Monthly Archives: February 2015

ANNOUNCING! Saturday 7th March at Flamborough

Next instalments in the ‘Challenge Series’

 

Just like today’s goose flock at Flamborough- there will be added value ūüôā

4 taxa together on view today... Russian White- front, Pink-footed Goose, Greenland White-front and Greylag Goose.

4 taxa together on view today… Russian White- front, Pink-footed Goose, Greenland White-front and Greylag Goose.

 

………………Flamborough Bird Observatory present!fbo logo¬†

……………………A¬†evening¬†talk¬†by Martin Garner

What‚Äôs Next!…

…in Yorkshire, this spring and in the next Challenge Series books.

When: Saturday 7th March 2015, 7:00 pm prompt

Where: Flamborough Head Golf Course, Lighthouse Road, Flamborough, YO15 1AR.

 

Part of the Observatory’s AGM

The evening is as part of the Observatory’s AGM. Open to all from 4:30 pm

4:30 FBO AGM

6:00pm pm pre-booked supper

More info on¬†AGM and supper contact¬†Chrys Mellor. email: chrys.mellor’at’btinternet.com

 

 

Greenland and Russian White-fronted Geese

Inspired by Wild Geese!

Martin Garner and Brett Richards

A local double act. Our juices flowing a this rare opportunity to study- a few notes:

Two species, one Old World one new World. One OK, the other declining. Full of all the question about modern identification taxonomy, conservation and bird lore.

Two species, one Old World one new World. One OK, the other declining. Full of all the question about modern identification taxonomy, conservation and bird lore.

Adult Greenland White-front  a couple of weeks ago. Lots more HERE on flavirostris, albifrons and frontalis White-fronted Geese. (Vagrancy, Identification Taxonomy).

Brett then went a pulled a wonder with an adult Russian White-front¬†which had found and joined the Greenland. ¬†So much for all¬†that ‘carrier’ goose stuff. It can be about¬†right (giant monotypic¬†flock, one vagrant) and utter unreadable (lone birds do whatever, move around, change flocks/species etc- seen it again and again).

Headlines on Greenland Whitefronts.

First Record. Apparently the first Flamborough record. In 50 years at Spurn:  1 in 1972 and 3 in 2013 (per Tim Jones). So scarce/ rare on English East Coast away from Northumberland. Nationally rarity  (?) across North Sea in Netherlands.

Better as a Full Species. Ecological studies in 2002 suggest the Greenland birds should probably be considered a separate species from A. albifrons. Unusually long period of parental care and association, which may last several years and can include grandparenting, possibly uniquely among the Anseriformes.

BWP Editor’s note. In BWP, the Greenland White-fronted Goose was treated as a subspecies of the White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons. Since that time, a great deal of ecological and behavioural work has been undertaken on this distinctive taxon, and it was felt that flavirostris merited an account of its own. In the light of the emerging data that highlight its distinctive nature, it seems increasingly likely that the Greenland form will be recognized as a species in its own right. Consequently, it has been decided that a separate account of the Greenland White-fronted Goose should be published at this time. Although there is ongoing research into the other forms of A. albifrons, it is unlikely that an Update of the full species will be available in the near future.

Key Differences between Greenland and Russian birds (scroll down and see photos!)

A few not great but OK shots in tricky conditions:

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 03.34.04

Oily and dark Greenland on right. Large than the Russian, similar sized to other North American forms with more marsh/tuber feeding habits and grass gazers of the Old World.

W fronts both
WF 1

Blurry flight but shows the more Pink-footed Goose-like grey caste of the Russian on the left with broader white tail tip ‘flaring’¬†into¬†the dark. Smooth mocha Greenland¬†on right with crisp tail pattern.

Greenland wf MG 15th feb

The Greenlander. A Conservation concern, seemingly outcompeted by Canada Geese (interior) and declining.

Some video. Close -ups near end. but windy!

 

Greenland (flavirostris) above and Russian (albifrons) below. Check out their bits.

Greenland (flavirostris) above and Russian (albifrons) below. Check out their bits.

Greenland (flavirostris) LEFT and Russian (albifrons) RIGHT .

Greenland (flavirostris) LEFT and Russian (albifrons) RIGHT .

