Close Encounters of the Marten Kind at Jilling Terraces

August 31, 2017, 1415 Hrs

We reached Jilling Terraces after a trek of about 90 minutes from Matial, the last bit in a steady downpour.
Matial is in Uttarakhand, about 40kms from Kathgodam, the nearest railhead that connects one to
New Delhi.
After a refreshing lunch, we settled in our rooms.
My room was called Kafal, after the wild berries found in the Himalayas.
It was my second visit to Jilling.
The first was more than 5 years ago when Sheela and Rajeev were still renovating this charming bungalow
to convert it into a getaway in the hills.
This visit was with Avijit, a young naturalist from Calcutta, Sukriti, a young content writer and Vaibhavi, a
young architect, both from Sheela’s office in Delhi.
We were all here to study and observe the place during the monsoon season.
The weather did not improve much by evening and we retired for the night after chatting for a short while,
post dinner.

September 01 2017 0700 Hrs

I was up by 6 am to the calls of the slaty headed parakeets and the Black-headed Jay.
As the weather was clear I was looking out for birds. While looking out of the southern window,
I suddenly spotted two golden furry shapes run down from the upper slope and disappear
into the slopes below.

marten animal 1.png

I could scarcely believe my eyes. Was I dreaming or did I just see a pair of Martens?
I quickly referred Vivek Menon’s book on Indian Mammals and there it was – my first sighting of the
Yellow Throated Marten.
This marten is subtly different from the Nilgiri Marten, found in South India.
Both the animals though are shy and elusive.
It was my lucky day, I thought, to see a pair of them.
Avijit too was elated and we looked forward to spotting them once again in the coming days.

September 02, 2017 5.30pm

The weather being conducive, we spent the latter part of the day exploring the lower slopes.
We saw a lot of birds in the couple of hours we were there.
As a mist was fast approaching, we started getting back up to the main house.
Just as we were reaching the flight of steps near my room, we spotted the martens on the
higher slope. They were back!!


marten kind 3.png

We rushed up the steps, cameras ready.
While I took a few quick shots, Avijit took a video of the animals.
The martens, unaccustomed to all the attention they were getting ran up the slope and vanished in the

We now realized that the Martens were coming to forage for food near the kitchen and that’s why I decided
to keep watch for the next morning.

Sept 03 2017 6.45am

I was up by 6 am once again and made elaborate arrangements for a possible date with the Martens.
I had my tea early, kept the camera handy and waited.
In between waiting for the martens to appear, I went to the library to pick up a book and on my return, as I
was entering the room, something made me look back and there it was.... the marten on the slope catching
the sun.

marten animal 2.png


Without breaking my stride I quickly picked up the camera, turned around and shot a few pictures of this
beautiful animal before it once again bound up the slope in alarm while thinking –
“who is this pesky guest.”

PS: A family of Khaleej Pheasants too were looking for food and at one point the startled male took off in
alarm on seeing the Martens approaching.