Shipping Britain’s Treasure Islands to all UK secondary schools in three and a half weeks – phew!

Britain's Treasure Islands: A Journey to the UK Overseas TerritoriesNHBS have worked with Redfern Natural History Productions for many years now and we were delighted to help out with this special project when Stewart McPherson approached us about it.

Thanks to the very generous sponsorship of Lord Ashcroft, Redfern were recently able to donate one copy of Stewart McPherson’s latest book Britain’s Treasure Islands: A Journey to the UK Overseas Territories to every secondary school in the UK and across the overseas territories. At NHBS we organised the packing and delivery of each of these books, which in total was 5250 copies.

The dedicated packing station at NHBS
The dedicated packing station at NHBS

 The UK Overseas Territories are home to thousands of species of animals and plants in habitats ranging from coral reefs to tropical rainforests, polar landscapes and deserts.

Albatross: still from YouTube video "Shipping 5350 books - one copy for every secondary school in the UK"
Albatross: still from YouTube video “Shipping 5350 books – one copy for every secondary school in the UK” – see below

In Britain’s Treasure Islands (aired as a three-part documentary on BBC4 in April, with the book accompanying the series), Stewart McPherson showcases this incredible variety of wildlife, explores the human culture and history of the islands, and documents his adventures in these remarkable lands.

Britain's Treasure Islands freshly unwrapped in the NHBS warehouse
Britain’s Treasure Islands freshly unwrapped in the NHBS warehouse

This is a monumental work of over 700 pages, with more than 1,150 full colour images and 17 specially-commissioned gatefold maps on parchment paper showing the geography of each territory.

You can find out more about the project by visiting www.britainstreasureislands.com.

To send a copy of this wonderful book to every school, NHBS received 47 pallets of books directly from the printers, used seven pallets of specially designed cardboard boxes and 6039 metres of bubble wrap!

Unloading the pallets - all 47 of them!
Unloading the pallets – all 47 of them!

Eventually when all the books were packed the couriers took away 53 pallets of books from NHBS’ warehouse in Totnes, Devon over the course of a week.

One down, five thousand to go...
One down, five thousand to go…

The packing process took six people three and a half weeks to complete! You can watch the video below for a behind the scenes look at how this all happened.

Unboxing the new AnaBat Express bat detector

Introducing the new AnaBat Express bat detector from Titley Scientific. Watch the unboxing video below, and read on for our quick guide to the key functionality.

AnaBat Express overview

green tickWeatherproof bat detector for passive recording
green tickProgrammable recording schedule
green tickCompact and discreet design
green tickIntegrated GPS receiver
green tickOne-touch unit configuration

AnaBat Express Bat Detector

 

 

Monitoring with the AnaBat Express

The AnaBat Express Bat Detector is an exciting new weatherproof detector that is designed to be rapidly deployed for recording bat calls for species identification or activity monitoring. Based on the AnaBat frequency division technology, it records calls in zero crossing format on to an SD card, ready for analysis with the free downloadable software (AnaBat Toolbox and AnalookW). Customised recording schedules can be programmed on to an SD card using a PC and then uploaded to the AnaBat Express using the card.

AnaBat Express Internal DiagramFeatures and components

The AnaBat Express has an integrated GPS receiver that automatically sets the clock, calculates sunset and sunrise times and records the location of the device. The unit also has a ‘one-touch’ configuration capability, where you can programme it to record automatically from sunset to sunrise every night (based on GPS coordinates) just from one touch of the ‘Mode’ button, without having to use a PC for configuration. It is camouflaged and compact, with a weatherproof box and omni-directional weatherproof microphone, and it can be used with the AnaBat Express five metre microphone extension cable so that you can position the microphone away from the unit.

AnaBat Express Bat DetectorPowered by 4 x AA batteries; the unit should record for around 14 nights on one set of batteries and up to 30 nights with high quality lithium batteries. Supplied with padded case, wrist strap, 4GB SDHC card, 4 x AA batteries, a magnet for status checking and USB cable.

AnaBat Express Bat Detector

Nick Baker on Birdfair, and the delights of the NHBS stand

Nick BakerIt’s that time of the year again –  just like Christmas this little corner of the calendar is sacred, the Birdfair is my annual catch up with the people that circulate in the world of wildlife and wildlife conservation.

