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.

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. 
 

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

Collecting visual evidence of bats at roost entrances

Aim
Recording bats and their behaviour around roost entrances can be extremely useful for a number of reasons: as evidence to present to a client, to demonstrate or test for a change in behaviour during or after mitigation, and as a back-up system to record the presence of the quieter bats like the brown long-eared. We tested two night vision systems at a lesser horseshoe maternity roost.

Yukon Stringer 5 x 50 Night Vision MonocularPulsar Quantum S Series Thermal Imaging Scope

Methods

We set up two very different night vision video recorders on tripods near the entrance of a large lesser horseshoe roost near Totnes, Devon. The first was the Yukon Stringer 5 x 50 Night Vision Monocular, a very reasonably priced Generation One night vision device with a built-in video recorder. The second was the Pulsar Quantum HD38S Thermal Imaging Scope, a thermal imaging camera with a 30 Hz refresh rate coupled with a Yukon MPR Mobile Player / Recorder. Both were used to film bats as they emerged from the roost entrance and as they flew around the garage within which the roost entrance is sited.

Results
The two videos below demonstrate close-up and distance footage from both the Yukon Stringer and the Pulsar Quantum:

Video: Surveying a bat maternity roost - Close upVideo: Surveying a bat maternity roost - At a distance

Discussion

Image Quality: The Pulsar Quantum produced some very high quality video that was clear and easy to interpret. The results from the Yukon Stringer are slightly less clear but are still of sufficiently high quality for most purposes.

Usability: The Yukon Stringer does have a much narrower depth of field and due to the fixed zoom it proved very hard to get any decent footage of the bats flying around within the garage space.

Battery Life: The only drawback was the short battery life of both the Quantum and the Yukon MPR Mobile Recorder. To get round this we used the EPS5 External Battery on the Pulsar Quantum and changed the batteries of the Yukon MPR regularly – not the ideal solution but the cheapest way we know of to get some really impressive thermal imaging video.

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