NHBS Guide to Night Vision and Thermal Optics

There are many scenarios where our attempts to observe and survey certain species are hampered by our limited sensory systems. Many animals are difficult to detect because they utilise cryptic colouration or disruptive patterns, or they have evolved ingenious behaviours to conceal themselves within their environment. In other cases, environmental conditions such as low light levels or fog, can reduce visibility and disguise even some of our most obvious resident species.

Ecologists, researchers and amateur wildlife enthusiasts have overcome these sensory limitations by using thermal imaging and night vision optics. This article will cover how these different technologies function, highlight their key specifications and give recommendations for those looking to purchase one of these devices.

© Dûrzan cîrano

Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging works by using an electronic detector element to convert the infrared light (heat) emitted by objects in the environment into a visible pattern of colours that vary depending on the temperature of the object. Thermal imaging devices (TIDs) are becoming increasingly common in ecological surveys because, unlike night vision devices, they can produce an image in daylight or complete darkness, even through fog.

When choosing a TID there are a few key technical specifications that you should consider for your project:

  • Resolution – The clarity of the images/videos is determined by the number of heat sampling points. The higher the resolution, the easier it is to spot small animals at a distance.
  • Refresh Rate – Determines how often the screen is updated with a new image. A refresh rate of 30Hz or more is recommended for fast-moving animals such as birds and bats.
  • Zoom – This is particularly useful for larger species identification and counting your target more accurately.
  • Field of View (FOV) – The horizontal and vertical angle of view that you can see through the thermal imaging device. A wider field of view is useful when detecting small animals.
  • Maximum Detection Range – Gives an indication of how far the device will be able to detect a human-sized object effectively.
Pulsar Axion XM38

This thermal monocular has a compact, ergonomic design and features all the excellent capabilities of Pulsar’s more advanced thermal imaging devices.

  • Refresh rate: 50Hz
  • Sensor resolution: 320 x 240p
  • Digital zoom: 2x, 4x
  • Field of view: 5.8° horizontal
  • Max Detection Range: 1700m
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £2,059.99



See the full range of Pulsar Axion models

Pulsar Helion XP50

A powerful thermal imaging monocular with an impressive resolution and detection range, as well as full remote control through the Stream Vision app on a smartphone or tablet.

  • Refresh rate: 50Hz
  • Sensor resolution: 640 x 480p
  • Digital zoom: 2x, 4x, 8x
  • Field of view: 12.4°
  • Max Detection Range: 1800m
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £3,949.99

See the full range of Pulsar Helion XP & XQ models

Seek Thermal CompactPRO FF

Designed to be used with a smartphone or tablet these compact thermal detectors can be easily transported and are excellent for impromptu use.

  • Refresh rate: 15Hz
  • Sensor resolution: 320 x 240p
  • Digital zoom: 2x
  • Field of view: 32°
  • Max Detection Range: 550m
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: No
  • Price: £479.95

See the full range of Seek Compact models

Seek Shot

Designed to be used quickly and conveniently, these pocket-sized devices are excellent for obtaining thermal images of species such as bats when they are roosting in crevices and cavities. It is also available in a Pro version which has a greater sensor resolution and field of view.

  • Refresh rate: <9Hz
  • Sensor resolution: 206 x 156p
  • Field of view: 36° horizontal
  • Max Detection Range: 300m
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £579.95

 

Night Vision

Night vision technology operates either by using an image-intensifier tube (analogue) or an electronic sensor (digital) to amplify the small amount of light present in dark environments to generate a bright image. They typically produce a monochromatic green or greyscale image, however some newer technologies are now able to capture colour images in low light conditions.

