Friday, 4 April 2014

The Eastern Screech Owl nesting project

The purpose of this PixController project is to study the Eastern Screech Owl during the winter roosting and spring nesting periods. The winter roosting period is typically between October to March, and the nesting period from March to June. During the fall of 2011 PixController discovered an Eastern Screech owl roosting in one of the nest boxes they had put up. They quickly installed a webcam into the box to watch the owl. On advice from local screech owl expert: Dick Byers, they installed several more owl boxes in the same area and started a study to monitor their behavior. Although screech owls are fairly common little is known about their behavior since they are nocturnal.

During the first year of monitoring the owl boxes there was a red phase owl using the boxes which was named Hunter. In 2013 PixController expanded the study to include six owl boxes in a dry wetland area which was called: "study area 1". Study area 1 has owl boxes #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6. Three further owl boxes were installed in an over grown farmland field which is called: study area 2, owl boxes: #7, #8, and #9. In study area 1 there is also an external pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera which we can remotely control and view all five cameras for an outside view. Study area 1 and study area 2 are about 300 yards apart.

The owl boxes in study area 1 are currently being used by a mature gray phase eastern screen owl named "Allie" and a red phase eastern screech owl in study area 2 which was named "Dakota". At this point we do not know if these owls are male or female. The ultimate goal of this project is to have one of the owl boxes used for a nest in the spring 2014 mating season.

The screech owls will use the boxes during the day to roost and leave at night to go hunting. We will try and use the external PTZ camera to locate the owl at night hunting if in the range of the owl boxes. During the day we will position the PTZ camera on the box the owl is roosting in. When the owl roosts in the morning it will sit at the opening of the owl box for 1/2 to 1 hour before going in to roost for the day. Before the owl leaves the owl box at night it will sit at the opening for 1/2 to 1 hour before leaving. The PTZ camera will give you an outside view of the owl during these times.

Each owl box camera is set up to detect motion and capture photos when triggered. These photos can be viewed in the PixController Archives Section. We also record box activity such as which boxes are roosted in, box activity, and weather data in an Excel spreadsheet. We believe this is the first time a study such as this has been done for screech owls. For more information on the camera system click here: Camera Information.

This project is fully funded by PixController Inc. and by donations from our viewers for educational purposes. If you would like to know more about the project or become involved for educational purposes please Contact PixController. They would love to hear from you!

A major part of the success of this project belongs to Dick Byers of Stahlstown, PA. Dick's intimate knowledge of the screech owls has helped attract the birds and keep them in the study area.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

New underwater cam off Grand Cayman

WE are super privileged to have the Teens 4 Oceans (T4O) and View Into The Blue’s (VITB) underwater Grand Cayman cam on our platform. You can visit the cam directly here:

The Grand Cayman East End cam is deployed at the East End of Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean. It is situated just inside the fringe reef, 952 meters from the dock at Ocean Frontiers Dive Resort. The webcam is solar powered and the video stream is a wireless link from a floating platform. The instrument is a HD54-PTZ-cs2 self-cleaning camera with CleanSweep™. Tours of the reef are scheduled every ten minutes. and the video stream is used for a number of different educational and research purposes. Please visit Teens4Oceans for more information.

During T4O’s most recent trip to the East End in February 2014, students had the opportunity to witness and learn about the research of two scientists who joined us for our stay on the island. Dr. Yannis Papastamatiou of the University of St. Andrews shared his stories and videos of his deep wall survey for a future study of deep water coral reef ecosystems (specifically mesophotic coral ecosystems, or MCEs, as he described in this blog post). Students also had the opportunity to learn about the patented Biorock technology developed by Dr. Tom Goreau of the Global Coral Reef Allicance directly from Dr. Goreau himself. A prototype Biorock dome structure was placed near the Cayman Cam and can be viewed on the camera’s 360-degree tour of the reef. Read more about the plans for this project in this related blog post.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Chat with Annette Devinney about Pittsburgh Hays eagles

Pittsburgh Hays eagle fan, amateur photographer and long-term nest observer, Annette Devinney, agreed to answer questions from eagle watchers in the cam chat room.

So much information. You can read the entire transcript here … it's 26 pages long!

Here is some of what Annette had to say ...

Annette Devinney:

I am an eagle enthusiast and amateur photographer and have spent hundreds of hours observing the eagles in Hays.

The interest in Pittsburgh and the Hays eagles is overwhelming. Because it's in such a metro area and we haven't had eagles for decades. The eaglet born last year was the first in 200 years.

Don't know how many eggs last year because no webcam to record. But only one eaglet.

