The Week in Review – 5th December

Trawler
The Global Fishing Watch Project has made satellite data from fishing vessels freely available online to raise citizen awareness of overfishing. Image by Winky.

 

News from outside the nest

This week…we read a great article about the “Send us your Skeletons” project and learned about the power of citizen science in gathering valuable data.

We also learned about the importance of citizen awareness in the Global Fishing Watch project. This amazing new scheme uses satellite data to make global issues of overfishing much more transparent, as well as making huge quantities of fisheries science data available to researchers.

These beautiful images hosted by Rough Guide showed us some incredible views of forests around the world.

With temperatures in 2014 now reported to be the hottest on record, we took a look at how different places around the world have experienced these heatwaves.

We learned about the feeding behaviour of the aptly named killer whale – and discovered why they are suddenly preying on humpbacks.

And finally…Martin Litton, one of the great pioneers of the environmental movement, sadly died on Sunday. In this article from the National Geographic we read about his life and legacy.

New arrivals at the warehouse

The 5th edition of the Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland contains stunning illustrations and photographs. It also features descriptions, distribution maps and site guides alongside a whole host of other great information.

The Barnacle Goose, the new Poyser Monograph, contains more than 25 years worth of research on these fascinating and sociable birds.

These Haglof Increment Borers are made from high quality Swedish steel – just the job for all your tree core sampling needs.

 

The Week in Review – 28th November

SNOWstorm - a research project monitoring the breeding grounds of snowy owls
Project SNOWstorm has been monitoring breeding snowy owls in the Canadian Arctic since the 1980s. Image by Erin Kohlenberg.

 

News from outside the nest

This week…we were fascinated by the intelligence and dexterity displayed by this octopus gathering and storing a coconut shell to use for protection.

We caught up on project SNOWstorm – a research endeavour which monitors the summer breeding areas of snowy owls in the Canadian Arctic.

We discovered how the flight of hummingbirds is more similar to that of insects than that of other birds.

November was Manatee Awareness Month: This vulnerable species, long time provider of fuel for mermaid myths, now number less than 10,000 in the wild.

The mystery of large numbers of dead porpoises washing up on the Netherlands coast was finally solved, with grey seals proving to be the surprising culprit.

A PhD student at Brunel University, London, created an ingenious DIY microscope to measure cell motility, saving himself hundreds of thousands of pounds.

And finally…a unique way of dealing with invasive species: The first beer made from invasive pond weed and zebra mussels went on sale in Minnosota.

New arrivals at the warehouse

Irish Bats in the 21st Century summarises the considerable body of bat research and surveillance that has been undertaken in Ireland in the 21st century, much of it by citizen scientists.

Mammals of Mexico is the first English language reference on the 500+ species of mammals found in diverse Mexican habitats – from the Sonoran desert to the Chiapas cloud forests.

The Ridgid SeeSnake CA-25 is an affordable endoscope with a 17mm waterproof camera head.

This Ultra High Resolution Nest Box Camera from Gardenature comes with a nestbox designed to BTO and RSPB guidelines and contains everything you need to start watching straight away.

 

How to choose the trail camera that’s right for you

Bushnell Dipper
This video of a dipper was taken with a Bushnell Trophy Cam and is a great example of what can be captured with an entry level camera.

Trail camera technology is developing all the time and the range of products on the market constantly expanding. While this is exciting, it can also be incredibly confusing, especially when you’re trying to choose which model is best suited to your needs.

Here are six things you should consider when trying to choose the trail camera that’s right for you:

1. Type of LEDs

The infrared LEDs on a trail camera provide the illumination needed to take pictures at night. Generally speaking, these come in two types: standard or low glow. Standard LEDs have a shorter wavelength which means that they will emit a small amount of visible light when activated. This will be seen as a small red flash. Low glow LEDs, having a longer wavelength, do not produce this tell-tale red glow so have obvious benefits for wildlife photography. Low glow types, however, will have a shorter range than standard LEDs. All models in the Ltl Acorn range come with a choice of standard or low-glow illumination.

2. Trigger speed

Trigger speed is the time taken for an image or video to be recorded after the infrared motion sensor has been triggered. If your subject is fast moving then a quicker trigger speed will help to ensure you capture great images. Fastest trigger speeds are currently around 0.2 seconds (e.g. the Reconyx HyperFire).

3. Picture and video resolution

As with any type of camera, image and video resolution are important, and the image quality you require will depend on what you will be using your footage for, along with your budget. Most trail cameras will give you the option to alter the resolution using compression or interpolation methods. This can be useful if you are deploying your camera for long periods, when memory card capacity may become an issue. It also means, however, that you should check the resolution of the camera image sensor as the advertised megapixel value often relates to the interpolated resolution (* see note below for a definition of interpolation).

