Squirrels and the Internet

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This week Nic and I spent time brainstorming and testing the thermal camera. We were able to see squirrels from approximately 15 meters away. Squirrels have a body temperature of about 36-38 degrees C and the arctic terns have a body temperature of just over 40 degrees C. The terns are a little bit smaller but being able to detect the squirrels is a great indication of what our success with the camera could look like. We are still trying to figure out the best way to test aerially. We could use water bottles with water, heated to the correct temperature. Right now however, we need to figure out if this is going to be the best technology to use, because the set-up might prove to be a little difficult. First we would need to mount the camera with Sugru (not very difficult).  However figuring out how to make the camera take the photo or live feed a stream might be difficult. It looks like right now our options are either to try and open the camera and wire something into it that could stream the feed (not sure if this is possible), or we can start looking at other technology. One option that Ben and I discussed early on in the year is Flir One Thermal Vision. However the website for the technology is very poor so finding information has proved difficult, however it is basically an attachment to a smartphone that displays thermal image.

Latitude and longitude for the the yellow point on the map below for the internet:



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Imaging from the Top of Campus

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We did lots more testing with the Fluke Thermal imaging camera. We tested various objects and different distances in the building, including down the Stanley hall which proved even more difficult (most likely because the lighting makes the hall warmer and we were just detecting our cell phones). From the roof of Dennis we played around with manual settings and tried detecting different things (mostly other people). It works well! The battery also lasted the whole time we were up there. Next we can look at something that is the same size and temperature as the birds we will be looking at. One idea is to microwave water in bottle to the temperature we want because that can be consistently replicated and we can know what the temperature should be. Another idea is to use the camera to look at some squirrels on campus which might be good for testing small, moving objects.

Oli emailed Charlie back with answers to our questions from earlier. The two species that we will be surveying are the Arctic Terns and the Eiders (waterfowl). I sent Bernard an email asking him if we should also put energy into surveying the Limosa limosa which is vulnerable to loss of breeding sites. In the email I sent I also asked if he thought there were any other species that might be worth surveying. The Eider is a larger duck-like bird that is fairly common in Iceland and used for down. Apparently they are all around Skalanes. I have read some papers on them, but I need some more information about where exactly in Skalanes. Are they near domesticated? Because if they are using human shelters or are in some other way larger affected by human activity, then a survey will be hard if we are trying to get an accurate survey on their natural breeding grounds.

A Higher Elevation

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In dealing with tScreen Shot 2015-10-10 at 10.52.53 AMhe issue of improving internet at Skalanes I did some research into the topography between the Skalanes lodge and the ferry station where the internet antenna is. I used google earth to draw a line from the ferry station to the lodge. It turns out that the are some mountains over 2,000ft in between which could be a large Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 3.08.31 PMobstacle in the implementation of a balloon. Although the signal ‘curves’ it still seems like it would be hard to make the internet here more reliable this way. The screenshot on the left shows the topographic 3D map from the ferry station, looking down the fiord towards Skalanes.

Next I looked for the telephone wire running to Skalanes which, I believe, is in the google earth image on the right.
A few more things about arctic terns:

average mass is 100g

105.63 F mean body temperature according to Body Temperatures of Antarctic Birds Carl R. Eklund (1942)

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Birds: Winged and Feathered Animals by Suzanne Slade and Kristin West

Thermal Camera and the Internet Issue

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We finally have our hands on the Fluke thermal imaging camera! It is very exciting because we can start to test out our theories and protocols to figure out something that will work.  I have read the manual which was semi helpful because I found that it measures infrared energy radiated based on two factors: the surface temperature of the object and the emissivity of the surface. This camera is not used normally for living things but it should work based on how it detects energy however focusing in on the small birds might be difficult in getting an exact temperature reading. After charging it up we turned it on and are definitely able to detect humans so the next step is to look at some squirrels and then bird of similar size and temperature to the birds we will be looking at.


The other issue I have started to work on is the internet problem at Skalanes. Basically I need to find the point at which a balloon would need to be elevated in order to be in direct line of sight of the ferry station. In order to do this I am going to first find the elevation of Skalanes, The antena at the ferry station and the mountains in between using the information we have, google earth and ArcGIS.

Skalanes Nesting Birds

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After receiving Bernard Lundie’s information, I was able to make headway in nesting birds. He sent me a complete document that lists the birds he know that have nested around Skalanes including waterfowl, grouse, waders and passerines. Eider (waterfowl) and Arctic Terns seemed to be most common in terms of nesting. There is an extensive list, so know narrowing down a specific research question involving the survey of nesting birds will be key, because there are so many species. Do we look just more extensively at nesting arctic terns or do we just survey nest totals in the area, disregarding species. I also spoke with Earlham’s ornithologist, Wendy Tori and she sent me several papers on arctic terns. We talked a little bit about methods but she has never done anything quite like this. The final challenge this week has been getting the thermo camera. Still an issue that might take some more time.

Testing and nesting?

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This week I started to look into what we have and what we need in more detail, as well as doing some more research. I tried out the Nikon range finder that the department has in different scenarios and from different distances. I also emailed the necessary person to check out the thermo camera that we have. I read some more papers as well on thermography in the natural sciences, especially in birds. Finally, I looked into different websites on Icelandic birds especially in Skalanes. The issue with this is that there is a lot of information on birds you can see in the area at different times of year, but not a whole lot of information on nesting birds, including which birds nest there and when they nest. The information must be somewhere but it will take a little more research. I looked into the Arctic Tern as well, which turns out to be a medium sized tern but hopefully that will not be an issue.


Information about arctic terns: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Arctic_Tern/lifehistory

How to Bird Survey

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My focus of this week has been on researching the best techniques for a bird nesting survey. Through many papers the way I think will work best with what we want to achieve is to use thermography to map nesting locations. This has been done in grassland birds as well as several others and there is likely enough literature to find the best and most successful techniques. The issue we are running into is what to use for the thermo-camera, because they are very expensive. We are not a large research institution so we will not be able to spend what they would. We also would need to especially test the cheaper options to see if they can actually detect relatively small birds. The other factor will be how to detect how far away the bird is and whether we will mount an aerial camera or from the ground. Looking into range finders will be key. Both options have major complications involved that we need to research further.

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