Greenland in LEFT, Russian on RIGHT.

Greenland in LEFT, Russian on RIGHT.

Greenland (flavirostris) showing  ore extensive black on underparts (into) vent) than any other white-front taxon.

Greenland (flavirostris) showing ore extensive black on underparts (into) vent) than any other white-front taxon.

Russian from below to compare

Russian from below to compare

Compare and Contrast. Key Differences in Appearance e.g. see in photos above (from excellent wikipedia article with corrections…).

The Greenland white-fronted goose, in all plumages, looks darker and more ‘oily-looking’ than the European white-fronted goose, both at rest and in flight.:

1) The mantle and scapulars of flavirostris have narrow, indistinct pale fringes creating a uniform appearance to the birds’ upperparts, whereas albifrons has noticeable whitish fringes creating obviously barred upperparts

2) The tertials of flavirostris have indistinct pale fringes, whereas these pale fringes are more noticeable on albifrons3) The lesser- and median-upperwing-coverts of flavirostris have narrow, indistinct pale fringes, creating a rather uniform appearance to the wing, whereas on albifrons, these fringes are prominent and broad, creating wing-bars

4) The greater-coverts of flavirostris are dark grey, with a narrow white tip, forming a narrow wing-bar; on albifrons they are blue-grey, with prominent white tips, forming a bold wing-bar
5) The flank-line is narrows and white on flavirostris, but broad and bright white on albifrons
6) The tail of flavirostris is dark brown, with a very narrow white tip and sides; that of albifrons is dark grey, and the white tip and sides are at least double the width of the corresponding areas on flavirostris
7) The bill of flavirostris is orange-yellow (with a dark nail in juvs), compared with the bright pink bill of albifrons (dark on the nail in juvs); in addition the bill of flavirostris is longer and appears slimmer than that of albifrons
8) The belly-barring on adult birds is on average more extensive on flavirostris than on albifrons, but the individual variation in both forms renders this of limited use as an identification feature.

The bill of adult Greenland white-fronts are also orange-yellow at the base, but can be more pinkish-yellow on the outer-half, thus close in colour to European white-fronts; the colour difference is more easily determined in dull, flat light rather than bright sunshine

World Digiscopers meeting part 2

By Justin Carr

Here is another assortment of Digiscoped images from my week in the sunshine state that is Florida.

Belted kinkfisher

Belted kingfisher

Osprey

Osprey

 

How many people have seen Ospreys in the UK like this.

American Herring Gull

American Herring Gull

Royal Tern

Royal Tern

Blue gray gnatcatcher

Blue gray gnatcatcher

White eyed Vireo

White eyed Vireo

Forsters Tern

Forsters Tern

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull

Laughing Gulls

Laughing Gulls

Just in case you were wondering how tame the Ospreys are its on top of the telegraph post.         End of part two.

all images taken on a Swarovski 80

Good Digiscoping.

Arctic Redpoll and Mealy Redpoll

Change the ID Culture

Martin Garner

red15

I am working on redpolls ID stuff, which is probably a bad idea to confess for host of reasons!

Here I want to have a look at more tricky Arctic Redpolls versus Mealy Redpolls.

It’s a classic conundrum.

I would argue we are starting, often on the wrong foot. Immediately.

Base line stuff:

The difference between many Arctic and Mealy Redpolls can be VERY subtle (more than is conveyed or believed?)

There are some overlapping characters (which is not the same as ‚Äėintermediate’ individuals)

Starting Differently. More Art than Science.

When you watch lots of redpolls I think it gets easier. Reason? The brain is a marvellous vivid computer. What starts by looking the same ‚Äėall gulls look the same‚Äô, after much exploring, study and watching of the nuances, subtleties, jizzy features, begin to come to the fore and the scary canvass of ‘look the same’ ¬†ades.

If you start with relax- take in overall jizz and try NOT to rush into one feature’s silver bullets’ that are supposed to nail it.  They don’t always work anyway.