It’s a time to catch up with old friends and make new ones, as well as loiter with intent on various stands and stalls, fingering salubrious new publications, mentally re-mortgaging the house or conjuring up excuses to tell my wife as I clap eyes on another must-have high-end optic, or Esther Tyson painting, that has to hang on the wall.

Many have tried to emulate the Birdfair‘s greatness but have failed. The secret seems to be that it grew from a good genuine seed and not a commercial one. It started small and has since built up from a motley collection of gazebos slung up on the edge of Rutland water in 1987 to a fair that has been described as the ‘Glastonbury of wildlife’. It just seems to get bigger and bigger, and, more importantly, better.

Did I mention that for all its excellence it has to be one of the most misleadingly named events? Although sporting its fair share of feathers, and with a slight ornithological leaning, this fair is certainly by no means just about birds – and this often comes as a bit of a surprise to those that have not made the annual pilgrimage to the smallest county of Rutland.

Whether you’re in the market for a bespoke wildlife holiday, a shiny new pair of bins, nice new multi-laminate breathable pants (meant in the American sense of the word, although given the way the outdoor market is going it wouldn’t surprise me if the British definition comes into this market soon!), specialist books and equipment, and taking in every aspect and discipline that could be associated with natural history or wildlife, then there will be something here for you. It’s an important thing to mention too, especially in these times of austerity, that this is not wholly a commercial event; sure it is centered around the diverse and sometimes surprising number of trade stands (which in itself makes fascinating window shopping), but there are plenty of things to do and see (and of course learn about), from celebrity-led bug hunts, to wildlife panel shows and presentations.

The best thing about the wildlife world and its people is that generally speaking everyone is friendly and approachable, so if you’ve always hankered for a signed Simon King calendar or wanted to stroke the shiny pate of the world famous Mike Dilger then the Birdfair is your chance to do just that (well maybe not the latter but you get the gist, everyone is kind of approachable and they all know their stuff).

Nick Baker signing copies of the Bug Book on the NHBS stand, Birdfair 2011Throughout the three days of the fair, I shall be spending a lot of my time hanging around and blagging cups of tea off the staff at the NHBS stand, not only because I’m an ambassador for them but (don’t tell them this) it is where I would want to be standing anyhow. The NHBS stand is a Pandora’s box of delights for the naturalist, plenty of gorgeous field guides and other publications as well as loads of quality kit and equipment – from trail cameras and bat detectors to bug pots and pond nets. I will be on hand, along with other staff, to answer questions and queries as well as advise and demonstrate. For the first time this year there will be a selection of workshops and demos by various ‘experts’ – I for one will be playing around with  minibeasts and microscopes on the stand as well as attempting what may seem like the impossible: trying to hold the attention of an audience of several hundred in the main events tent, with nothing but a microscope (kindly supplied by Zeiss) and a bucket of pond sludge in my ‘virtual pond dip – live’. I have no idea whether this will work or not but come and either have your socks knocked off by some of Rutland Water’s most surprising inhabitants or watch me fail dismally and ‘die’ on stage. Either way it’ll be entertaining!

Well that is pretty much all there is to say (although truthfully I could go on a lot longer about the joys and qualities of the Birdfair weekend, but I was only going to write a brief taster). So do come along and see us on the stand, enjoy the fair, further your knowledge and have a great time surrounded by the best of the world of naturalists and natural history. If you can, try and build in a bit of time to check out the nature reserve itself, complete with not only the successfully reintroduced ospreys but also resident kingfishers, tree sparrows and a wonderful array of all the other creatures and plants that carry them on their shoulders.

What’s on the NHBS events schedule at Birdfair 2012?

NHBS events schedule at Birdfair 2012

 

 

NHBS at Birdfair 2012: our biggest Birdfair yet

This year we are gearing up for our biggest Birdfair yet!

NHBS has a bigger and better stand this year featuring a new workshop area with a full schedule of events all weekend. Come along to find out more about ultrasound bat detecting, pond-dipping, wildlife photography and more. And join us in the main Birdfair Event Marquee daily for a big screen live moth-trapping event with Phil Sterling and Richard Lewington on Friday, and a ‘Virtual Pond Dip’ with Nick Baker on Saturday and Sunday. As always we look forward to meeting you there, out of the office and in person!