4. Does it have a viewing screen?

Having an image preview screen in your trail camera is beneficial in two ways: Firstly, it allows you to quickly check the images that you have recorded without having to remove the SD card or plug it into a laptop. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it lets you take a few test images. By walking (or running) in front of the camera and checking the image captured, you can be assured that your camera angle and position is exactly right. The Bushnell NatureView HD Max and Minox DTC 1000 both have a good sized viewing screen.

5. Camera settings

All trail cameras will give you some control over the capture settings. Most will allow you to change the number of images taken per trigger as well as the length of video recorded. It is usually possible, as well, to specify the delay between photos and/or trigger events. Time lapse options allow you to take photographs at regular intervals between hours of your choice, and some cameras, such as those in the Bushnell range, can be set with two separate time lapse windows. This is useful if you are interested in both dusk and dawn activities.

6. Wireless functionality

Cameras with wireless functionality will send images directly to your mobile phone or email account. This offers huge time saving benefits, as well as reducing the amount of disturbance at your survey site. Several cameras now have wireless capabilities, and some will even allow you to alter your camera settings remotely. An activated SIM card is required to use these features. The Spypoint Mini-Live camera is just one example of a camera that will let you access your photos remotely.

 * Interpolation is where the software inside the camera produces a larger image by adding pixels. These extra pixels are created by application of an algorithm which uses adjacent pixels to create the most likely colour. 
 

The Week in Review – 21st November

Sea turtles
Six of the world’s seven species of sea turtle are now endangered, making rehabilitation of injured individuals extremely important. Image by Dominic Scaglioni.

News from outside the nest

This week we learned all about…

The importance of protected areas for conserving the planet’s diversity. Many of our reserves are failing to live up to their promised potential through poor management

The strange wasting syndrome that is affecting many important species of starfish and the scientists that are working to manage this problem.

Rehabilitation of sea turtles over 400 miles from the ocean. At the Second Chance Program, located in Pittsburgh, injured turtles are prepared for reintroduction to the wild.

A new theory which suggests that life could exist on planets in the absence of water, thriving instead on supercritical carbon dioxide.

Flying under the influence: A drunk tank for birds, situated in the Yukon territory, opens for business.

And finally…the UK’s first number two bus (quite literally). Powered entirely by human sewage and food waste, this bus is now in service between Bristol and Bath.

New arrivals at the warehouse

This new Programmable Heated Bat Box lets you set maximum and minimum daily temperatures for each month of the year, as well as letting you set up and monitor up to four boxes remotely via an online interface.

The Nest Box Camera Starter Kit contains everything you need to start filming birds in your garden. It includes an FSC timber bird box pre-fitted with a camera and 30m cable. Simply plug into your TV and start watching the action.

The long awaited new addition of Docks and Knotweeds of Britain and Ireland features additional hybrids and adventives, new distribution maps and keys, as well as 67 outstanding illustrations by Anne Farrer.

Animal Weapons by Douglas Emlen lets us take a look at the extreme weapons of the natural world: teeth, horns and claws, alongside the weapons developed by humans since battle began.

 

Five ecology questions you can answer with a Nikon Forestry Pro Rangefinder

The Nikon Forestry Pro Rangefinder is a hypsometer – a combination of clinometer and laser rangefinder (jump straight to our video explaining how to use it). They are incredibly useful for ecologists and field biologists – here are five commonly encountered survey measurements you can quickly and accurately use a Forestry Pro to answer:

Nikon Forestry Pro
The Nikon Forestry Pro Laser Rangefinder and Clinometer

 

1. How tall is that tree?

Foresters, or forest/woodland surveyors, commonly use a clinometer to measure the height of trees. This data can provide important information on tree growth rates, habitat structure, and timber volume.

2. How high is that bat roost entrance?

For bat workers and researchers, determining the location and height of roost entrances is a vital part of surveying the location of colonies, along with preferred habitat characteristics. The height of a bat box or artificial roost may also need to be measured, and the clinometer makes this possible without the need for a ladder and tape measure.

3. What is the slope of that hill?

You can use the clinometer function to determine the height and slope of an area of land such as a hill or mountain. They can also be useful for marine biologists and oceanographers for measuring changes in slope on beaches and dunes.

4. What’s the distance between these [two things]?

The laser rangefinder function can be used to measure distances between e.g. a hedge and windturbine or a house and a treeline. It is a particularly useful way of taking a measurement from Point A (where you are) to a Point B that you have a line of sight to but can’t directly access.