There are a few specifications that you should consider when choosing an night vision device (NVD):

  • Viewing Range – The distance to which you can see and distinguish objects using the device can be crucial for certain projects. A low-end NVD will typically have a viewing range of around 200m, while more high-end models can achieve viewing ranges of up to 500m.
  • Analogue Night Vision – These scopes are grouped into generations. Gen 1 scopes are the most economic but have a limited range (approximately 75m), lower resolution and limited field of view. Gen 2 and 2+ scopes offer performance improvements such as longer range, better image resolution and greater field of view.
  • Digital Night Vision – Digital devices typically produce higher quality images than Generation 1 scopes, often have a video output or SD card allowing video capture.
  • IR illumination – Most night vision devices have a built in IR illuminator to increase the brightness of the images it takes, however purchasing an additional IR illuminator may be necessary when working in extreme darkness.
SiOnyx Aurora

New for 2019, this innovative night vision monocular utilises SiOnyx’s Ultra Low-Light Sesnor Technology to record colour footage not only during the day but also in both low-light and night-time conditions. It also features a wifi module to stream or transfer photos and videos, as well as a GPS module to automatically geotag and timestamp recordings.

  • Digital: Ultra Low-Light CMOS sensor
  • Digital Zoom: 1-3x
  • Field of view: 42°
  • Display colour: Colour, phosphor green, monochrome
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £799.99
Bushnell Equinox Z2

An impressive digital night vision monocular with a high sensor resolution and viewing range of up to 230m. It can take HD video recordings which can be streamed over Wifi using the dedicated Equinox Z2 App.

  • Digital: CMOS sensorDigital Zoom: 1-3x
  • Field of view: 105m @ 1000m
  • Display colour: Colour (in daylight), greyscale
  • Video Recording: Yes
  • Streaming capabilities: Yes
  • Price: £421.00



See the full range of Bushnell Equinox Z2 models

Yukon NVMT Spartan

An excellent gen 1 monocular that has been designed for ease of use in complete darkness. It is operated using only three buttons and features a lightweight and compact body-shell to protect against any damage.

  • Analogue: Generation 1
  • Lens diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 4x
  • Field of view: 15°
  • Display colour: Phosphor green
  • Video Recording: No
  • Streaming capabilities: No
  • Price: £235.00


MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about some of these products or to browse our full range of night vision and thermal imaging optics visit our online store at NHBS.com.

If you would like some more advice on choosing a thermal imaging or night vision device contact us via email at customer.services@nhbs.com or phone on 01803 865913.

New bird, bat and bee boxes for 2019

Providing nesting and roosting spaces for our wildlife is increasingly important as natural habitats and nest spaces are diminishing. Luckily, with the huge range available today, boxes for birds, bats and even bees can be sited almost anywhere from a tree in your garden, to within the walls of a new building and even free-standing. Below we will take a look at some of our newest bird, bat and bee boxes and what they can be used for.

introducing the Integrated Boxes by Green & Blue

The Bat Block

Green & Blue have just released two brand new products ready for this Spring.  Designed to be simple and easy to fit within the framework of new builds, the new Swift block and Bat block are sleek and made from recycled materials from the Cornish china clay industry. Both are standard UK block size and have slightly protruding entrances.

The Swift Block

Green & Blue BestSellers

As well as their new swift and bat boxes, Green & Blue also sell a range of blocks for bees. The blocks are made of 75% waste materials from the Cornish china clay industry and features small holes that appeal to a range of solitary bee species. The blocks range from small, brick-shaped blocks that can be built into walls or buildings, to large, stylish posts reaching 2.3m high, to plant pots that have space for you to plant bee-friendly flowers next to the solitary bee nesting holes.

New additions to the Eco Range

The ‘Eco’ range of boxes has recently expanded to feature a new Eco Bat Shelter and an Eco Tawny Owl Nest Box. These boxes are made of recycled plastic and the bat shelter comes in both a standard black and a brick-red colour. The bat shelter features a ceramic insert that helps to stabilize the internal temperature and is self-cleaning. The tawny owl nest box contains an FSC certified wooden nesting chamber which features built-in drainage holes meaning maintenance can be kept to a minimum. 

Aside from the new bat shelter and Tawny Owl nest box, the Eco range also includes a variety of boxes to cater for a wide range of bat and bird species. All of which are made from 100% recycled plastic and FSC certified wood and wood composite internal chambers. Click the images below to find out more.

