Biosis recently acquired a Flir E60 handheld thermal video camera to extend our fauna survey capacity. We have been successfully using these cameras over the past two years to monitor numbers of the critically endangered Southern Bent-wing Bat exiting caves in south west Victoria. The cameras detect heat emitted by the bats and the video footage is recorded in the field onto a portable hard disk. The recorded footage is then processed through software that allocates bat movements and automatically counts the number of exiting bats.
This method of counting exiting bats is far more efficient than traditional physical counting methods (and not quite so messy!).
Here is an example of a thermal video recording Southern Bent-wing Bat exiting a cave in south west Victoria.
The same camera can be used to observe any animal that emits heat and therefore has great application for locating arboreal species such as small possums and gliders or ground dwelling species such as bandicoots and dunnarts. It is also able to detect nocturnal birds such as owls and other cryptic species.
Biosis has used thermal cameras to observe and record the behaviour of birds and bats at wind farm sites and there has been associated development of software designed to automatically categorise and count individuals. This method also requires some direct observation by expert zoologists to confidently identify which species are using a site.
Mark Venosta, one of our bat experts, has prepared a poster which further explains the Biosis bat roost exit counting method and results.
For further information please call Mark on 0428 539 534.