Earlier this summer I went to the west coast of Scotland to try to photograph pine martens. The cottage I stayed in, Dunlachlan Cottage in Strontian, is well-known for the pine martens that visitors feed in its garden.
But this year sightings had been scarce. I tried not to let the lack of entries in the visitors log book get me down when I arrived. I had brought boxes and boxes of equipment, including surveillance cameras, screens, flashes, tripods, netting, camera traps, security lights and motion sensors, with me and spent the first evening setting all this up in a sitting room which I planned to use as my pine marten surveillance headquarters.
I also set about transforming the garden with old logs that I thought would make a good backdrop for the pine martens to pose on when and if they showed up. I smeared traces of jam and peanut butter up the branch to attract the pine marten on to it. I worked until gone 10pm that night and was delighted when a pine marten appeared that very evening and even climbed my prop. Unfortunately it was raining hard so I wasn't able to take any photographs.
However this turned out to be a touch of false hope. I spent the next week waking up at dawn each morning and waiting until gone midnight most nights for the pine marten to reappear. On one night the only creatures I saw were a wood mouse and a cat.
But at last on my last night I heard a black bird call out in alarm and at the same time heard an animal move through the forest. It was another two hours before the pine marten appeared, its cream bib catching the glow from my night lights. It looked my way for a split second and in that moment I took the photograph I had been after all this time!