Photographing Pine Martens in Ireland

Pine marten staring at the camera Pine marten staring at the camera ©Darren McLoughlin. No usage without permission.

The elusive pine marten (martes martes) is the rarest of Ireland's mammals and along with our smallest, the pygmy shrew, is the one that most people are least likely to have encountered in Ireland.

Shy creatures, the pine marten is usually active at night, however I have observed them mostly during bright daylight.


About the size of a cat and similar to a stoat it is nevertheless unmistakeable when spotted. The ears are large with a light line, the fur is a dark red brown and the bib is creamy, they have a large busy tail. The Irish name for a pine marten is Cat crainn meaning tree cat and they can be found in trees of all sizes foraging for berries. The typical diet consists of insects, mice, berries and nuts.

Historically they were hunted for their fur and have suffered with deforestation resulting in loss of habitat. However, there appears to be evidence of a comeback in their numbers with surveys throughout Ireland showing more pine martens present in woodland than expected.

An amazingly beautiful creature to watch particularly when seen as pictured here with young kits in early summer. Sightings are not guaranteed but when you do see one it is something else.

Panoramic Ireland run photography courses and experiences throughout Ireland. Come and join me for a half day or full day photography experience starting at €180 for up to four people.


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