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Wednesday 30 November 2011

Camera survey of a local spruce plantation.

Norway Spruce plantation

Norway Spruce canopy
I was recently asked to carry out a survey for Red Squirrels and their dreys (nests) in a local plantation of dense Norway Spruce.

This is an area which normally shows a fairly high incidence of squirrel feeding during the late summer and autumn but the most recent signs I found were at least a month old and mostly green cone feeding from summer and early autumn.

This year has been extremely wet in this area and coupled with an almost non existent hazel crop, it's possible that mortality may be higher than normal.

I've looked, many times for dreys in this plantation and so far had not seen any. This occasion was no exception and as you can see from the images on the left, the tree density makes it an almost impossible task.

I used trail cameras in several places in the hope that one of them might catch a squirrel. In one part of the plantation where the most recent feeding signs were found I also discovered a group of fungi, which some animal had been feeding on. In the hope of finding out what, I set two of the cameras at different angles over these.

The other cameras I set nearby for several days but still no squirrels.

When I returned to collect the cameras I saw      where badgers had been turning the ground for earthworms and as you can see in the video composite below, the area was visited by a fox, two badgers and a Pine Marten in a hurry.

The light in the marten shot is the second camera firing. Both cameras are 'black flash' so this is just what the camera can see.

There are also two images of Red Squirrel dreys shown below for reference. These are both about 10 metres of the ground. They are not always this visible.

Red Squirrel drey in Scots Pine

Red Squirrel drey in Norway Spruce

Monday 28 November 2011

Dog Falls and Loch Beinn a' Mheadhain in Glen Affric

Dog Falls
A happy Kathy with the dogs, under an old Scots Pine
A week last Friday, Kathy and I decided to take the dogs round to Dog Falls in Glen Affric and walk up to a view of Loch Beinn a' Mheadhain.

The day was overcast and threatening rain but only managed wind and a light drizzle. From the viewpoint I took a shot of Loch Beinn a' Mheadhain (pronounced - ben a veyan) under a dark sky and then we diverted up the hill into some sheltered Pines for a brew up before returning.

We saw Woodcock which migrate here for the winter and somewhere on the hill above we heard a deer whistle an alarm call.

Happy days.

Loch Beinn a' Mheadhain looking west from above the dam

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Guisachan Farm - Sunset, Moonrise and Autumn

Guisachan Farm - November sunset
Moonrise over the old Guisachan House ruin
Autumn colours on the hillside above  Guisachan Farm

Tuesday 8 November 2011

The Porsche Cayennes of Larissa | Habitat Aid's Blog

This topical comment on the Greek economy and its parallels in conservation, by Nick Mann at Habitat Aid is well worth a read.

The Porsche Cayennes of Larissa | Habitat Aid's Blog:

Monday 7 November 2011

Trees for Life 2012 Calendar

This last weekend I was horrified to discover that I had accidentally scrambled the trees for life link code (top of right hand sidebar) and the link was sending everyone to a completely different site; so as part of my apology to them I thought I'd promote their 2012 calendar.

This year they've changed the calendar to focus exclusively on the Caledonian Forest, and it features outstanding photographs of the trees and wildlife there, together with thoughtful quotes about forests and the importance of volunteering. Beautifully produced to a high standard, it includes plenty of space for appointments and will provide inspiration all year long.

Order your 'Trees for Life' 2012 calendar

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Trail camera colour balance, sharpness and dynamic range

Fig 1. Acorn full frame
Fig 2. Acorn centre frame
All these images are shot at the same time so conditions for each camera are identical.

I deliberately included a fair amount of sky in the frame to push the dynamic range.
Click an image to open in a new window.

Fig 3. Bushnell full frame
Fig 4. Bushnell centre frame

Colour balance.

The Bushnell is warmer than natural, while the Acorn is slightly cool and the Prostalk much cooler than natural.

Fig 5. Prostalk full frame
Fig 6. Prostalk centre frame
Dynamic range.

The Bushnell dynamic range is by far the best but darker than I would prefer.
The Acorn looses some sky detail and the Prostalk performs poorly with noticeable blue fringing.

Sharpness and clarity.

The Bushnell again performs best while the Acorn is soft in the centre frame image (fig 2). The Prostalk looks sharp in the full frame image (fig 5) but shows the pixels significantly breaking down in the centre frame image (fig 6).

Overall performance.

1 Bushnell   2 Acorn   3 Prostalk

Cameras under test are
 Acorn 5210A 940nm, Bushnell Trophy Cam 2010 model 119445 and Hawke ProStalk PC2000
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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.