Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Bird's Eye View!

Late last month I spent a wonderful day with two of the project officers from Birdlife’s Shorebirds 2020 project. Dan and Debbie were keen to pinpoint some suitable monitoring sites at the western end of the Gippsland Lakes. I was involved as the ‘local knowledge’ component. The boot was on the other foot – I saw many spots I’d not been previously aware of.

Towards the end of the day I directed Dan into Dowds Morass. We pulled into a site that indicated some suitability as a monitoring point. Like most spots at Dowds, you don’t get to venture too far from the track without a boat or waders at the least.

Dan said, reaching into the back of the Mitsubishi, “I have the answer here”. I hadn’t seen a boat in the car, so I was expecting a set of waders to appear. He extracted one of these …

In just a few moments the quadcopter, camera and control console with Ipod attached, was set up and he was ready for some bird monitoring.

The machine was stunningly easy to control and the results were brilliant.

Dowds in the centre. Latrobe river and Heart Morass on the left.
Lake Wellington on the horizon.
I commented that at times I wasn’t able to see the thing in the distance, but of course you can see where it is on the Ipod screen as it relays a live picture back to the operator. And apparently if it gets out of range it sends back a signal and starts coming back to the start point automatically anyway!

Overcomes the line of sight problems with binoculars and telescopes.


  1. What a great invention for doing this sort of thing, and ideal for that area. BirdLife is certainly achieving results in a range of activities.

  2. Can you tick a bird seen by this device if you can't see it yourself?



  3. Hi Gouldiae we would be interested in knowing if there was any birds around and if the quadcopter disturbed any of them with the noise. Our son has one and he lives in Melbourne. He had a close encounter with a Wedge-tailed Eagle when he came up here to show us how it worked.

  4. G’day Neil,
    Yes, it can disturb birds apparently if taken too close. Needs to be used with consideration, a bit like using recorded calls to attract birds. During the demo I was given, a soaring Sea-eagle and a pair of Swans showed virtually no interest when it was briefly in their vicinity.

  5. Thanks Gouldiae it is a great way to see what the sites look like without getting wet.