Wildlife Drone Surveying Workshop with Field Master Systems

If you’re familiar with the Strathbogie Forest and it’s plight, you may also be familiar with one of it’s main residents. The Greater Glider is one of our lesser known, but equally cute tree dwelling marsupials. With a thick dark fur and long distinctive tail, the Greater Glider has been the subject of a lot of research. From academic institutions to citizen science projects, the mysterious critters have captured people’s imagination.

Attendees see the real time camera feed on a vehicle mounted TV screen (photo by Justus Hagen)

John Davison and Alastair Tame from Field Master Systems (FMS) showed keen attendees how drones are revolutionising animal surveys. FMS specialises in conducting both pest and native animal surveys in difficult to reach places. Using the latest thermal camera technology, they showed how quick and effective drones have become at spotting and recording animal populations. The thermal camera was used to find heat signatures in the tree tops. When an animal was found, the drone was manoeuvred in for a closer inspection using a visual camera and LED spotlight. The additional resolution and colour from the visual camera allowed for positive ID of the animal.

A Greater Glider captured by the drone camera

After moving the workshop from the meeting point due to an unfortunately timed blanket of fog, a new fog-free location was found. Within minutes of John launching the drone, the first Greater Glider was spotted. 4 more were found over the course of the night. It was heartening to see just how many gliders there were in a random, relatively small sample of forest.

Thanks to all of those who made the trip out to the dirt roads of the bogie forest. Thanks also to the GBCMA who funded this workshop through the Bogies and Beyond program. This article was written by Alastair Tame who is a co-owner of Field Master Systems.