6. How tall is my colleague?

Ok, so maybe this isn’t something that you are likely to need (or want) to measure. But we wanted to see how the Forestry Pro managed with relatively modest heights and close distance (are the cows small or far away?). At its minimum operating distance of 10m it had no problem measuring a height of 150cm, demonstrating that this combined clinometer and laser rangefinder is suitable for measuring even small differences in height and inclination.

Why not take a look at the Forestry Pro in action?

Forestry Pro

The week in review – 14th November

This week we studied the formation of snowflakes
The complex and beautiful shapes formed by snowflakes are caused by the specific conditions experienced during their formation. Photo by bkaree1.

News from outside the nest

The Convention on Migratory Species in Ecuador, which closed on Sunday, approved greater protection measures for 31 species. These included the much loved polar bear, currently at risk from a warming arctic climate.

The world’s first solar bike lane, connecting the Amsterdam suburbs of Krommenie and Wormerveer, opened in the Netherlands.

In this documentary by William Douglas McMaster, we learned all about the man that single-handedly created a forest.

A study released this week showed that European bird species are declining at an alarming rate. This is a loss both for our world and in our hearts.

We took a look at the new trend for urban farming projects in Los Angeles.

A new antibiotic found in a mushroom living on horse dung may help to provide valuable information on antibiotic resistance.

And finally…with winter rapidly approaching (for us folk in the northern hemisphere) we discovered the fascinating world of snowflakes.

New arrivals at the warehouse

The Book of Beetles offers glorious lifesize photographs of six hundred beetle species along with distribution maps and other important information for each.

This new Bradt Guide to the Wildlife of Madagascar celebrates the unique fauna of a marvellous island.

These Sapphire ED Binoculars from Hawke Optics are winners of the Best Birding Binoculars 2013 Award.

The EasyLog Mini USB Temperature Logger is pocket-sized and affordable and will log temperatures for up to a month with one battery.

 

Our ten favourite (and free) apps for wildlife lovers

Title Image

These days there’s an app for everything and everyone. For those of us with a passion for nature and the outdoors, they provide a fantastic way to improve our knowledge and identification skills, record and share our findings and even contribute to scientific research. We’ve compiled a list of our ten favourite (and free) apps for wildlife lovers. Most of these are designed for UK users, but if you’re based in other countries, have a dig around at the App Store or on Google Play; there’s bound to be something there to inspire you.

All of the apps listed are available for iPhone and Android and they’re all free. So if you’re needing some inspiration to get outside and start exploring, look no further.

Project Noah

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Project Noah

Explore and document wildlife wherever you are in the world with this educational app. Discover new organisms, record and share the specimens you find and help scientists collect important ecological data.

Birdtrack

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Birdtrack

Produced by the British Trust for Ornithology, BirdTrack lets you create logs of your bird sightings and create year and life lists. View your local hotspots and see what species have been seen in your area.

BatLib

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Batlib

The BatLib app contains ultrasonic calls of the most common European bat species, transformed to a sound that you can hear. Extremely useful to compare with the sounds heard using your heterodyne detector and a great tool for those new to bat detecting.

Nature Finder

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Nature Finder

The Nature Finder app from The Wildlife Trusts is a brilliant way to plan your wildlife excursions and learn about the animals you see while you’re there. It includes a map of more than 2000 nature reserves, lists of events, information on UK wildlife species and a directory for all 47 Wildlife Trusts.

Mammal Tracker

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Mammal Tracker

Identify and submit your records of mammals when you’re out and about with this mammal tracker app and contribute to the Mammal Society’s mammal population map of the British Isles. Submit a photograph if possible so that mammal experts can verify your sighting.

iGeology

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - iGeology

Discover exactly what’s beneath your feet and how the hidden geology affects the landscape you see with this app from the British Geological Society. Includes over 500 geological maps of Britain, available to view in 3D or from a birds-eye view.

Roger’s Mushrooms

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Rogers Mushrooms

With detailed descriptions of over 1500 species of mushrooms and fungi across Europe and North America, Rogers Mushrooms app is a must for both beginner and expert mycologists. It includes multiple images of each species in different stages of maturity, along with a detailed description. Choose between the free Lite version or the Pro version for a price of £2.50.

ForestXplorer app

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Forest Xplorer

Find out more about the trees around you with this app from the Forestry Commission. As well as a picture gallery and tree identifier you can download trail maps, see events happening in your local woodland and share your findings with your friends via Facebook or Twitter.

PlantTracker app

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Plant Tracker

Join forces with the Environment Agency, the University of Bristol and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to help map some of the UK’s most problematic invasive plants. Learn how to identify these species and submit geo-tagged photographs whenever you come across them.