Here’s the full ‘NHBS at Birdfair 2012’ line-up – click to enlarge:

NHBS events programme fro Birdfair 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Birdfair 2012: Friday 17th – Sunday 19th August, Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Egleton, Rutland, LE15 8BT

Getting started with the SM2BAT+ bat detector

SM2BAT+The Wildlife Acoustics Song Meter SM2BAT+ is a passive ultrasound recorder that can be left out in the field for long periods of time to record ultrasound at frequencies of up to 192 kHz. The SM2BAT+ comes packaged in a plain green weatherproof box making it easy to position discretely without the need for expensive or time consuming efforts to weatherproof/camouflage it. Setting a bat detector up for passive monitoring can be a slightly daunting experience for the first time user so we have produced an annotated internal diagram (see below right – click the image to enlarge) and this blog post describing our experiences getting started with the SM2BAT+. Despite feeling a little scared at Inside the SM2BAT+the sight of circuit boards I am pleased to report that I found the SM2BAT+ to be very user friendly – read on for our idiot’s guide to setting up an SM2BAT+.

Getting started

The first thing you will need to do is insert four D-Cell batteries into the slots. A number of variables affect battery life including the quality/type of the battery, temperature, and the recording mode. The manual produced by Wildlife Acoustics suggests that if high quality Alkaline D-Cells are used at 20oC then you should get 130 hours recording time at 192 kHz mono and 100 hours recording time at 192 kHz stereo or 384 kHz mono when using in WAV mode and over 300 hours of recording time when using ZCA mode.

Next you will need to insert an SDHC card into one of the Flash Card Slots. Wildlife Acoustics recommend using good quality SDHC Class 4 or Class 6 cards and a single 32GB card should easily last a minimum of 2 weeks.

How to programme your SM2BAT+

Now it is time to programme your SM2BAT+. Setting up a simple schedule is very easy, switch the unit on by pressing the WAKE/EXIT button. Once it has woken up you will be able to see whether your SDHC card has been accepted and how much spare memory is available. To programme your unit press the SELECT button to see the menu; then to scroll through the menu options press the UP and DOWN buttons, press BACK to move back up a level, and press SELECT to move left and/or toggle through a list of options.

Below left shows a schematic (click to enlarge) of the Song Meter Main Menu and includes the settings I used for a trial run of the SM2BAT+. The first page of the menu includes three options – Schedule, Settings and Utilities. Setting the schedule could not be easier, press SELECT when the cursor is flashing next to Schedule, then press SELECT again, update the time using the UP and DOWN buttons then press SELECT again to keep moving to the left filling in the details as you go. You will see that I have set our SM2BAT+ to come on at 20:30 and record for 10 hours.

SM2BAT+ SchematicPress BACK to come out of the Schedule menu and then DOWN to move to Settings, then SELECT again to enter the Settings menu. For a quick test of the unit you will need to set the time and date using the UP, DOWN, SELECT, and BACK buttons as before. Finally select AUDIO to check the recording settings. In my test run I opted for a Sample rate of 384000 (384 kHz) because we have lesser horseshoe bats in the Totnes area. This is because the maximum frequency recorded is equal to half the sample rate – consequently, at a sample rate of 384 kHz the SM2BAT+ will record ultrasound at frequencies up to 192 kHz on one channel (perfect for lesser horseshoes that echolocate at around 110 kHz). If you want to use both channels (i.e. two microphones) you have to record at a maximum sample rate of 192 kHz. Although you may miss lesser horseshoe bats the big advantage of using both channels is that you can separate the microphones (using extension cables – available from NHBS) by up to 100m, effectively doubling the number of bat detectors you own for the price of a couple of cables. Alternatively you can separate the microphones by 10-20m to measure flight directionality along a linear feature.

Next you need to select which channel to record on. Under Channels I selected Mono-L to record from the left hand microphone input. For Compression I selected Off which means that the SM2BAT+ is in trigger mode and records individual WAV files for each trigger.  Analook users may prefer to use the ZCA option which records individual ZCA files for each trigger. Alternatively, some users may prefer the WAC0 option which produces a continuous compressed WAC file for the duration of the recording period (actually the files are size limited so I found that 1hr 33min chunks are produced). That’s it… all you need to do now is take your SM2BAT+ to your field site.

