The Christmas Challenge is the UK's largest online match funding campaign. The campaign is run by the Big Give online donation platform. For seven days, it offers project supporters the opportunity to have their donation doubled.
The Christmas Challenge 2019 will take place from 12pm (midday) Tues 3rd December – 12pm Tues 10th December.
During this week in December we are hoping to raise £5,100 in public donations, which will then be doubled to make a project total of £10,200.
To find out more about the Christmas Challenge please click here.
The Shropshire pine marten project
Pine martens are the rarest mammal in England however Shropshire is proving to be a stronghold for a small breeding population. The population was discovered unexpectedly after a photograph of a wild pine marten was taken by local wildlife recorder Dave Pearce in the Clun Valley. Since the photo was taken, our resident pine marten enthusiast Stuart Edmunds has captured astounding footage of a number of pine martens in the same area, as the following video shows:
These elusive animals are very difficult to monitor as individuals range over a huge area: often over 16km2 for a male. Without new technology we would never have known that they were here at all. Our wildlife cameras have now recorded 13 individuals in South Shropshire. Our project aims to give them the best chance of survival, aiming to:
- Work alongside landowners and gamekeepers to protect the woodlands upon which the pine martens depend.
- Increase connectivity between sites to allow the population to spread.
- Continue to monitor and identify individuals so we can learn more about them, including the area they are inhabiting, what they are eating etc.
- Provide suitable denning sites - pine martens like to den in hollow trees however we are trialing the installation of artificial den boxes.
- Raise awareness through volunteering opportunities and engage with online audiences through live camera feeds.
Pine martens are a great indicator of healthy woodland and the discovery of them in Shropshire shows that there is potential for them to make a return across the whole of the UK if lost woodlands can be replanted and better connected.Shropshire Wildlife Trust
Find out more about the Pine Marten
History of the pine marten in the UK
Once found across Britain, the clearance of woodlands, together with predator control, had a devastating effect on the pine marten population and numbers were dramatically reduced.
From the 1930s, following a reduction in trapping pressure, pine martens began to recover in Scotland and the population has slowly expanded and re-colonised many parts of its former range. Today, pine martens are found throughout much of northern and central Scotland, as far south as the Central Belt, with some populations in parts of southern Scotland. Scotland’s population is estimated at 3,700 adult pine martens (Scottish Natural Heritage).
Pine martens have begun to spread over the Scottish/English border and re-colonise areas of Northumberland and Cumbria. Elsewhere in England, there are pine martens of unknown origin in Shropshire and Hampshire. Between 2015 – 2017, the Vincent Wildlife Trust translocated 51 pine martens from Scotland to mid-Wales, leading to the re-establishment of a viable marten population in Wales (Vincent Wildlife Trust).
An elusive Mustelid, the pine marten is mostly found in the north of the UK, particularly Scotland. Mostly chestnut-brown in colour, the pine marten has a characteristic pale yellow 'bib' on its chin and throat. It has a long, bushy tail.
Diet: It feeds on small rodents, birds, eggs, insects and fruit. Bilberries, Rowan berries and Blackberries make up much of a pine marten's summer diet, often resulting in its 'scats' (droppings) turning blue or red in colour.
Breeding: During the summer mating season, they make shrill, cat-like calls. The following spring, the female will have a litter of between one to five kits, which are independent by autumn.
Habitat: They prefer woodland habitats, climbing very well and living in tree holes, old squirrel dreys or old birds' nests. Pine martens regularly leave their scats on forest trails or in prominent places like boulders to mark their territories.
Average lifespan: up to 8 years.