The nest

The nest is about 40 yards from the ground but it's on a hillside, so about 200 ft from the trail.

Viewing from the ground ... you are far enough away from the nest that there aren't many rules, just etiquette. No loud noise. However they live above a train track so they are used to noise.

I’m amazed that they rebuilt in the same area as last season with all the noise and commotion!

The eagles

Photos of the bald eagles on the Western Pennsylvania eagles Facebook Page. Some on Flickr as well ...

These eagles never left the area since last January when they arrived.

I saw a raccoon messing with the nest in October when no one was in it.

I believe the eagles are about 5-6 years old.

They can live up to 30 years but average is less unless in captivity.

Daddy is smaller than Mama and has a little white spot on his right hip.

They began building about 15th September 2013. So several months and they will add on each year.

I have seen red-tails, turkey vultures etc. No match for an adult but a baby can be a target. They watch pretty closely.

Then she does something called mantling. Wraps her wings around the fish and makes a lot of noise. Letting everyone know that it's her fish and back off!

Have heard that they will take a small kitten or puppy in a yard. So bring them in if you live in Hays. lol

Eggs Hatching

Hatches are expected to be Wednesday 26th March, Sunday 30th March, and Wednesday the 2nd of April.

Mama and Papa will be nearby when they hatch. She may help baby out.

I know the parents can hear tapping in the egg prior to it hatching because it becomes thinner.

Baby will stay until she learns to fly and hunt on her own. Usually 3 months or so.

No one including the game commission will intervene unless the baby is left alone by a parent dying etc. They are wild animals and should stay that way.

We think juvie has left but don't know for sure. We really don't even know if she survived.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Kwa Maritane to join WildEarth

WildEarth is happy to announce the addition of another great waterhole camera to our site. 

The waterhole in front of the Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge is an old friend of many long-term cam viewers as it has been broadcasting since as far back as 1999. So, when Graham headed out to install the new camera, it was not his first one as he had also installed the original one back in the day!

Kwa Maritane is located in the Pilanesberg National Park just a few hours drive from Johannesburg. It's name means 'place of the rock' after a large, rocky hill that overlooks this waterhole. The waterhole also features an underground hide which is accessible via a 200 meter tunnel so guests can get to and from there safely and without disturbing the wildlife.

The new camera is streaming video to both the Internet and the guests' rooms in the hotel and will be controlled by our trusty band of zoomies. As this camera is of a different type than others they operate, they will get a couple of days to practise their hand at it and we will make the camera public on Saturday afternoon.

Until then, check out Kwa Maritane's website and Facebook page.

We are looking forward to many great sightings at this beautiful location!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

WE and Ingwe Leopard Research team up to help the African leopard

Many of you will no doubt remember Tara Pirie, one of the ponytail gang of LIVE safari presenters.

She is currently doing leopard research for her PhD at Thaba Tholo in conjunction with Ingwe Leopard Research, a project Will Fox is also closely involved with. (For more info click here.) Of course we have all stayed in touch since the LIVE safaris ended. From various fireside and other chats an idea has grown about how WildEarth's experience with LIVE content broadcasting can be used to help research projects such as Tara is doing.

From those discussions the concept of bringing together our viewers, and other conservation-minded people, with research projects by creating a LIVE platform for camera traps was developed. In a nutshell the concept is to have camera traps send pictures to the WildEarth platform the minute they are taken, and to involve our audience in the evaluating of these images and in the identifying of the animal species in them. Even which individual it shows in the case of leopards! We know this is something many of you enjoy and are doing already, so why not expand on this to actually help the researchers? As, beyond it being a lot of fun to do, it will create awareness for the research projects as well as save the researchers lots of time they can then spend on other aspects of their projects.

To get this off the ground WildEarth will have to build desktop as well as mobile apps that will allow you and others to be notified of new images and to allow you to ID them anywhere and anytime. At the same time Tara and Ingwe Leopard Research need more camera traps to expand their research area. Therefore WildEarth and Ingwe Leopard Research have decided to team up to make this happen with Thaba Tholo being the first location where the new system will be rolled out.

Getting 20 additional camera traps and building the LIVE camera trapping platform does require quite a bit of cash though and in order to raise the required funds for this we have created a crowd funding project. If successful, this project, which will run until the end of December, will allow Tara to deploy 20 new camera traps that are equipped with the new LIVE system, and WildEarth to build the various apps needed for you to be able help the project by identifying animals in the pictures taken by those camera traps.

A lot more detail and a great video about this can be found on the IndieGogo project page, so please check this out and see if you can make a contribution towards helping us help the leopard. Either by contributing financially and/or by sharing the information wide and far with others who might be.