Bioacoustic recording is a valuable method of surveying animal populations for research and conservation, as the sounds made by many animals are unique to the species or individual. The collection and preservation of such sounds have also become an art form for many amateur naturalists.
In comparison to music or voice recording, capturing the sounds of nature in the outdoors poses a number of challenges. These include dealing with the complications of wind and other ambient noises as well as subjects which can be extremely quiet and that may need to be recorded from a distance. Having suitable equipment and understanding the best ways to use it can go a long way to minimising these issues.
A portable recorder will allow you to save your recordings onto an SD card, and many offer a range of on-board editing functions as well as a triggered recording option. In situations where the noise of the recorder is significant or when a microphone extension cable is being used, a preamplifier can improve the quality of your recordings.
For those involved in bioacoustic surveying, the addition of a software package can help you analyse your recording, and figure out the exact species that you have captured.
NHBS stocks a wide range of sound recording equipment, including recorders, microphones, hydrophones and preamplifiers, as well as headphones, tripods and all the cables you need to connect the equipment together. Take a look at the website or our catalogue to see what’s available.
Bushnell Trail Cameras are rapidly becoming the cameras of choice for researchers, conservationists and amateur naturalists around the world. Their ability to let you monitor a survey site or capture the action in your garden when you’re not around makes them a great tool for anyone interested in wildlife and animal behaviour. This spring sees the release of a new range of Bushnell cameras with a model available to suit every application and budget.
The Trophy Cam line now includes the entry level Essential HD as well as the Aggressor HD which has higher resolution, a faster trigger speed and a choice of no glow or low glow LEDs. The brand new Trophy Cam Wireless (coming soon) completes the range and allows you to send images directly to your phone, tablet or computer.
The popular NatureView camera is now available in two models: The affordable HD Essential and the HD Live View (both coming soon). The HD Live View comes with two additional close focus lenses for great close-up images of wildlife.
The new Surveillance Cam is equally suitable for monitoring a survey site near your home or for security purposes. It utilises a WiFi capable SD card (included) to transmit images or videos to a nearby phone or computer up to a distance of 24m.
All Bushnell cameras are available as a starter bundle which contains batteries and an SD card; everything you need to get started capturing great images and videos. Other accessories include security cases and cable locks to keep your camera safe in the field, a tree bracket for easy positioning and a solar panel, which will extend the battery life.
Wildlife Acoustics have made some upgrades to their ultrasonic microphones this year – read on to understand what this means for you.
SM2BAT+ user An entirely new microphone is now available for SM2BAT+ users – the SMX-U1. This microphone is different in every respect from the original SMX-US microphone. The microphone element has been upgraded to a Knowles FG element which is more resistant to moisture but has greater sensitivity and a flatter frequency response so you will record more bats. The old foam windscreen has been replaced with a new and improved weatherproof membrane that will not hold water, and the microphone body is now slimmer and stronger. The old SMX-US microphone is still available in limited quantities if needed to provide continuity on a long term survey – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to check availability before ordering.
SM3BAT+ or SMZC user The new SMM-U1 is electronically identical to the old SM3-U1 microphone and will give very similar results. The new model differs from the old version in two ways – the casing is now smaller and stronger and the old windscreen has been replaced by a new weatherproof membrane that will not hold water.
EM3+ (with optional external microphone) user
The EM3+ cannot be used with either of the new microphones. NHBS will continue to hold stock of the SMX-US and SMX-UTmicrophones for as long as possible for use as an external microphone for the EM3+ – pick up a spare if these are critical to your workflow.
Here’s Wildlife Acoustics microphone guide showing all models, compatibility and microphone type.
This short guide helped us to address the most common questions posed by “climate change challengers”.
We discovered the OceanAdapt website which lets members of the public search and download geographic data of more than 650 species of fish and invertebrates and track how these have changed over time…a hugely valuable resource for fishermen and scientists.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.