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new tool!

10 Juli 2023

This year we are trying out thermal binoculars to find wader nests. Finding wader nests is no easy task, they occur at low densities and could be anywhere on the tundra. Purple Sandpipers are especially hard to find as they are well camouflaged and giveaway no audiovisual cues at all. Up to now we used to find a handful of nest by accidentally flushing the bird; you need to be within 5 meters before they flush. This year, with the thermal binoculars, we can scan much larger areas with much less effort and follow the heat signals to incubating waders. It has made it much easier, but the tool relies on a difference in temperature and on sunny days you cannot distinguish between warm rocks and warm waders.

ps. the binoculars also give neat insights into the thermal conductance of the animals around. Geir Wing Gabrielsen is putting together an overview of all the birds in the fjord. Spoiler; some have warm feet and others don't!


Thermal picture of Purple Sandpiper on a warm day; the rocks are showing red, but the eye-region of the bird is still showing well.


On a cold day it is a little bit like stealing candy from a kid; the bird is relying on its camouflage (same bird in next picture), but there is no escaping the thermal binoculars.


You will only find these birds incubating if you accidentally get near them…


Barnacle goslings are loosing a lot of heat on cold days, mom and dad do much better! It is again the eye-region that is visible on adult birds.


I am guessing this Arctic Fox has no hair on its nose.


Reindeer loose heat through their heads and look at those antlers; thats why they are covered during winter!


Another reindeer with big antlers
This post is made by Mo Verhoeven



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