Once you settle in then check the small features. Jizz first details seconds

Streaky

Most Arctic redpoll are streaky. Really. They are. Which is annoying as they are supposed to nice a plain and white in redpoll folk lore. It’s often subtly different kind of streaking, but they are often streaky, even some adult males. Streaky is OK

Example

So here’s an example for¬† fun- don‚Äôt‚Äô get bogged down. I watched this one for ages. Roughly using that process at the time I thought it was¬†an Arctic Redpoll. After churning it over, I still do. I have chosen this one as it’s about THE MOST streaky¬†Arctic type I could find. Still the process of jizz, feel and familiarity (watching lost and lots of redpolls, both Mealy and Arctic where most fell into one box or another- IN THAT CONTEXT– this bird looked like it was a member of the Arctic pack and not the Mealy pack. I can‚Äôt convey that in photos like these.

Have a look, see what you think. I have chosen he photos that make it look more Arctic-like- indeed as I remember it the field. I have other pics which if presented alone might never be claimed as an Arctic. Art before Science. Avoid silver bullets.

IMG_0168

Arctic onered14

red5

red 6 Yes I have a  thickish central undertail covert. You jealous?

Mealy Redpoll

 

To compare a couple of Mealy Redpolls in same area that I wold not quibble over:

Mealy Redpoll b

Mealy two

 

Arctic Redpolls in-the-hand

To compare. Here’s some trapped birds. These are all Arctic Redpolls a few day later, mid March 2013 in Varanger, Arctic Norway.

 

arctic redpoll 3arctic streakyArctic streaky onearctic red 4

 

So whats this one?

What would you do wit this based not he images and no art before science? No field watching?

Be warned- it’s a bit streaky too.

 

arctic in f 3arctic in f 1arctic in f 5

 

Easier but streaky

And this is the wrong starting point- males- mostly adults look more like this.  We will mis-identify most Arctic Redpolls rif the only acceptable birds look like the ones in the photos below. Some are adult males.

arctic male ad male arctic

 

and finally one of my all-time favourites. Not sen many like this one

Arctic Redpoll gets Punked

May 2012 with Tormod. This adult male with zero streaking, just grey and white and crazy triangulated head with pink flushed body. Could be an advert for some toiletry product.

Arctic Redpoll Skallelv TAmundsen Biotope

 

 

 

 

 

A Grand Day Out in Yorkshire

Twas!

Martin ST 1

Adult male Surf Scoter. Filey Brigg. Martin Standley. To see more of Martin’s awesome pics go to Martin’s East Yorkshire Wildlife Bog.

640RSPB & Biotope tour poster MGA thoroughly invigorating and¬†inspiring evening had already been had last night (Friday) at the Flamborurgh Golf Club. So let’s ¬†have a proper¬†ma√Īana day.

Last night’s gig went well:

After inspiring us at the¬†soir√©e, the RSPB’s Graham White (Chief Ecological Officer) and Tormod Amundsen (Biotope) came by this a.m. after hearty local ‘Big Breakfast’ and we headed to Water Lane. Bingo! The adult Greenland White-front was there and then flew ¬†off and then ¬†was there again. Which stimulated a nice local¬†twitch for several regulars who had not yet seen this first record for the Head.

Greenland wf MG 15th feb

The Adult Greenland White-frontРand a source of some fascinating and disturbing issues in the species breeding biology.  P.S. Why is this a subspecies?

Local Twitch!

Local Twitch!

 

A hugely useful couple of hours with Graham explore the inspired work of John Beaumont’s¬†team efforts at Thornwick as the new pool is raw and spring-action ready.

 

 

John Beaumont (Flamborough Bird Obs), Graham White (RSPB), Keith Clarkson (RSPB), Tormod Amundsen (Biotope) and Craig Thomas (FBO) planning and dreaming!

John Beaumont (Flamborough Bird Obs), Graham White (RSPB), Keith Clarkson (RSPB), Tormod Amundsen (Biotope) and Craig Thomas (FBO) planning and dreaming!

Back and home and a Patchtick in the garden- First Brambling¬†seen this year at Flamborough. Even when photo crap, if it’s a tick…

Brambler

 

Black-bellied Dipper

Post lunch ‘Smooth Phil’ called by and we headed over to to check out a taxon, unusually for me, which I have not encountered in¬†Britain before. A lovely performing Black-bellied Dipper. Slung low in darkish cover on dull afternoon. It nevertheless showed marvellously.

