Summer Watch: The Pine Marten Masquerade

A rare glimpse of the retiring pine marten . . .

When I was watching Springwatch a month ago little did I know that I would be one of the lucky few to spot a Pine Marten. The animal was featured on the programme and named as a rare and endangered species. I feel blessed by this extraordinary sighting which took place during my personal Summer Watch (no, it will not be televised ;)) and am currently writing a poem based on the experience called ‘The Pine Marten Masquerade’.

I use the term masquerade because the creature moves in a cat-like fashion and resembles one in many ways. It amuses me to think that the animal might be aware of this misconception and use it to his advantage. The main features that distinguish a Pine Marten from a cat are the tail, which is much bushier and the face, which is heart-shaped and impish.

I’m told the Pine Marten is a solitary animal. This has inspired me to explore his secret life in verse and I have conducted my research accordingly. Apparently they will eat almost anything but devour mice, rats and rabbits in particular. They have a long life span of up to 17 years and litters usually comprise of 2-5 babies. They are excellent climbers and defend their territory ferociously. The Pine Marten’s senses are developed to an acute level and they act on instinct, exhibiting an innate curiosity and joyful spirit.

In other words the Pine Marten makes a perfect topic for a poem and I am thoroughly enjoying the creative process, assessing his characteristics, his appearance, his movement and attempting to provide the reader with an accurate poetic snapshot.

Poetry is also set to feature more prominently in my social life. The other evening I attended a poetry reading at Carrick-on-Suir’s Brewery Lane Theatre. It’s a charming, characterful venue and reminds me of Adelina Patti’s theatre at Craig-y-Nos Castle in the Swansea Valley. I have visited the castle many times over the years with my parents and love the atmosphere so the comparison is very positive.

The evening’s poetry enfolded in relaxed and friendly company. We were all able to read two poems, they could be our own work or written by a favourite author. I chose to read ‘The Moonfish’ from my 2006 collection ‘Of Mermaids and Moonfish’ and ‘Acorn’ from ‘A Flower Girl’s Tears’ (2008). It was strange to find myself getting up in front of a crowd again. I thought I had left that life behind and now find myself embracing it with unbounded enthusiasm. Reading gave me a real buzz, I loved the feeling of presenting my work, lending my voice to it, making connections.

Of course I was nervous. I was just grateful that my knees didn’t tremble, leading my new acquaintances to believe I was attempting some kind of expressive dance! I’ll leave that to the graceful while I continue to dust off my poetry collections and prepare for more readings, as well as writing new material.

Pine Marten picture sourced at:

Summer Watch: The Pine Marten Masquerade

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