Optics are important part of product development process at Cellular Tracking Technologies. We manufacture wildlife tracking systems, which, electronically speaking, work in a lot of ways like a smartphone. Wildlife researchers and managers attach our products to all kinds of animals and birds, and get the animals’ movement data though cellular, satellite and radio networks.

We constantly innovate new transmitters, and a key part of our work is verifying data patterns. Our transmitters can send very detailed data that wildlife biologists use to define behaviors, such as running, flying, or bedding and roosting. The acid test is first hand observation to correlate observed behaviors with data from the period of observation. This confirms the proper functioning of the device. 

The best observation of wild animals is, naturally, done from a distance. This is to avoid causing the animal to leave a location where it can be observed, and give our product development team the most time to make observations.

Distance is one thing, but observers may also need to see small identification marks like ringing/banding, ear tag numbers and possibly our transmitters, which may be very small. This is especially true in dense gatherings of a species, like a large flock of birds or a herd.

For example, we tag a lot of eagles in North America. These birds are extremely wary of anything strange. They are often reluctant to come into a bait location, so it can be a full day sit in a blind, several days in a row, just to catch one. Before we select a site for trapping, our biologists invest time sighting raptors. Experienced biologists can be pretty accurate in identifying the species of interest, but great optics help them in low light and less than ideal conditions to make a faster trap site selection.

 

In addition to product development, scientific observations are greatly aided with quality optics. Bird observatories are important contributors of scientific data.  As the name implies, observation is a key function. Many wildlife managers incorporate the data, which are counts of the number of observations of a species observatories provide. For the same reasons above, quality optics are a very important tool.

One more application of wildlife optics worth mentioning. To be successful in competitive bird watching events, like the Champions of the Flyway, high quality optics are mandatory. I am a competitor and plan to win. Central to my plan is addressing the need to see detail at distance to make the needed identifications quickly. I depend on world-class optics to win.

Given the requirements for detail at distance, and in both scientific and competitive situations, comfort carrying your equipment is another important aspect for success. Spend time finding the right carry set up for you.  It matters, and you’ll be glad you did.

 

Photos
Dan Fitzgerald
Jonathan Meyrav
David La Puma

One Comment

  1. Great contribution, showing how classic optical observation using top gear and the digital / wireless world come together for the sake advancing ornithological research. I like the Leica nature observation blog in general, but this article has a particular edge to it.

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