How to Photograph Kounavis (Beech Marten)

The Kounavi is a large, mostly nocturnal, animal that is widespread in Corfu and has a deserved reputation for being destructive and invasive. Often the only way you’ll know they’re about is the Kounavi poop lying around in the mornings.

The Kounavi is actually a Beech Marten (Martes foina) which is also known as the Stone Marten, House Marten or White-breasted Marten. The species is common throughout Europe and there is a healthy population on Corfu. It is similar to the more commonly known Pine Marten but differs from it by its smaller size and habitat.

Beech Martens mostly live a solitary life and are nocturnal animals, rarely seen during daylight hours except during the mating season. They are very much a territorial animal and keep their distance from others of their species and it is only during the breeding season that their shrill cries can be heard.

If you are extremely lucky, you might catch a young Kounavi in the open during the day and it might stay still long enough to get a photograph if you have your camera ready, and lightning fast reactions. Social media is full of images of Kounavi vanishing into the distance, and an absence of regular photos on the Corfu Wildlife sites is testament to their ability to avoid a camera.

When it comes to photographing Kounavi in the wild, don’t expect it to be easy. They have everything on their side, darkness, night vision; an acute sense of smell and an unerring ability to frustrate the best efforts of a nature photographer.

Setting up the Photograph

Getting the Kounavi where you want it

When trying to photograph a nocturnal animal like a Kounavi, the main problem is that the camera requires light……and there isn’t any. There’s no point in trying to run around the countryside with a flash on your camera in the hope of spotting a Kounavi, you can bet that wherever you are, the Kounavi isn’t. The only hope is to get the little blighters to come to you and, in this respect, humanity is blessed with the ideal substances to achieve this aim. Our secret weapon is a mixture of peanut butter and strawberry jam, which the Kounavi find irresistible. I have found a mix ratio of 3:1 peanut butter to jam works very well, spread a tablespoon of it on a rock or log and it’ll be gone by morning if Kounavi are about. Do this every day for at least a week so the Kounavi gets used to the routine and I’d recommend checking the bait point at around 11pm to see if it has been eaten. The bait point should be somewhere dark (no illumination from street or house lights) and