Black-bellied Dipper  at Kelk Beck, Harpham, East Yorks. Photo by  Brett R. who pinned it down and passed on the gen.

Black-bellied Dipper at Kelk Beck, Harpham, East Yorks. Photo by Brett R. who pinned it down and passed on the gen.

 

Surf Scoter

Finally up to Filey Brigg for the hottie of the day, a newly found adult Male Surf Scoter.

Martin Standley and I had been messaging to try and get him on the Greenland White-front. Rather glad he gave up and went and photographed the scoter! You can see why:

More at Martin’s site¬†East Yorkshire Wildlife Bog.

Surf+scoter+(1+of+10)ms ss

We didn’t go as close as Martin to the Surfer, viewing for the cliff top instead. Still amazes me where we have come and what we¬†can even video from such a range…

20150214_144347

Not the same but OK at de lonnnnnge range ūüôā

surfer digi MG one

Camera Trapping – a review

Dan Brown

With so many camera trap makes and models now available, advances in technology and (in general) a reduction in price, camera trapping has become a pastime for anyone and everyone to enjoy. Here I have a more detailed look at some of the makes and models on the market, features to look out for and how best to set your camera trap up.

A diurnal Badger tracks along an animal trail (www.biomeconsulting.com)

A diurnal Badger tracks along an animal trail (www.biomeconsulting.com)

Camera trapping can be phenomenally satisfying and a really enjoyable pastime. The buzz when you remove your SD card and flick through the images is something I will never tire of, as there is frequently a surprise waiting. Camera traps, or trail cameras as they are also known, have gone from expensive scientific kit to garden toy in a very short space of time. Increasingly they are being used for scientific and professional ecological monitoring but their affordability, durability and technological advancement have made them just as rewarding to use at home or on your local patch. In this article I will generally focus on the more affordable models rather that the higher priced scientific ones such as Reconyx.

Its not just mammals that can be cryptic. Using camera traps is a great way of confirming the presence of elusive birds such as Water Rails (www.biomeconsulting.com)

Its not just mammals that can be cryptic. Using camera traps is a great way of confirming the presence of elusive birds such as Water Rails (www.biomeconsulting.com)

Over the last couple of years, we have completed professional camera trapping projects to confirm (or not!) the presence of species such as Wildcat, Otters and Water Vole in Scotland (www.biomeconsulting.com); evaluated the success of various attractants for Eurasian Lynx, and general species monitoring, in Estonia (www.biomenature.com); assessed mammal communities in Norway, as well camera-trapping for fun here, there and everywhere. With around 12,000 trap nights under the belt in the last couple of years we’ve got a pretty good handle on what works, what doesn’t, and what you can do to maximize your chances of success.

A female Moose/Elk meanders through the deciduous woodlands of Estonia (www.biomeconsulting.com)

A female Moose/Elk meanders through the deciduous woodlands of Estonia (www.biomeconsulting.com)

In recent times I have started to wonder, and others have asked me on the extent of variation between models and which models are most effective. Whilst I can’t test them all, I have pulled together nine different camera traps to review. I have endeavored to cover a range of models from the cheapest I could find (£85) to one of the more expensive on the market (£399). Some models come in at more than £400 and I have excluded them here as they are unlikely to be the models of choice for the casual camera trapper; it is safe to assume that they are of a very high quality and are generally regarded as the elite models, primarily used for scientific monitoring.

Cameras set along a marsh-side animal trail

Cameras set along a marsh-side animal trail

Most camera¬†traps are fairly standard in design and output, though one that I trialed has an increased field of view¬†(150o ‚Äď Moultrie Pano and another model sends pictures straight to a mobile phone¬†(Minox DTC 1000), well that was the idea!. This review aims to highlight the pros and cons of each model and recommend (based on this trial, and past experience) the best trail cameras¬†for different scenarios, e.g. taking abroad, use in the garden, large-scale monitoring etc. It should be noted though that this is not a scientifically rigorous test and that higher specification models of certain brands tested may perform better than the ones trialed.

