Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Three best nature live-streams

Posted by Steve Mowat

– Orcas itching a scratch – you might have seen how bears scratch themselves with a shimmy on their favourite tree, but what do you do when you live underwater, have no hands and nothing but a sea of pebbles – see how Orcas deal with it on this underwater cam. Do they even get itches or is it more of a massage? Check it out and decide for yourself.
speaking of bears…

– Transylvanian bears – a necessity during times of worry and strife. Check in on these amazing animals living their lives day and night in Romania and catch sightings of other incredible wild forest animals – we’ve seen deer, wolves, foxes and others.

– DRC Gorillas – no, that’s not your reflection in the computer screen, that’s a Gorilla in the Democratic Republic of Congo picking its nose live on camera. It’s like reality TV but with more sophisticated animals. Loads of cameras mean you’ll be treated to fascinating behaviours and captivating close-ups. Just be careful you don’t watch it long enough that you start talking to them as if they’re your family.

If you want to make your own wildlife documentaries you can get started with a a naturebytes camera here.

Let us know what you think of the channels and if you have any other favourites.

Enjoy!

Free naturebytes’ Minecraft World

Posted by Steve Mowat

Our Minecraft world and education activities are an immersive and engaging approach for everyone to learn what biodiversity is, what means to us and what we can do to protect its future.

The new interactive curriculum now available for all Minecraft: Education Edition users, called Extinction! A Biodiversity Crisis. This content pack includes three standards-aligned lesson plans and a purpose-built Minecraft world from the creative minds of Naturebytes, a UK-based collective of technologists and conservation scientists.

Ride a rollercoaster through different eras, meet scientists and conservationists, conduct research about climate change and ecosystems use our educational resources, and work collaboratively to build creative solutions to counteract threats to biodiversity.

 

The Three Challenges:

  1. Tour through time from the Ice Age to present day
    The immersive world presented as part of Extinction! A Biodiversity Crisis is designed so that even teachers new to using Minecraft: Education Edition can get started quickly and easily. Take a rollercoaster journey through time to visit charismatic extinct species, investigate the causes of their extinction, learn about the importance of biodiversity and how it has shaped the world in which we live.
  2. Learn about extinction, climate change, and ecosystems
    Explore core concepts related to biodiversity, then apply knowledge to five threatened species biomes from around the world including the Philippine Eagle, Bison, Hawksbill Turtle, Snow Leopard, and Orangutan.
  3. Teach students the importance of biodiversity and build towards a better future
    Learn about the value, threats, and sustainable species management before building an Orangutan reserve to benefit the people, profit and planet. Players will also learn about the threats to biodiversity currently contributing to its global decline and experience how their decisions today can have an important impact on the world.

This Biodiversity content pack is available for all Minecraft: Education Edition supported platforms (Windows, macOS, and iPad). Learn how to get started with Minecraft: Education Edition with the free trial.

You can find all the Minecraft activities from the naturebytes Creative Studio here:
https://education.minecraft.net/biodiversity/

Comment and post to let us know how you found the experience. Enjoy!

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Climate Action Lab @ World Economic Forum

Posted by Steve Mowat

The importance of this is best explained by words of the student founders – see ‘mission statement’ below,

Inspiring words from the Davos youth!

We trained students in climate entrepreneurship and activism, conservation tech and we were treated to amazing sessions:

live interviews with the plant-powered selfie scientists,
how AI and drone footage protects great white sharks and people
machine learning with thermal images of elephants (and students) + more

Surprise guest Parker Harris, Salesforce CTO, even popped by to get involved.

“We have set up the Climate Action Lab for students to help make a positive change for themselves”

Even more impressive were the students and their guerilla campaigns;

Su Adams at (U Can Too) and the students investigated Davos air quality, finding a spike in pollution (above healthy levels) around new years day.

On discovering fireworks had a large and lasting on air quality, the students took to the streets, armed with their new evidence, handing out information and bottled Davos air to raise awareness and campaign for the protection of their air quality.

There’s more to come from the Davos students.

We’re now working to expand the Climate Action Lab network internationally so let us know what you think, get in touch and get involved!

 

Climate Action Lab Mission Statement by the students of Davos

“There are a lot of people that do not understand how serious Climate Change is for everyone – politicians aren’t doing enough.

We have set up the Climate Action Lab for students to help make a positive change for themselves.

We will share information, collect our own environmental evidence and take action to make a more sustainable, happy, equal and beautiful world.”

 

*This post has been adapted the original LinkedIn post*

Exploring nature in lockdown

Posted by Naturebytes

Exploring nature in lockdown: new kit and expert tips

Here’s something a little different for your lockdown – tips with a nature twist from our conservationists on how we’ve been exploring nature recently.

For those who have been in touch about building their own wildlife camera or after education resources, we’ve got new stock in at our online shop and new Wildlife Cam Kits in the next couple of weeks – but here’s some other free stuff for starters…..

We put these together to compliment the lists and tips filling up our inboxes. We always recommend active participation and exploration activities – it’s more fun that way.

1. Take new opportunities to explore outside – right now, a lot of people have a new opportunity to get outside during weekdays with our families when the sun is high in the sky – take it! Urban species are becoming more apparent, pollution is down and gardens and parks are teeming with life – get outside and enjoy it.

whilst you’re there…..

2. Become an Animal ID expert with free mobile apps – impress your friends with your new wildlife expertise with amazing apps like iNaturalist and BirdUp. They use image and sound recognition to help you ID species from pics or audio recording from your phone. You can even add images from your wildlife cam kit to ID species.

when you’re back indoors….