OPAL Bugs Count

Apps for Wildlife Lovers - Opal Bugs Count

Be a part of the nationwide bug hunt with this Bugs Count app. Learn about common groups of bugs, contribute to scientific research by taking part in a Species Quest and view the beautiful gallery of bug images from the Natural History Museum.

 

The Week in Review – 7th November

Emperor Penguins
PenguinBot has helped researchers gain crucial information about emperor penguins. Image by Lin Padgham.

News from outside the nest

This week we learned about PenguinBot, a remote controlled “penguin” used to collect information from micro-chipped birds without the need for the stress caused by contact with human researchers.

We read all about arctic ground squirrels, who bulk up on steroids for their winter hibernation period and have evolved to avoid the negative effects of steroids seen in humans and other mammals.

We pondered the question: Is music governed by biology or culture? following this research showing that the male hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) uses melodies which have the same harmonic intervals used in many of our well recognised music scales -the first time that this has been observed in any animals outside of humans.

Hummingbirds are notoriously beautiful and delicate, so it was intriguing to see a more combative side to these tiny birds and to discover how male aggression has played a role in the evolution of beak shape.

A newly discovered fossil found in Madagascar, described as a huge groundhog-like creature, has provide fascinating insights into early mammalian evolution.

A paper published this week in the journal Science showed us how the Mexican free-tailed bat uses acoustic calls to jam the echolocation of other bats competing for the same prey item.

And finally…zero gravity fun with a GoPro – NASA astronauts submerge a GoPro camera inside a floating ball of water.

New arrivals at the warehouse

Get ready for a brand new year of birdwatching with the Birdwatcher’s Yearbook 2015.

Compact, portable, yet packed with illustrations and information, the Birds of Costa Rica is the only guide you need for this wonderful birding destination.

The EasyLog Professional USB Temperature Logger is a great new addition to the range. This big brother of the EasyLog family is more robust and will last for even longer in the field, recording temperatures of up to 125ºC.

This Double Globe Planetarium is a great way to learn about our solar system. Project planets or stars onto your ceiling and listen along to the commentary. Great for kids (and lots of fun for us adults too).

 

The Week in Review – 31st October

Blood drop
Extremely rare blood types affect the lives of patients, donors, doctors and scientists around the world. Image by Mattia Belletti.

News from outside the nest

This week we took a Trip Around the World in 92 Minutes with this wonderful collection of images taken from the International Space Station by Chris Hadfield.

From there we took a visual journal on a different scale, and were mesmerised by the winning photos from the Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition.

In Ethiopia, a tree and shrub planting program which has already transformed the landscape is set to continue following a pledge to restore an additional 15m hectares by 2030.

In this fascinating article we learned all about rare, and extremely rare, blood types, and how these affect the lives of patients, donors and surgeons, as well as the scientists that study them.

This new research has shown that bats hang out with their “friends” when roosting in woodlands, and that social groups are surprisingly distinct.

And finally…this image of the sun, taken from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory spacecraft, helped to get us in the mood for Halloween.

New arrivals at the warehouse

These Zeiss Victory Binoculars are high performance and have a handy one touch rangefinder to measure distance.

The Reconyx UltraFire records 8MP images and 1080p videos. It has invisible night vision illumination and a preview screen, allowing you to view your footage in the field.

 

The Week in Review – 24th October

Baitfish shoal
The beautiful iridescence seen in this shoal of baitfish provides camouflage in shallow water. Image by William Warby.

News from outside the nest

This week we learned all about the shiny things of the natural world and the underlying structures that create iridescence.

We read about nature’s lovers and fighters: from this fascinating research into the beginnings of sex on earth…to the long drawn out battles occurring between hives of Australian bees.

Providing a new solution for the management of non-native plants, the humble goat has proven to be a great non-toxic approach in the East Coat Marshes of the US and Canada.

We found these rare images of a smallspine spookfish truly bizarre.

It is always fascinating to see the human-like characteristics of our closest relatives, and this new research showing chimpanzees searching for their favourite tool was no exception.

And finally…”A grizzly stole my GoPro!” – This footage from Knight Inlet in Canada made us laugh.

New arrivals at the warehouse

Perfect for Christmas, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 Desk Diary is now in stock.

Two new additions to the range of FSC fold-out guides: Mosses and Liverworts of Woodlands and Mosses and Liverworts of Towns and Gardens

From the keyring sized Micra to the tool-packed Surge, there’s a Leatherman for everyone.

SteriPEN UV water purifiers are perfect for the traveller or field worker.