It is also worth remembering that the images you produce are unlikely to win¬†the BBC Wildlife Camera-trap photo of the year competition¬†as most (but not all) of the winning¬†images use adapted DSLR cameras¬†with external flash guns. Similarly stunning ‚Äėcamera¬†trap‚Äô footage from programmes¬†such Gordon Buchanan‚Äôs ‚ÄėSnow Wolf Family & Me‚Äô uses adapted GoPro cameras.

A quick glossary of terminology

Passive Infrared (PIR): This is the mechanism by which most cameras detect an animal and trigger an image capture. The sensors on the front of the camera detect a difference in temperature between the subject and its surroundings and trigger a picture to be taken. This works best when there is greatest contrast between the animal and its environment, e.g. when the air is colder. The sensitivity of this sensor can be adjusted so during the summer you may wish to increase the sensitivity, the same for detecting smaller mammals, and also aquatic species such as Otter which are often cooler on the exterior due to better insulation, than other animals of a similar size.

Spotting your triggers can be difficult. Here Chaffinches can be seen feeding amongst the leaf litter. A high PIR setting is generally required for smaller animals

Spotting your triggers can be difficult. Here Chaffinches can be seen feeding amongst the leaf litter. A high PIR setting is generally required for smaller animals

Night Vision Shutter (NV): This controls the speed of the shutter during night triggers. A high shutter speed will increase the clarity of the image, reducing blur through movement, but will also reduce the range of detection. Conversely, a low shutter speed increases the range of detection but also increases the likelihood of the image being blurred.

Field of View: The area captured in the image, usually 35-45o

Detection Zone: The area in which the camera is able to detect the heat signature and motion of the animal.

False Positive: An image triggered seemingly by nothing. These can be very frequent and are often caused by vegetation movement.

False Negative: When a trigger does not occur despite the presence of an animal in the trigger zone. This can be very frustrating! (See the album on BiOME Consulting Facebook page)

The Genet - a rarely seen, but widespread species in North Africa and Iberia. Camera traps make monitoring species like this considerably easier.

The Genet – a rarely seen, but widespread species in North Africa and Iberia. Camera traps make monitoring species like this considerably easier.

What to consider when buying

The following should be your key considerations when purchasing a camera trap:

  • Cost
  • Weight and size of camera.
  • Trigger speed (how long it takes to trigger an image being taken).
  • Image size and quality.
  • Battery type/battery life.
  • Ease of set up.
  • Durability
  • What will I use the camera¬†for (e.g. garden, open ground, monitoring)?
  • On-camera¬†review of images
  • Security¬†‚Äď can I leave my camera¬†safely?

Many of these features will vary in their importance to you depending upon how the camera is to be used. For instance if you are undertaking large-scale monitoring for nocturnal species you are likely to require a camera that takes good quality images with as short a trigger speed as possible, that will run for months, and resist all that the weather can throw at it. If you goal is to capture the garden fox then something much less high spec will be sufficient.

Birds and camera trapping

We tend to think of camera trapping as the realm of the mammologist/mammal enthusiasts; however it can be equally well suited to the monitoring of birds. I have often wondered about positioning camera traps along scrape or ditch edges to get an idea of all the waders and crakes we are missing, and I have previously targeted cairns on Scottish peaks with some interesting results. Angling a camera at a prominent perch or a carcass can also generate some fascinating pictures; the list of possibilities is almost endless and limited only by your imagination.

Camera traps can be used very successfully to monitor birds as well as mammals (www.biomeconsulting.com)

Camera traps can be used very successfully to monitor birds as well as mammals (www.biomeconsulting.com)

A crane family take a short-cut through a woodland in Estonia - not what we were expecting from this camera trap! (www.biomeconsulting.com)

A crane family take a short-cut through a woodland in Estonia Рnot what we were expecting from this camera trap! (www.biomeconsulting.com)

The RSPB, among other conservation bodies, have adopted camera¬†traps as a means of passive monitoring for species such as Hen Harrier and Curlew. It‚Äôs worth remembering though that you can‚Äôt just place a camera¬†trap in front of a nest without the correct licenses! The possible increased risk of predation is also a consideration in such scenarios ‚Äď it‚Äôs definitely worth leaving such projects to professionals. Studies in relation to the predation of ground nesting birds are, however, ongoing and will no doubt yield valuable results in the future that will be used to target¬†conservation efforts for threatened species.

