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News Time-lapsing RSPB Conservation Work in Svalbard

25 July 2022 Kate

Our cutting-edge hybrid technology camera systems are heading to Svalbard to capture vital conservation activity. 

As part of our ongoing partnership and close collaboration with the RSPB, Seabird Watch, and the Department of Zoology at Oxford University our camera systems are now en route to Svalbard – part of the Kingdom of Norway – and northern breeding grounds.

Time-lapsing RSPB Conservation Work in Svalbard

After the successful roll-out of our camera systems to monitor seabirds for the RSPB in remote coastal sites around the British Isles, the project has been extended to cover the full extent of Puffin, Kittiwake, and Guillemots breeding areas, from their southern grounds in Scotland to their most northern in Svalbard.

After our initial hands-on training in Scotland, Tom Hart and Alice Edney from the University of Oxford are carrying out the task of setting up our bespoke camera systems in further remote locations. This fieldwork and research is being carried out in partnership and supervised by the RSPB, and as part of Alice’s doctoral studies. 

This challenging part of the project will see the pair traveling by boat to reach remote northern locations. With the expertise of Quark Expeditions, specialists in exploring the polar regions, they will head to their furthest north destination Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. These arctic climate islands are important breeding grounds for sea birds – benefitted by two-thirds of the islands being nature reserves and national parks.

Time-lapsing RSPB Conservation Work in Svalbard
The location of Svalbard

With tough terrain to overcome, the time-lapse camera systems are for the most part set up on board the boat for a quick transition on land for the final set up on a cliff face. The correct positioning of the camera systems is vital, and as with the locations in Scotland and the British Isles they are aimed to cover the bird colonies ascending and descending ordinarily with a particular focus on dusk and dawn. To add to the complexities of the time-lapse capture, there are long daylight hours with sunlight present from April to September in this arctic region.

Our camera systems can work in such challenging remote, environments, as we have developed a totally off-grid system that can operate for months in extreme conditions, all whilst capturing in unprecedented quality. Using our innovative technology, time-lapse photography records images of colonies at regular intervals using DSLR Ultra High-Definition imagery, allowing seabirds to be monitored successfully in this way for the first time. 

Furthermore, our camera systems can be monitored and controlled remotely via 4G. And also with a live feed to our in-house developed Interactive Remote Imaging System (iRiS) portal, which will allow Alice, Tom, and colleagues to view still frames in real-time and collect the vital data they need to help with their work, in ways that would otherwise be impossible. 

As Dr Tom Hart explains, “Remote monitoring of seabirds in the coastal UK all the way to the polar regions gives a huge insight into the annual cycles of these animals and the threats to them. However, it takes a substantial investment in making the camera system extremely rugged and easy to use in the field. Hideaway Media Ltd (Time-Lapse-Systems) have listened to our needs and produced something amazing!

Hideaway Media Ltd (Time-Lapse Systems) is constantly developing cutting-edge, innovative camera systems. Our ’next generation’ system, GabrielCam® will hopefully be deployed later this year with Tom and his colleagues to the Arctic and Antarctic. The development of these systems which will aid conservation work is something we are fully committed to. We look forward to supporting the RSPB, Seabird Watch, and other conservation bodies on important projects in the years to come. 

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Time-Lapse Systems are a part of Hideaway Media Ltd (est. 2007). World leader in the provision of bespoke time-lapse capture and site monitoring solutions. UK and Worldwide.