14 Sep 2017 Thermal imaging survey for ecology: Nightjar and Daubenton’s bats
BSG Ecology is leading the way in the effective use of thermal imagery as an essential tool in the delivery of a complete ecological consultancy service. We own several high-specification TI cameras and our staff are professionally trained in their use. This includes complex post-processing of radiometric data which reveals more meaningful information than simple visual interpretation.
Over the past few years we have applied the technology to questions arising on a wide variety of projects. Our studies have looked at how golden plover use fields at night in relation to operational wind farms, the behaviour of Bechstein’s bats in relation to gaps in hedgerows along commuting routes, obtaining accurate counts of various bat species emerging from roosts, and locating bat roosts in railway tunnels that were difficult and time consuming to survey using conventional means.
Two particularly interesting studies in 2017 that have benefited from our use of thermal imaging technology are outlined below, along with video footage obtained using the cameras during the work.
Roosting and Foraging Bats, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
This study involved obtaining accurate counts of Daubenton’s bats emerging from a (bridge) roost on a large freshwater lake at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. The survey was undertaken from an electrically-powered boat, and was completed to help determine the precise location of the roost / roosts, the numbers of bats present, and to understand how renovation works to the bridge and associated changes in water levels on the lake would be likely to impact on the species.
Following the emergence work, we then recorded footage of bats foraging over the lake. This revealed that three species of pipistrelle were present, as well as the Daubenton’s bats, and further informed the assessment of the likely impacts of the work and the mitigation strategy proposed.[/vc_column_text]
Nightjar Foraging Behaviour, Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales
In this study we investigated whether nightjar breeding in coniferous plantation and heathland habitats close to a wind farm development site were using pasture land within it for foraging. This work aimed to investigate whether nightjar were at risk of collision with turbine blades.
A series of nocturnal vantage point surveys were completed using a thermal imaging camera. These showed that nightjar made use of the site during warm, settled weather, making foraging flights across the pasture. All flights were within a few metres of ground level, as the footage demonstrates. This is a good example of thermal imaging footage significantly informing the evidence base and providing confidence in the assessment of impact.