Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Batteries

As most of you have seen WE have been having major problems with our batteries once again. This seems to happen every few months and it is a complete frustration in our lives as I am sure that it is for you as well. In order to get the video signal from the game drive vehicle back to the Final Control WE encode the video then modulate that data and finally amplify and transmit that modulated signal. This requires three large energy intensive systems that all run on 220 volt AC current, which is supplied by an inverter. The inverter is powered by batteries which are twice as big as a car battery. The video/audio transmission equipment on the game drive vehicle is very power hungry and so WE use 8 of these batteries mounted behind the ranger's seat.

This whole battery problem is caused by a relatively difficult issue to resolve, and that is the fact that WE destroy our batteries because we over discharge them and, we don't charge them enough before we use them again, which reduces their capacity fast. This is a known problem which is hard to fix because our schedule is what it is and the gaps of time between drives are too short.

This basically means that every few months WE have to replace a whole set of batteries which is expensive. However, Peter Braat is working on a method of charging which will hopefully keep the next set for a year without them being destroyed.

WE have bought a new set and will be picking them up from Nelspruit in the next few days. Then WE will be back to proper three hour drives and night drives as well. Thank you for being so patient and understanding about this problem and rest assured in the knowledge that WE are doing everything within our power to get back to normal as soon as possible.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The WE family.


WEll done to Valorie Berry for putting together this amazing video. It is a real tear jerker, I had goose bumps from the word go. Also a big thanks to all of our wonderful viewers for helping with this. It means so much to us and is a beautiful piece of video showing WildEarth as one big family.  This will go down in history in our archives. Once again thanks for all of your support and love of animals - it truly is in your nature!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

WElcome to Whoo.





Last week Marc rescued an small scops owl and named it Whoo. Whoo has become a very WElcomed new member of our team and WE are happy that Marc is now raising it. Marc is not sure whether it is male or female but he reckons that it is about 2 weeks old based on the appearance of its 'ears' which reportedly appear at 12 days. Its ears, as can be seen in the photo have been there for 2 days or so. Marc expects that it will be fully fledged at 3 and a 1/2 to 4 weeks. With the help of Jess and Lara, he is collecting any arthropods that he can find; beetles, winged termites, moths and crickets. The last few days have been cold and wet and there has been a dearth of insects, so he has been giving it some beef mince or beef pieces depending on what is being cooked. He needs to feed it some vertebrates like lizards or geckos but he says that that is very hard for him to do.

Marc does know what age he will keep it until, it may fly when it is fledged and disappear or it may stick around if it has imprinted on Marc. This is a very unpredictable part of the equation. He keeps it in a small box which is about 20 x 25 x 20cm and lined with some kapok like nesting material. It doesn't resemble a nest of the species but resembles the dark hole of a natural nest in a hole in a tree. As Marc is not an adult owl with the ability to teach it of the dangers, it is going to be vulnerable to other predators, both avian ( raptors) mammal ( genets, wildcat, monkeys, baboons ) and reptiles (snakes and maybe white throated monitors).

It poses no danger to Marc or anyone when it gets older. It is almost full size already and its small size means that Marc does not even have to wear a glove when handling it as the talons are not that strong.

Ultimately Marc would like it to function like a wild Scops Owl and still be able to come to him but that is pure fantasy at this stage. At best he hopes that it returns to the wild and forgets about humans and finds a mate and goes on as a wild owl. They are a monogamous species and although quite numerous, they are very special little birds and Marc has certainly lost his heart to this one.


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

News from Pix Controller




Pix Controller have several interesting items to report this week:
There is a flock of turkey that seem to be coming into the main camera almost every day now. They have a flock of hens (female birds) that is about 10 birds total. Within this flock is a hen with a beard. This is very unusual since only the male birds have beards. The “beard” of a turkey hangs down from the middle of the turkey’s chest and looks like a horse tail. Scientists call the “hairs” of the beard “bristles” or “mesofiloplumes” (“MEZ-uh-FILL-uh-ploomz”) — stiff, feather-like structures.