Field set-up

Once at your field site check the settings and do a test recording. To do this plug some headphones into the headphone jack and start recording by pressing both the UP and DOWN buttons simultaneously. Once the recording has started press SELECT to view the channels and then make some ultrasound by eg. tapping your fingers and thumb together or rattling some keys. If all is well then put your unit back to sleep, seal the weatherproof enclosure (don’t forget to take a screwdriver with you) and plug your microphone in to the left hand microphone input (using your extension cable makes hiding the unit much easier). It is worth remembering that the indicator LED is visible when the lid is on so make sure this cannot be seen by passers-by.

Data analysis

Downloading the data is also easy – simply remove the SDHC card and place it into an SD card reader. To analyse the data I used Pettersson’s BatSound v4.12. My WAV files opened immediately and I used the Close, open, next button to scroll quickly through the files so the analysis was quick and painless. On my first night I recorded soprano pipistrelle and greater horseshoe bats in the centre of Totnes.

Available now from NHBS

 

New: Carwardine’s Ultimate Wildlife Experiences – plus great backlist special offer

Mark Carwardine's Ultimate Wildlife Experiences jacket image‘Ultimate Wildlife Experiences’ is the new book from Mark Carwardine: zoologist, conservationist, award-winning writer, TV and radio presenter, widely published wildlife photographer, best-selling author and columnist and wildlife tour leader. Carwardine’s last account of world wildlife travel – 2009’s Last Chance to See: In the Footsteps of Douglas Adams – found him teaming up with Stephen Fry to retrace the steps of Carwardine’s 1980 journey with Douglas Adams in search of some of the world’s most endangered animals.

His new book – with a foreword by Fry – is a product of his lifetime’s experience of wildlife encounters around the world and introduces 20 extraordinary adventures including catching sight of the rare spirit bears of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, navigating the hostile world of the Komodo dragon in Indonesia and finding favour with the curious and friendly Florida manatees.

Available now from NHBS

Two of Carwardine’s classic marine wildlife guides are now available from NHBS at nearly half price:

On the Trail of the Whale jacket imageOn the Trail of the Whale

 

£4.99 

was £9.95

 

 

The Shark-Watcher's Handbook jacket imageThe Shark Watcher’s Handbook

 

£9.99

was £16.99

 

The NHBS Batalogue 2012 – available now

NHBS Batalogue 2012The Batalogue is our annual catalogue of bat detectors and accessories for bat work and bat groups. There are hundreds of products and accessories to choose from, along with detailed specifications and comparison charts.

How to get the Batalogue

Option #1  Browse the Batalogue online

Option #2 Call (+44 (0) 1803 865913), or email us, for a free printed copy

Save 35% on ten natural history classics from Johns Hopkins UP this June

Always setting a high standard for scientific publishing, Johns Hopkins University Press titles span the range of our natural history subject areas providing solid high-quality research from top academics.

These ten books from JHUP have been – and continue to be – bestsellers at NHBS, and they are all on special offer at 35% off this June:

Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats jacket imageEcological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats

First published in 1988, “Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats” is widely acknowledged as the primary reference for both amateur and professional bat researchers. Only one group of mammals includes more species than bats. Bats live on every continent except Antarctica, range from deserts to tropical forests to mountains, and their activities have a profound effect on the ecosystems in which they live.

The Biology of Small Mammals jacket imageThe Biology of Small Mammals

The first exploration of the lives of small mammals undertaken in decades. Mammalogist Joseph F. Merritt offers an engaging, in-depth discussion about a diverse array of small mammals, from the rare Kitti’s hog-nosed bat of Southeast Asia to the bizarre aye-aye of Madagascar to the familiar woodchuck of North America.

Walker's Mammals of the World (Complete Edition) jacket imageWalker’s Mammals of the World (Complete Edition)

The sixth edition is 24% longer, and the number of separate genera has increased by 75 – among them, three remarkable large ungulates recently discovered in the forests of Indochina. New also is a full account of the woolly mammoth, now known to have survived until less than 4,000 years ago.