Eco Range Bestsellers

Eco Barn Owl Nest Box

Eco Kent Bat Box

Eco Robin Nest Box

Eco Sparrow Tower

Integrated Habibat 003 Blended Box

The Habibat 003 is based upon the original Habibat box but features a blended facing to allow it to fit more seamlessly in building where the brickwork is built using stretcher/blended bond. The box provides the same internal roost space with insulating concrete and comes in a choice of three popular colours: smooth blue, smooth red or buff. If you have a more specific brick requirement or would like the box to match exactly your batch of bricks, the 003 is available with a custom facing where you can send your own bricks to be used or provide your brick code for the manufacturers to use on your box.

more information

If you would like some more advice on choosing bird or bat boxes, take a look at our previous blogs listed below or contact us via email at customer.services@nhbs.com or phone on 01803 865913.

Best Bird Boxes for Different Species 

Top 10 Bat Boxes for New Builds and Developments

Top 10 Bird Boxes for New Builds and Developments   

Top 10 Bat Boxes for Walls and Fences

Top 10 Bird Boxes for Walls and Fences

Top 10 Bat Boxes for Trees and Woodland  

Top 10 Bird Boxes for Trees and Woodland

The Importance of Nest Sites for Birds and Bees

Continue reading “New bird, bat and bee boxes for 2019”

New and Bestselling Trail Cameras for 2019

As we enter the warmer spring months many of the UK’s mammals become more active as they establish territories, build nests and find mates. Despite all this activity, observing and surveying these animals is often a challenging task. Trail cameras offer an easy, effective and non-invasive solution in many of these situations, earning its place as an essential kit piece for any ecologist or wildlife enthusiast.

Listed below are a selection of new models and old favorites from each of our trail camera ranges.

Browning trail cameras

New for 2019, NHBS has introduced a range of Browning trail cameras. These cameras boast a fantastic quality of workmanship, designed and developed in the US they are sure to become a firm favourite. A key feature of this brand is the ‘Smart IR technology’ which automatically adjusts the IR flash, ensuring crisp quality night photos.

The video below was captured on a Browning Strike Force Pro X. It demonstrates the fantastic quality of these cameras.

Image by Browning Trail Cameras

Each camera has its own unique technical specifications meaning you can find a camera to suit your project.

Command Ops Pro 14MP
An excellent entry-level camera with an impressive picture and audio quality at an economic price.

Command Ops Pro 14MP

 

* 14MP images
* 1280 x 720p HD videos with audio
* Low glow LEDs
* LCD Text display
* 21m Flash range
* Also available as a 16MP camera

 

 

Strike Force Pro X
This compact mid-range camera has a fast trigger speed and an excellent picture/video quality ensuring you capture every moment in fantastic quality.

Strike Force Pro X

 

* 20MP images
* 1600 x 900p HD videos with audio
* Low glow LEDs
* Full-colour 1.5-inch LCD screen
* 36m Flash range
* Fast trigger speed of 0.22s

 

 

Defender 940
A high-end camera with built-in Bluetooth and wireless capability and no glow LEDs to enable remote photo retrieval and minimise disturbance in the field.

Defender 940

*20 MP images
* 1920 x 1080p HD videos with audio
* No glow LEDs
* LCD Text display
* 24m Flash range
* Wireless and Bluetooth functionality accessed through the free Browning Defender App.

 


Recon Force 4K
This high-end model can take some of the highest quality pictures and videos on the market.

Recon Force 4K

 

* 32MP images
* 4K UHD videos with audio
* Low glow LEDs
* Full-colour 2-inch LCD screen
* 24m Flash range
* Adjustable trigger speed and detection range

 

Ltl Acorn Cameras

These compact cameras utilise three different motion sensors to ensure footage is taken at the optimum moment. They also feature a cellular module which when used with a SIM card allows you to receive captured images to a mobile or email address.

