Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If you go into the paddock today ...

... you may be in for a big surprise at just how many wallabies are out there.

As part of the Alternatives to 1080 Program we are monitoring animal numbers on a pasture area north of Launceston using a thermal imaging scope to get a feel for animal numbers at the site. Below is some footage which shows the numbers in two paddocks. In total I counted 67 wallabies (and also cattle) in the lower paddock, and 136 in the upper 2 paddocks last night.

I counted just over 210 in the upper 2 paddocks the previous night, but I did that count at about 9pm, and did this count at closer to midnight (the date and time on the video footage is incorrect) so I suspect more of the animals had moved down into the lower paddock explaining the difference in numbers.

Anyway, the video is more to give you a feel for the sort of 'intelligence' that the thermal scope can give you - you can see both its strengths (easy ability to locate animals at large distances without alerting animals to your presence) and weaknesses (unless the animal is moving or within 100metres it's almost impossible to identify species).

As an aside after counting the animals in the lower paddock, i walked up to the top paddocks via a different route and circled back down onto it from above and did a count with a spotlight. I was only able to count about 10 wallabies, and I could hear the rest of them running away into the bush.

Lower Paddock, approx 11:10pm, 21 October 2009. You can see how easy it is to find an animals location, but also you have no way of identifying species at these distances.

The next three videos below are actually panning across the same paddock from left to right, but unfortunately the video recorder I am using also breaks the images up into quite small segments. This is one of two top paddocks.

Top Paddock A (1 of 3), 21 October 2009.

Top Paddock A(2 of 3), 21 October 2009.

Top Paddock A (3 of 3), 21 October 2009.

I've just included the final video below, because although still not that clear on the footage, when looking through the scope at night at these distances (about 100metres), it is quite possible to distinguish between wallabies, possums and wombats, but not within species of wallabies.

Top Paddock B. 21 October 2009.

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