 

Walker's Bats of the World jacket imageWalker’s Bats of the World

Introduction by Thomas H. Kunz and Elizabeth D. Pierson. The first single segment of the leading reference workWalker’s Mammals of the World to become available as a separate volume. It is a complete guide to this varied order of mammals and includes scientific and common names, as well as the number and distribution of species, measurements and physical traits, habitat, daily and seasonal activity, population dynamics, home range, social life, reproduction, and longevity.

The Rise of Amphibians: 365 Million Years of Evolution jacket imageThe Rise of Amphibians: 365 Million Years of Evolution

For nearly 100 million years amphibians and their ancestors dominated the terrestrial and shallow water environments of the earth. Archaic animals with an amphibious way of life gave rise not only to modern frogs, salamanders, and caecilians but also to the ancestors of reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Mountain Gorillas: Biology, Conservation and Coexistence jacket imageMountain Gorillas: Biology, Conservation and Coexistence

Tucked into one of the most beautiful and conflicted regions of the world are the last of the mountain gorillas. These apes have survived centuries of human encroachment into their range and decades of intense conflict and violence. The remaining 720 mountain gorillas exist in a fragile habitat, nestled in an area torn by human interests and needs for land, water, and minerals.

Dragonfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Anisoptera jacket imageDragonfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Anisoptera

Dragonfly Genera of the New World is a beautifully illustrated and comprehensive guide to the taxonomy and ecology of dragonflies in North, Middle, and South America. A reference of the highest quality, this book reveals their striking beauty and complexity. Although Odonata – dragonflies and damselflies – are among the most studied groups of insects, until now there has been no reliable means to identify the New World genera of either group.

Damselfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Zygoptera jacket imageDamselfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Zygoptera

In this companion volume to “Dragonfly Genera of the New World”, Rosser W. Garrison, Natalia von Ellenrieder, and Jerry A. Louton provide a comprehensive, fully illustrated guide to the damselflies of North, Central, and South America. Damselflies are more diverse and harder to identify than dragonflies.

Forest Ecosystems jacket imageForest Ecosystems

This acclaimed textbook is the most comprehensive available in the field of forest ecology. Designed for advanced students of forest science, ecology, and environmental studies, it is also an essential reference for forest ecologists, foresters, and land managers.

Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes jacket imageChimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes

The first edition of Frans de Waal’s “Chimpanzee Politics” was acclaimed not only by primatologists for its scientific achievement but also by politicians, business leaders, and social psychologists for its remarkable insights into the most basic human needs and behaviors. Twenty-five years later, this book is considered a classic.

View the list of special offer books as a web page

Imagine a rock pool: wildlife kit winners with NHBS and Wildlife Watch magazine

NHBS Educational Rock Pooling KitIn association with NHBS, Wildlife Watch – the Wildlife Trusts‘ young members magazine – has been running a competition to win NHBS Educational Rock Pooling Kits

The task was to choose a shore creature and imagine a rock pool that would be ideally suited to its needs – and to draw it! There are five winners and their drawings suggest that there are plenty of inspired creative young minds out there with a passion for wildlife and environment.

Well done to the winners who should have received their rock pooling kits this week – you can see their creations here:

http://www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/Design-your-own-rock-pool

More NHBS Educational Kits:

Starter Butterfly Kit
Advanced Butterfly Kit
Educational Bug Hunting Kit
Advanced Bug Hunting Kit
Educational Pond Dipping Kit

New Edition of Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines – available now

From the Bat Conservation Trust website:

The Bat Conservation Trust encourages people working with bats, or those who might come into contact with bats or their roosts during their daily lives, to follow good practice.

We have worked with organisations and individuals across many sectors to develop a range of guidance to help you conduct your business or perform your work with consideration for bats.

Bat Surveys jacket imageBat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines, 2nd Ed.

Following feedback from experts in the field and authored by professionals, the Bat Conservation Trust has updated and revised the “Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines“. In line with the latest evidence and best practice the second edition features new chapters and content, with revised advice and guidance. This is the essential reference and guide for anyone involved in professional bat work.

BCT Members receive a 20% discount: please quote your membership number when ordering (in the ‘comments’ field when ordering online), and the discount will be applied when we process your order. Please disregard the full amount quoted in your shopping basket and automated order confirmation. If you are not a BCT member, click on the following link to join online now and claim your discount. 

Join the Bat Conservation Trust today