Ltl Acorn 5310
A great mid-range camera with excellent picture and video quality

Ltl Acorn 5310

 

* 12MP images
* 1920 x 1080p HD videos with audio
* No glow LEDs
* 15m Flash range
* Trigger speed 0.6s
* Colour LCD screen

SpyPoint Cameras

Renowned for their lightning fast trigger speeds and recovery speeds, SpyPoint cameras ensure you never miss a wildlife moment.

SpyPoint Force 11D
A robust and compact mid-range camera with a wealth of adjustable settings so you can take the best footage possible.

SpyPoint Force 11D

 

* 11MP images
* 1280 x 720p HD videos with audio
* Low glow LEDs
* Full colour 2-inch LCD screen
* 30m Flash range
* Fast trigger speed of 0.07s

 

 

SpyPoint Solar
Builds on the Force 11D by adding a solar panel which allows you to gather footage indefinitely when placed in sufficient sunlight.

SpyPoint Solar

 

* 12MP images
* 1280 x 720p HD videos with audio
* Low glow LEDs
* Full-colour 2-inch LCD screen
* 30m Flash range
* Fast trigger speed of 0.07s
* Compact solar panel attached to the top of the unit

 


SpyPoint Link-Dark
This high-end camera builds on the Force series by adding network functionality, allowing photos to be transmitted to a mobile phone.

SpyPoint Link-Dark

 

* 12MP images
* 1280 x 720p HD videos with audio
* Low glow LEDs
* Full-colour 2-inch LCD screen
* 30m Flash range
* Fast trigger speed of 0.07s
* GPS geotag
* Network unit with preactivated SIM

Bushnell Cameras

With an extensive history and a range of professional and entry-level models available, Bushnell trail cameras offer a reliable choice for quality and durability.

Trophy Cam Essential E3
A fantastic entry-camera with an impressive trigger speed.

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD Low Glow 20MP Tan
Trophy Cam Essential E3

 

* 16MP images
* 1280 x 720p HD videos with audio
* Low glow LEDs
* LCD Text display
* 30m Flash range
* Fast trigger speed of 0.3s

 

 

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD No-Glow
A high-end camera with a fast trigger speed and low detectability.

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD No-Glow

 

* 20/24MP images
* 1920 x 1080p HD videos with audio
* No glow LEDs
* Full colour LCD screen
* 25m Flash range
* Fast trigger speed of 0.2s

Reconyx Trail Cameras

These high-end trail cameras are a benchmark of high-quality and reliability.

Reconyx UltraFire XR6 Trail Camera
A robust camera with excellent video quality and a number of impressive features.

Reconyx UltraFire XR6 Trail Camera

 

* 8MP images
* 1920 x 1080p HD videos with stereo audio
* No glow LEDs
* Full colour LCD screen
* 25m Flash range
* Compatible with Buckview Advanced Software, to organise and map stored images.

 

Accessories

A number of accessories can be bought to help mount and secure your trail camera your camera in the perfect position.

Python Mini Cable Lock

Python Mini Cable Lock
Compatible with all of our retailed trail cameras. This versatile lock has been designed to be extremely resilient to damage and picking, protecting your camera from any potential theft.

Security Boxes
Many of our trail cameras can be contained within a matching security box which provides maximum protection when in the field. All of our security boxes can be locked using a standard padlock or python cable. Make sure when purchasing a security box that it will fit the intended trail camera.

See our full range of Security Boxes on our website.

Batteries
The batteries you use in your trail camera can influence its performance in the field. Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most popular choices because they produce a high voltage per cell (1.6v) giving a brighter LED flash and a greater flash range. Rechargeable alkaline batteries offer a more economical and environmentally friendly alternative, however, when in use their voltage decreases over time and they produce proportionately darker LED flashes and consequently, photographs/videos are less illuminated. Standard alkaline batteries are also a suitable economic alternative.

SanDisk Class Cards
Ensuring you use a high read-write speed SanDisk Class card is highly advised for all of our trail cameras. Be sure to check the maximum SD or SDXC card capacity for your intended camera as these can vary between models and brands.

