2024 Strathbogie Forest Greater Glider Drone Workshop

On a cold near-winters night, the normally quiet Strathbogie Forest was met with the lights and sounds of a low-flying drone. This drone, equipped with the latest thermal camera technology, was scanning the treetops for its endangered and elusive target, the Greater Glider.

Back on the roadside, a small campfire had been lit by those motivated enough to brave the clear sky cold and huddle around the TV screen mounted to the back of a ute. The TV screen showed the live camera feed from the drone, illuminating anything warm with is infrared sensor. Field Master Systems specialises in arboreal mammal drone surveys, having travelled state-wide on the hunt for Yellow bellied, Greater, Feathertail and Sugar Gliders, Koalas and Possums to name a few. Deer, pigs, goats, foxes and other invasive species are also not safe from the prying eyes of their drones.

The basic search methodology is as follows:

  • Define the boundaries of the search area
  • Calculate the distance between transects (the grid pattern flight paths followed by the drone)
  • Calculate the height above the treetops and speed that the drone needs to fly depending on the species
  • Once an animal is located with the thermal camera, activate the onboard spotlight to verify its species
  • Record a photo/video of the species and note its quantity, coordinates and the time it was located

This method varies hugely depending on the terrain, vegetation type and density, the target species and other factors.

2x Greater Gliders feeding in a Narrowleaf Peppermint

After a slow start, the warm blooded tree dwelling community woke up, with sightings of ringtails coming thick and fast. The relief was palpable as the first Greater Glider made an appearance towards the end of the survey. First a huge specimen, its long tail drooping underneath left no doubt that it was a glider. Shortly after, a pair of glider were spotted cuddling up together in the upper storey of Narrow-Leaf Peppermint. A solitary koala hiding under dense foliage also made an appearance after much speculation as to its species.

A massive thankyou to those who came along, to the Goulburn Broken CMA for sponsoring the event as part of the Bogies and Beyond and Our Catchment, Out Community programs.

If you’d like to view the data collected on the night, it can be downloaded using this link.