Choosing a location

The best location depends on what you‚Äôre trying to photograph, but remains the single most important factor in camera¬†trapping. For mammals, placing a camera¬†trap on an obvious trail is a good starting¬†point. Ideally the camera¬†should be about 2-3 feet above the ground and facing along the trail rather than across it. This increases the likelihood of a trigger and the duration of any video of the subject. But, it is important to be mindful of false triggers as a result of vegetation movement when placing a camera¬†trap at low level ‚Äď a pair of shears and some careful gardening is often required to minimise the amount of time you have to trawl through subject-less photos. Fence lines often funnel animals along them, as do forest rides. For species such as Otter or Water Shrew, identifying a well used rock or riverside feature is the best starting point. Prominent trunks crossing paths can act as scent-marking spots and are worth focusing on. Holes and crevices always attract attention, even if they are seemingly unoccupied by a specific species and these can generate plenty of interesting videos and pictures, often of multiple species.

An ideal spot for a camera looking along a woodland ride (www.biomeconsulting.com)

An ideal spot for a camera looking along a woodland ride (www.biomeconsulting.com)

A diurnal Otter comes in for a closer look. This camera also confirmed the presence of Water Voles and breeding Teal, all in the space of a week!

A diurnal Otter comes in for a closer look. This camera also confirmed the presence of Water Voles and breeding Teal, all in the space of a week!

Whilst most cameras come with the option of being able to padlock them shut, it is still worth bearing the security of your camera in mind. Placing it in a public place without securing it thoroughly is likely to see it vanish.

It probably goes without saying, but you also must have agreed access with the landowner to the location you are placing your camera traps.

Choosing the correct location can produce some very satisfying pictures, and its not just mammals!

Choosing the correct location can produce some very satisfying pictures, and its not just mammals!

Affixing your camera

All cameras come with a strap for attaching them to a suitable structure. Personally we have found that using strong garden wire is as good and usually a better option, as it doesn’t loosen. In many cases it is often possible to affix the camera to an existing feature e.g. a fence post or tree, however if you have the time then manufacturing some simple, small stakes is often beneficial and overcomes the frequent problem of having a great camera location but nothing to anchor it to. If you are positioning your camera along a stream, river or ditch edge remember to bear in mind fluctuating water levels, these cameras are weather-proof but don’t fare too well when submerged!

As well as the importance of recognising significant features that may funnel animals or birds past the camera, you also need to bear in mind other factors that impact on the images.

Another great location where animal movement is funnelled by surrounding landforms (www.biomeconsulting.com)

Another great location where animal movement is funnelled by surrounding landforms (www.biomeconsulting.com)

Trigger settings and angling your camera

In general it is best to angle the camera slightly downwards towards the ground rather than up. This avoids any unnecessary triggers from overhead vegetation or branches. It is also worth trying to avoid directing it towards either a rising or setting sun/moon, both of which can trigger the camera.

This is exactly how not to angle a camera trap - slightly up and into the rising sun: cue steamed up lenses and repeated false positive triggers.

This is exactly how not to angle a camera trap Рslightly up and into the rising sun: cue steamed up lenses and repeated false positive triggers.

Of course angling it the right way can produce some surprises: this flock of Waxwings alighted for 5 seconds on a cairn on one of the Scottish peaks two winters ago.

Of course angling it the right way can produce some surprises: this flock of Waxwings alighted for 5 seconds on a cairn on one of the Scottish peaks two winters ago.

Vegetation movement can cause huge numbers of false positives which are very frustrating to work through, especially after months in the field. Depending on the location of your camera you may wish to adjust the sensitivity of the camera trigger mechanism. A camera trained at a grassy field of view may be excessively triggered by grass movement, in these cases it is worth reducing the sensitivity to low. The best locations are generally the understory of woodland where there is minimal vegetation and shelter from wind movement, as well as along open ditch edges, upland knolls and sand dunes. In these locations you may wish to have the sensitivity on high.

If you are after small mammals then the trigger settings should always be set to high, reduce the height that the camera is set at, and if possible add on a macro lens.

