Living the Wild Life

Series 5: Pine Martens & Kestrels

Colin goes on the hunt for a family of kestrels in Connemara and returns to visit the pine martens living in the attic at artist Richard Ward's house.

Colin begins this episode with a return to Tomnafinneog Woods in Co Wicklow where Emma Sheehy is investigating the impact of the pine marten on grey squirrels populations in Irish woodlands. To determine pine marten numbers in a woodland and the extent of their predation of grey squirrels, Emma has recruited trainer Louise Wilson from Conservations Dogs UK and her three-year-old labrador Luna, who is trained to find pine marten scats and has no problem sniffing out the evidence that Emma needs. In the space of a couple of hours Luna has located several scats that allows Emma to continue her investigations into this particular woodland.

Colin then returns to Connemara for one last glimpse of Richard Ward's pine marten squatters before the kits move on to find new territories of their own. And quite the visit it turns out to be, as Colin observes the whole family at play. The kits are much bigger now and as they leave home in search of their own territory, they're quite prepared to fight tooth and nail to stake their claim.

Colin continues his journey west to meet Dermot Breen from the National Parks and Wildlife service who has located a kestrel nest with five 10 day-old chicks whose diet is quite extraordinary. After observing the chicks for a few days, Colin discovers that - every 20 minutes - mum is returning to the nest with a lizard which the chicks take in turn to eat whole.

A few weeks later, Colin returns, horrrified to find that the chicks themselves have been predated - possibly by a local fox or badger. It's a heartbreaking revelation but Dermot points Colin toward another nest in a safer location further down the coast - a tiny island just off the cliffs of Connemara where three chicks are almost ready to fly. Guess what they're feeding on? Lizards. What else?>

If you would like to find out more about pine martens and Emmas project you can go to and to see more of Richards art visit


What's On