When I was working on the Great snipes in Poland, I was very busy in the evenings and most mornings. But during the day I had a lot of ‘free’ time. Most of the time I went for a good walk in the big forests nearby, mainly to find some nice landscapes. On this kind of walks I most often leave the long lens behind, because I don’t really enjoy snapshots of wildlife, I rather prefer good preparation, from hides and so on, and most of the time you just don’t get what you look for if you go unprepared anyway. But I don’t know why, but this time I decided to carry the heavy 600 mm on my walk.
When I was already a few hours in the forest, walking along a ditch I couldn’t cross, I heard a scream closeby, and then some running around on the ground, hidden by the tall vegetation. It took me quite a while to see what was out there, when suddenly a head popped out behind some branches: a Pine marten! My first reaction was to hide myself, and enjoy the observation. I knew from many times before, hurrying to grab the long lens out of the backpak, connecting it to the body, change all the settings to the situation, the animal would already be long gone! But then the Pine marten I saw, screamed again, and I knew what was going on, this must be a female and she must have her cubs nearby, which meant she would not leave the place quickly, at least not without her cubs! So I gently prepared my gear discretely, because I did not know yet where the young martens were. The martens screamed again and took off. I was thinking I got fooled again; just when I got ready…But then one of the youngsters appeared, and climbed up a branch. That’s what made the mother nervous and run away, in the hope it would follow her. But it didn’t and only climbed higher, which made the mother furious, this was no time to play! I started taking pictures, but I knew I couldn’t stay long, the mother marten knew I was there, and the only thing she could think of, is to take her cub as far away from me as possible! And I didn’t want to stress her even more. While she kept on screaming now and then, I heard a splash in the ditch, and then another one! Two more cubs! The family must have just crossed the deep ditch, and although the mother was very agile and experienced in crossing such a small dilemma, for the cubs this kind of wide long wet cold mass must have been very new, and couldn’t follow her mom that easy.
I stayed for five more minutes or so, and saw the wet cubs crawling out of the water, but the vegetation was too dense, so photographing that was impossible. In the meantime, the other cub was still having fun on his branch, while mother was looking very worried. It didn’t look like he wanted to come out, so I took off, and left them alone. I had seen Pine martens several times before, but to be so close and long, was really one of those wildlife-experiences you will never forget!