They were able to capture some pretty good footage of the hen with the beard. She's been seen since last year but they didn't have the PTZ camera or the broadcasts provided by WildEarth to record the activity like they can now. (see attached photo)
Related Hotspot:
Bearded Hen

The White Tailed Deer remote motion-activated scrape camera has seen some action. They have broadcast several younger bucks working the scrap site over and we have one great recorded hotspot of a very mature 8-point whitetail buck following a doe in the early morning hours. Hopefully they will continue to see action on this remote camera as the mating season winds down at the end of this month.
Related Hotspots:
Buck on scrape camera

Button buck works over scrape

Doe looking at scrape

Big 8-point buck following doe

They now have their remote motion-activated carcass camera up and running. They get deer carcasses from their local game commission. These are road killed deer and they put them to good use. They started this camera last year and it was very successful at bringing in predators such as fox and coyotes, and of course many raccoons. They also had a lot of action during the day from hawks and turkey vultures. They plan to run the remote carcass camera site until spring time when it starts warming up again.
Related Hotspots:

Raccoons on carcass camera

Red Fox on carcass camera

Opossum on carcass camera

Friday, 13 November 2009

New Cams on Wildearth

David Hancock and the Hancock Wildlife Foundation Eagle Cams.
David Hancock from the Hancock Wildlife Foundation is streaming two new cameras onto WE and there are more to come. David is eagle man and true to style these are both eagle related. The first is called Chehalis Platform Cam. This is a camera that has been placed on a platform on the Chehalis Flats.
Eagle Point camera tower - Chehalis River Estuary
The Chehalis Flats are at the end of the Chehalis River that comes from the northwest in British Columbia. This river and the Harrison River contain some of the richest salmon spawning shallows in the world. All five salmon thrive here along with steelhead and rainbow trout. Spawning season is happening right now and thousands of salmon carcasses are being washed down the river system to feed the eagles. David Hancock has set up platforms along the estuary to allow you to watch the eagles and other wildlife feeding on the spawning salmon. In the past more than 1000 eagles have been seen in this area on a single day so these cameras promise to be phenomenal.

In addition to the estuary cameras, they have an underwater camera (seen as Chehalis trout cam on WildEarth) in the spawning channel at the entrance to the Chehalis fish hatchery. This gives spectacular live views of these fish under the water.

During the Eagle Festival (November 20th,21st) David will hopefully be featuring some video taken by hand-held cameras in and around the Tapedira area to the West of the Estuary. Included in these they are hoping to have interviews with and commentaries by local naturalists and conservationists.
To find out more about this project and more go to www.hancockwildlife.org
David continues to broadcast from OWL cam one and two and Sidney cam one and two. Both of these have been incredible and WE were very honoured to get them on our site at the beginning of this year. Recently eagles have been seen at the nests again preparing for the next season, so watch this space.

Doug Carrick's Hornby Island Eagle Cam


Doug Carrick’s Hornby Island Eagle Cam is back for the 2009-2010 season. This very special pair of bald eagles are already back in the nest and yesterday they were seen moving sticks and twigs around to make the nest habitable again. The nest was discovered in 2006 and has been broadcasting ever since. This glimpse into the lives of a pair of bald eagles is amazing and WE are honoured to have it on our site. For more info on these eagles go to www.hornbyeagles.com

Pot Plant Owl
Alan and Tracey woke up one morning in Johannesburg, South Africa and looked out onto their balcony to find an owl staring back at them from a pot plant just outside their bedroom window. It was a spotted eagle owl and it remained there the whole day. As night came this magnificent bird of prey flew off into the darkness. The next day she was back and has remained there ever since. On August 21st 2009 she laid the first of three eggs in the pot plant. The male bird comes in regularly to help raise the chicks and Alan and Tracy share their living space with these wonderful birds. Now we have a camera watching these birds live as they go about their daily business. It offers insight into their feeding patterns both as tiny chicks and as mature adults. You can watch the special bond she has with these chicks and watch this incredible piece of nature unfold. To find out more about the story log on to www.potplantowl.co.za.
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Monday, 9 November 2009