Adjusting the PIR sensitivity allows better detection of small mammals. Here a Shrew puts in an appearance (www.biomeconsulting.com)

Adjusting the PIR sensitivity allows better detection of small mammals. Here a Shrew puts in an appearance (www.biomeconsulting.com)

Baiting

Baiting can massively increase the success of camera trapping either by using an existing foods source e.g. grain spillage or carcass, or by placing your own bait down. Cat or dog food is ideal for carnivores, anchovies or sardines can attract in Otters and Water Shrews, and grain and peanuts will draw in small mammals as well as birds.

The trial

Over Christmas/New Year I tested the nine models in three scenarios; at the base of a Red Squirrel feeding hopper at Treborth Botanic Garden, Gwynedd; on a marsh edge trail at RSPB Malltraeth, Anglesey; and in a copse on the outskirts of Derby. Many thanks to Red Squirrel Survival Trust and the RSPB for allowing me to trap at these locations.

The target of the first test site, mainland Welsh Red Squirrels!

The target of the first test site, mainland Welsh Red Squirrels!

The aim was to see how they coped with multiple triggers in different scenarios, and hopefully, in both night and day. This is by no means an exhaustive review with plenty of additional tests and scenarios possible, and there are many more models available.

For the trials at Treborth and Derby, all nine cameras were lined up immediately adjacent to each other. Whilst there will have been a subtle difference in each ones field of view and detection range, they were effectively focused on the same central point. At Malltraeth the cameras were split along the same animal trail with four facing in one direction and the remaining five further along the trail facing back towards the first four.

All nine cameras lined up and ready to trigger. The ground in front of them was baited and it was hoped the stream would also funnel birds and animals along it.

All nine cameras lined up and ready to trigger. The ground in front of them was baited and it was hoped the stream would also funnel birds and animals along it.

The trial models

I’ve summarised the specifications of each of the model included in the trial in the below table. This is followed, in ascending cost order, with my thoughts on the pros and cons of each, and is concluded with my overall opinion on what to buy. Other makes not included here but maybe worthy of consideration include Cuddeback, Scoutguard, Uway, and Reconyx.

The trial models (Top row L-R) Hawke ProStalk PC4000, Acorn Ltl 5210, Bresser Visiomar; (middle row L-R), Acorn Ltl 6210, Minox DTC 650, Bushnell Natureview HD; (bottom row L-R), Minox DTC1000, Spypoint HD7 & Moultrie Pano 150

The trial models (Top row L-R) Hawke ProStalk PC4000, Acorn Ltl 5210, Bresser Visiomar; (middle row L-R), Acorn Ltl 6210, Minox DTC 650, Bushnell Natureview HD; (bottom row L-R), Minox DTC1000, Spypoint HD7 & Moultrie Pano 150

Table: Comparative specifications of each of the trial models

Model Cost (£) Weight (inc batteries) Size (S/M/L) Ease of setup Max image size Trigger speed (s) Max vid size Field of view Range of IR (ft) Batteries Case seal
Bresser visiomar game camera 85.23 240g S M 6mp ? (1)? 720p 52 40 4AA Moderate
Acorn Ltl 5210 95.69 300g S M 12mp 1.2 640×480 35 65 4/8AA Good
Acorn Ltl 6210 129.80 350g S M 12mp 1.1 640x4801440x1080 35 65 4/8AA Good
Pro Stalk PC400 129.95 300g S M 5mp 0.9 640×480 60 33 4AA Good
Minox DTC 650 199.00 365g M VE 8mp <0.5 1080p 50 (?) 49 12AA Strong
Bushnel Natureview HD max (119439) 269.00 610g M E 8mp 0.6 1920×1080 55 60 4/12AA Good
SpyPoint HD7 165.16 580g M/L E 7mp 1.0 720p 30 50 6AA Moderate
Moultrie Pano 150 189.00 1130g L E/M 8mp 0.9 1280×720 150 40 6C Good
Minox DTC 1000 399.00 700g M E/D 8mp 1.0 1080p 50 (?) 50 12AA Strong

Summary of each model

Bresser Visiomar

Pros: Small. Cheap. Moderately easy setup. Good value for money.

