.00.
    I will be there all day selling plants for a charity I am involved in, it is a great day out for the kids and adults enjoy the guided walks.

  • Charles_Gould


    Well translated ! I hadn’t spotted that “Portglenone forest” had been changed by my spell check to “porthole one forest”.

    Was there a few weeks ago just before the bluebells. I like it down by the river.

  • carl marks

    Strangely enough before they patched up the driveway into the forest we called it Pothole forest, Come back quick before the bluebells fade, this year is the best show that we have had in three years.

  • Thanks Charles and McS. I remember as a youngster, may 9 or 10, about a dozen kids from Churchview were taken on an expedition one Sunday afternoon “up the hill” and over to a wood near Artigarvan just to see red squirrels. We did see 3 or 4 and it was very exciting for us.

  • carl marks

    MJ if you ever get back across the pond give me a shout and with a bit of luck we could see some reds in the Glens.

  • Thanks, Carl. I might take you up on that this year or next.

  • Charles_Gould


    where in the glens does one find the red squirrels? I go quite often to places like Glenariff, Waterfoot, Glenarm, Cushendall, Breen Forest, Carnlough etc.

  • We have lots of greys, actually mostly black, visit our backyard regularly to pinch from the bird feeders. I “fought” them for about 5 years and always had some success with my stratagems but usually only for a few weeks. Clever little “baskets”.

  • carl marks

    Try this Facebook page for recent sightings. Reds can be seen (if you’re lucky) in any of the woods from Glenarm to Ballycastle.
    The group has regular guided walks and can always use someone to help fill the feeders, plus I am always up for a walk in the glens.

    Glens Red Squirrel Group

  • carl marks

    the post above was for you,

  • Charles_Gould

    Thanks carl. I’ve not seen any in Glenariff forest – in fact the place seems fairly “dead” in terms of wildlife.

  • David Crookes

    Many thanks for a jolly interesting post, Turgon. Has anyone read Elleston Trevor’s ‘Heather Hill’, in which a pine marten becomes one of the main characters? (ET also wrote the scripts for a TV series called Quiller which the venerable will remember.)

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Has there been an explosion in the pine marten population in recent years? Rarely came across them years ago but now they seem to be common enough. gorgeous creatures but certainly not popular with people who keep hens around our way.