A Change of Guard



Above is a picture of Allimo Mahanuke. She is a Shangaan lady from the village of Dixie and will be stepping in for Siphiwe whilst she is on maternity leave. Allimo is married to Pete Marimane who is a well known guide in the area and in fact has guided at Djuma a few years a go. Together they have two children, both little girls. One is called Trudy and is four years old and the other is Tildah who is only eight months. Allimo has bought them in to the WildEarth camp and much to the delight of our crew Trudy often walks around with Tildah tied with a towel on her back - in the true African way.

Allimo is perfect for the job of WildEarth Zoomie as she has a diploma in computing and also loves animals. WE are sure that she will be as calm as Siphiwe when the computers go down and there is panic all around. Good luck Allimo and WElcome to the team.

Siphiwe is just about ready to pop and is very tired these days. Her last day will be Saturday 14th November and WE wish her all the best with the birth of her third child. Siphiwe will join us again next year around March time. Below is a picture of her looking beautiful and glowing.


Thursday, 5 November 2009

News from Operation Migration

101-Oct 11 by Operation Migration.

As of this morning Operation Migration are on Day 21 of the southward migration and they have already covered 94.4 airmiles. Only 1190.6 miles to go! It really is a mission.
They are planning to do another leg today. If they manage it weather wise (which looks really possible) they'll be ahead of last year by 3 days.Today's leg will put the team in Illinois, and just 55 miles shy of a milestone of 10,000 miles. That's 10,000 miles guiding Whooping Cranes South to their new winter terminus. What an amazing achievement.
After a rocky start when the birds seemed reluctant to follow the trikes, the last two flights have seen all 20 young Whooping cranes eagerly following, and the last migration leg had all of them lined up beautifully behind one ultralight.

As most of you have probably seen the broadcast is intermittent on www.wildearth.tv. This is because they are not broadcasting when the trike is not in the air. However, the weather has improved greatly and the flights are becoming more frequent so keep your eyes on this channel as when it does pop up it is spectacular.

20 Cranes by Operation Migration.

Monday, 2 November 2009

News from Pennsylvania



As you probably know by now Pix Controller have installed a 3rd motion-activated remote camera which is currently setup over an active whitetail scrape. A whitetail scrape is an area a whitetail buck will create by scraping a patch of ground under a small tree usually in a funnel area where other bucks will see it. These act as a way bucks will communicate to each other during the mating season or the rut as it is known. A buck will scent the area by licking the branches above the scrape and urinate in the scrape. Many different bucks will typically visit a scrape site which is a great opportunity to video mature bucks.

The camera they have setup over an active scrape has not produced much to date other that this one hotspot:
However, not too far from this site they did capture this action on one of our motion-activated DVR systems this past week:
Pix Controller believe this is the first time an active scrape has been broadcast over the Internet LIVE. They have the ability to move this 3rd remote camera to another scrape site in hopes to see some better action before this phase of the mating season ends in about 3 weeks.

Another rather interesting find on their camera was two sightings of a whitetail doe with deformed hooves.Her hooves are unusually long which is caused by too much protein in her diet. Bill says that he has never seen this before, but has seen photos of this on the Internet. She has made two appearances to the main camera. They were able to capture some great footage and zoom the camera in for a better look at her hooves. (see attached photo)
Lastly, they have viewed some interesting groundhog behavior on the main camera. They witnessed groundhogs feeding at night last year, but when they were able to capture a hotspot and show a local wildlife expert he was amazed to see this. Groundhogs are not known to be nocturnal since they do not have eyes which can see in the dark very well. However, what we are seeing appears to be groundhogs feeding as much as they can before hibernation. Here is one of the video clips captured:
They also captured a couple clips of groundhog fighting over food area. This appears to be several groundhogs defending their territory.