Cons: Poor detection rates at night

A dinky, cheap and fairly inconspicuous camera and despite only running on 4AA batteries we have shown that they persist for a relatively long time (>6months). The detection rates seem good with the initial tests matching the higher powered models however the Bresser fell down at night with virtually no triggers indicating that the sensor isn’t quite as good as it could be. The set is up is through a remote on which you can also replay any images. A word of warning, I bought mine on Amazon and it arrived from the EU with only German instructions!

Acorn Ltl-5210A & Acorn Ltl-6210MC

Pros: Small. Cheap. Easy setup. Excellent image quality

Cons: Not as sensitive as the higher spec models or indeed the Bresser, the 5210 was significantly less sensitive than the 6210.

These two neat and small cameras run on 8AA batteries with easy setup and reply. Surprisingly good image quality and well balanced exposure. A great little model for garden use but I would recommend the 6210 over the 5210.

Hawke ProStalk PC 4000

Pros: Cheap and small

Cons: Very poor image quality and detection rates. No replay facility.

A small camera, taking 4AA batteries and easy/moderate setup. Despite a user error of my part during the first trial, the camera proved to be very poor at detecting animals. Generally a disappointment.

Spy Point HD 7

Pros: Moderate detection abilities, easy setup and handy setup instructions on inside of backing case

Cons: large, poor clip mechanism for shutting the case

Large but only takes 6 AA batteries. The setup is an alternative approach to most of the cameras but very easy. The output is fairly middle of the road; it’s not the worst, and its by no means the best. Detection rates appeared average.

Minox DTC 650

Pros: easy setup, excellent trigger speed and detection rates, high image quality, prolonged battery life, replay facility

Cons: large

This is a brilliant camera. On top of the list of pros above it matched the Bushnell in terms of its detection rates, in fact actually recording more triggers than the Bushnell in total though the two are on a very even par. Given the cost, ease of set up and performance this camera has a lot going for it.

Bushnell HD Natureview 119439

Pros: easy setup, excellent trigger speed and detection rates, prolonged battery life.

Cons: large, Images frequently under-exposed, no replay facility on this model (but there is on other similar ones)

An excellent larger camera and long been used by scientists and amateurs alike. Whilst the detection range and ability is excellent, the image was frequently under-exposed making analysing pictures very difficult. This combined with a higher price tag bought the overall rating of the camera down

Moultrie 150 Pano

Pros: A fantastically large detection zone (150o), which undoubtedly picks up animals other cameras wouldn’t, large flash range.

Cons: Very large and heavy and seemed to get moisture on the lens more than other cameras. Uses C batteries.

Despite advertising the silent movement of the sensor as it pans between the three 50o detection areas I could still hear it and it was obvious from images triggered on other cameras that animals could also hear it. That said the detection range is huge. The camera runs on 6C batteries which combined with its size makes it a hefty piece of kit. The setup was moderately easy

This Rabbit was only detected by three cameras including the Moultrie  despite crossing the detection zone of all the cameras. Did it move too quickly? The image produced by the Moultrie shows its massive detection sweep.

This Rabbit was only detected by three cameras including the Moultrie despite crossing the detection zone of all the cameras. Did it move too quickly? The image produced by the Moultrie shows its massive detection sweep.

Minox 1000

Pros: Similar in spec to the DTC 650, which see.

Cons: Expensive, and the photo/video replay to PCs and mobiles didn’t work for me as is not Mac compatible, slower trigger speed than DTC650

Seems to be more of a fancy gimmick with not much practical application unless you want to know what’s visiting your garden there and then whilst you recline watching X-factor. Other manufacturers also offer pictures/videos straight to your phone or computer. The camera itself is very good though the trigger speed is slower than the DTC650. Given the choice I would be going for the 650.

Overall verdict

Calculating value for money is difficult and arbitrary, and very much depends on what you intend to use it for. For the benefit of the review I have named my personal top models and reasons below:

Overall top model: Minox DTC 650 (also best higher spec model)

Best cheap model: Acorn Ltl 6210 or for even cheaper garden use the Acorn Ltl 5210

Best travel model Acorn Ltl 6210

For monitoring the Reconyx (not tested here) are by far the best, but the Minox DTC 650 or the Bushnell HD Natureview would both be suitable.

If you want anymore information, or help with monitoring and training, then please get in touch with us at Biome Consulting.

Happy Camera trapping!