Solar panels
Where sufficient sun is available, the addition of a solar panel to your trail camera can extend its recording life indefinitely. Bushnell, SpyPoint and Ltl Acorn all offer compatible solar panels for their trail cameras.

All of our trail cameras can be purchased as starter bundles which include an SD card and all the batteries you need to power the camera. The complete trail camera range can be found at www.nhbs.com

Can’t decide which camera you need? Why not take a look at our guide on choosing the camera that’s right for you.

Continue reading “New and Bestselling Trail Cameras for 2019”

Kaleidoscope Pro annual subscriptions now available

Kaleidoscope Pro is now available as an annual subscription, providing an economical way to access the excellent analysis features of this software.

A discounted package is also available for students or academics who buy a subscription using an official university purchase order.

Each subscription will give you access to the software for 366 days and an automated email will remind you to renew at the beginning of the month that your current subscription is due to expire.

For customers who have purchased a copy of Kaleidoscope Pro in 2017, Wildlife Acoustics are offering you the chance to convert this to an annual subscription. Depending on when your software was purchased, you will be entitled to a one, two or three-year subscription (see the table below). This offer is valid until the 31st January 2018.

To take advantage of this offer: When Kaleidoscope Pro 4.5 is launched, you will receive a popup window notifying you of the conversion offer. You will be able to accept or decline at this time. If you choose to accept, your permanent license will be deleted.

Echo Meter Touch iOS 11 Firmware Update

Wildlife Acoustics have recently been investigating a problem where first generation (black) Echo Meter Touch units are not working with devices running iOS 11. They have now developed a firmware update which will fix this issue.

Affected models will need to be returned to one of the Wildlife Acoustics service centres: these are located in the US, Australia and the UK. The update will be performed free of charge and your device shipped back to you as quickly as possible.

Only modules with serial numbers greater than EMT00494 are affected. Second generation (red) Echo Meter Touch 2 units are not affected.

Please use the following links to download a return form:
US and Australia repair form
UK repair form

Once units have been updated, any further alterations to the firmware will be able to be performed using a normal app update.

As a gesture of goodwill, Wildlife Acoustics will be donating US$10 for each module that is repaired before 31st January 2018, split between Bat Conservation International and the Bat Conservation Trust.

 

Kaleidoscope 4.3.0 Bioacoustic Software Now Available

The newest version of Kaleidoscope, version 4.3.0, is now available to download from the Wildlife Acoustics website.

See below for details about the new features included in this release, as well as a handy table to see which version of Kaleidoscope is right for you, and some useful tutorial videos.

New features include:

New Bat Auto-ID Classifiers
New bat classifiers for North America, Neotropics, Europe and South Africa as well as updated common names for some species. The default setting for classifiers is now “Balanced” which is a useful compromise between the more sensitive and more accurate options.

New time-saving workflow features
New features in the results viewer window include:
• When opening a saved results spreadsheet, a file browser allows you to easily locate the folder containing the corresponding input files
• Bulk ID multiple selected rows
• Bulk copy files in selected rows to a specified folder

Full support for GUANO metadata (Kaleidoscope Pro only)
Kaleidoscope now reads and write GUANO information alongside Wildlife Acoustics metadata (WAMD).  This will been shown in the file at the end of the metadata notes window.

Bug fixes
Several bugs have also been fixed in the new release, details of which can be found in the Kaleidoscope documentation.

Which version of Kaleidoscope is right for me?

Kaleidscope Tutorial Videos


Kaleidoscope UK, Kaleidoscope Neotropics and Kaleidoscope Pro are all available to purchase from NHBS.

 

What’s new for 2017 – Trail camera news

The days are getting longer and the clocks are set to British summer time here in the U.K. With the arrival of the warmer weather, our local wildlife is also becoming more active and now is a great time to set up a trail camera to see what’s going on in your garden or local outdoor space. If you’re lucky you may even spy young animals emerging from their burrows for the first time.

In this article we will take a look at some of our new and favourite trail cameras for 2017.

Bushnell Trail Cameras

This spring has seen a new range of cameras arrive on our shelves from Bushnell, featuring an exciting selection of brand new features.

The new Trophy Cam Aggressor range is available in four models. All of these share an excellent 0.2 second trigger speed and a recovery time of just 0.5 seconds, ideal for moving animals. A new Dynamic Video function means that the camera will record continuously while there is a subject in the detection range and an Auto Exposure function helps to avoid bleached out images when the subject is too close. Three preset functions allow easy configuration of advanced settings based on the location of the camera (choose from trail/scrape, feeder or food plot). The design of the case has also been improved with a strengthened cable lock channel, stronger latch and illuminated button panel.

The four models differ in their image/video resolution, type of night vision LEDs, screen type and case colour. Take a look at our handy guide below to see which is the right model for you.

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD No Glow 24MP Camo

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD No Glow 24MP Camo
* Bushnell code: 119877
* 24MP images
* 1920 x 1080p videos
* No glow LEDs
* Colour viewing screen
* Camouflage bodyshell

Find out more

 

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD No Glow 20MP Tan

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD No Glow 20MP Tan

 

* Bushnell code: 119876
* 20MP images
* 1920 x 1080p videos
* No glow LEDs
* Text screen
* Tan bodyshell

Find out more

 

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD Low Glow 24MP Camo

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD Low Glow 24MP Camo

 

* Bushnell code: 119875
* 24MP images
* 1920 x 1080p videos
* Low glow LEDs
* Colour viewing screen
* Camouflage bodyshell

Find out more

 

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD Low Glow 20MP Tan

Trophy Cam Aggressor HD Low Glow 20MP Tan

 

* Bushnell code: 119874
* 20MP images
* 1920 x 1080p videos
* Low glow LEDs
* Text screen
* Tan bodyshell

Find out more

 

Also new for 2017 is the Trophy Cam Essential E3 which improves on the popular E2 model with the addition of low glow LEDs, an improved flash range and higher resolution images. The fantastic NatureView Live View HD is also still available and features two close-focus lenses and a detachable viewing screen.

Spypoint Trail Cameras

Spypoint produce consistently high quality cameras and their range features several models that are exciting for wildlife enthusiasts.

Spypoint Force-11DThe Force-11D has an unbeatable trigger speed of just 0.07 seconds and an adjustable detection range of 1.5m to 24.4m with a curved motion sensor to improve the detection angle. 11MP images and 720p, high definition video can be captured while no glow LEDs make your camera completely inconspicuous.

 

Spypoint SolarThe Spypoint Solar provides another fantastic option, particularly if you want to leave your camera unattended for extended periods of time. The built-in solar panel will power the camera any time that the sun is shining, only switching to battery power at night or when there is insufficient sunlight. A 2″ colour screen lets you preview your images in the field.

 

All of our trail cameras can be purchased as a starter bundle which include an SD card and all the batteries you need to power the camera. The complete trail camera range can be found at www.nhbs.com

Can’t decide which camera you need? Why not take a look at our guide on choosing the camera that’s right for you.

 

Firmware update for the Anabat Express

Express Firmware 5506J

Anabat Toolbox 1.17

Titley Scientific has released a new firmware for your AnaBat Express.  It fixes a problem with the timezone recorded in GPS transect log files.

Run Anabat Toolbox and install the update. Then connect your Anabat Express via USB to upgrade the firmware.

Firmware updates from Wildlife Acoustics

New Firmware available for SM2, SM3 and SMZC product families

These firmware updates all address an SD card compatibility issue we have recently seen in a number of specific SD card models. If you have experienced SD card errors or corruption, this firmware update may resolve these issues.

SM3/SM3BAT/SM3M Firmware 1.2.7

In addition to the SD card issue above, this version also improves the interpretation of a program containing non-infinite loops. The firmware can be found here.

SMZC Firmware 1.0.6

In addition to the SD card issue above, this version also improves the interpretation of a program containing non-infinite loops. The firmware can be found here.

SM2/SM2BAT/SM2M Firmware 3.3.9

The firmware can be found here.

You can contact support2015@wildlifeacoustics.com if you have any questions.