3. Live Safari from your sofa everyday – join WildEarth on live safari and get transported to the South African bush. See amazing wildlife up close and watch out for the newborn Leopard cubs this week. The experts you join along for the ride have incredible knowledge, good camera work and you can tweet your questions to be answered live from the wilderness. It’s a good watch for all ages and the safaris run twice a day (arranging sofas into a lounge safari jeep, optional).

Coming soon – we’ve been asked if we can make some of our activities available from the Climate Action Lab that we launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos so watch out for these, available soon.

Let us know if you enjoy these or want to know more, we hope you do.

Our best wishes to you all, take care everyone!

The naturebytes team

 

Education and kit store
 

Free naturebytes resources

 

Wild Dubai

Posted by Naturebytes

We’ve been in Dubai for a few weeks now – and we’ve been overwhelmed at how keen the UAE is to engage with Nature EdTech at naturebytes! If you’re an educator or school in Dubai or the UAE that’s looking to engage students with smart STEM skills, get involved – and spread the word!

Working with the Dubai Future Foundation, the KHDA and our Pioneer partners, the naturebytes team of conservation, technology and education specialists are delivering bespoke education and technology programmes – tailored to the needs of Dubai.

We’re working with the youth of Dubai to give them the tech skills and tools they need to solve the real-world environmental challenges, reconnect with nature and create a brighter future for themselves!

Find out more at www.naturebytes.org/dubai

Birds fly from the naturebytes NestBoxes

Posted by Naturebytes

Naturebytes NestBoxes have been set-up by schools all over Belgium. The NestBox was created especially for the Xperibird project, fitted out with our specialist tech, including; a Raspberry Pi computer, night-vision camera and user control interface;  creating a live video stream direct from the NestBox to the classroom. Students have closely followed the lives of their bird family as they grow from eggs, to hatchlings, to flying the nest.

NestBox Infographic

It’s been an amazing experience to see how the NestBox insights have captivated their audience – we’ve seen nesting great tits and blue tits, 14 eggs laid in just one nest, chicks taking their first flight and some of the breeding pairs are now successfully raising their second brood of the season.

The trials and tribulations of bird life have made it an emotional journey for some of the schools and their adopted bird families. One teacher from Free School of Fraipoint, Belgium said “Our school, children, parents and teachers have all been touched by this fabulous adventure! A big thank you to the designers of Xperibird!”

The Xperibird truck delivers the NestBoxes across the country

The Xperibird project is a three year project delivered to schools across Belgium by the wonderful people at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and is funded by Google.org. Through the distribution of NestBoxes, digital learning, bird observations and data collection, the Xperibird project has brought schools and scientists together to better understand these key bird species.

National map of Xperibird NestBoxes

You can find out more and check out the latest videos on the Xperibird website, it’s great!

If you have any thoughts, questions or are interested in a similar project, get in touch as we’d love to hear from you.

Steve

naturebytes co-founder

 

 

Kenya Cam Kit Conservation

Posted by Naturebytes

It’s not everyday that you get asked if the Naturebytes Wildlife Cam Kit would survive a bite from a hyena. One conservation organisation wanted to trial a kit to support their exciting citizen science project by capturing short 5 second video clips of animals roaming the African savanna so their users could identify what was spotted in the video. The Wildlife Cam Kit was therefore modified to take video (it takes photos by default) and took on the challenge. A USB WiFi dongle, 3G Netgear router and a larger Li-ion battery were added too. Instead of saving to the usual USB drive, videos were saved to the SD card instead.

The real challenge with deploying kits remotely is establishing a connection to the device from your home / office to check battery levels, perhaps change a configuration file, or even command the kit to take a photo / video on demand. The local GSM provider didn’t allow us to purchase a static IP address (so we could connect to the kit directly). To get around this we used a rather fantastic programme called PageKite. PageKite is a reverse proxy service that doesn’t care what your original IP address is – it boots and then provides you with a fixed pagekite.me URL that always points to the kit. We’re using it at the moment to host a small http server too so we can browse the contents of the /video folder on the kit from afar.

It’s great to see users modifying and extending the capabilities of the kit for their own needs and we can’t wait to see what the kit captures over time.

Al
Naturebytes Co-founder

 

 

 

Naturebytes in the classroom

Posted by Naturebytes

A study by the RSPB revealed that four in five young people are disconnected from wildlife. We’re on a mission to change this, so we visited Brecknock School, a London inner city school, to run our Wildlife Cam Kit workshop.

Delivered to a class of 10 – 11 year old students, the activity gave an introduction to the naturebytes kits and the important role that conservation plays in preserving the world’s species and habitats. During the activity the students learnt about the fundamental concepts of computing, technology and natural sciences through the application of creative project based learning. Once the kits were assembled the students then placed their camera at carefully chosen spots around the school grounds to get the best shots of their resident critters.

After two days of impatiently waiting to see what they caught on camera, the students collected their kits, analysed which species they snapped, recorded any interesting behaviours they observed and then presented their findings to the class. The most popular animal was “Cyril the thieving Squirrel“ you can see caught red handed with the bird food.

We’re happy to say that Maeve Doherty, Year 6 Teacher, and her class enjoyed the workshop “ all the children were engaged as it was hands on and their interest was kept throughout. There was lots of enthusiasm for the project and after the Naturebytes team left the students were left wanting to do more.”

We are now rolling out our educational activity and are offering you the chance to have a go with our Wildlife Cam Kit loan scheme for schools in the London area. If you are interested please send an email to info@naturebytes.org and we will get in touch.

Jon

Naturebytes Co-founder

New Naturebytes Online Community

Posted by Steve Mowat

Hi Everyone,

We’ve been working behind the scenes to develop an improved online community experience for you. You’ll have noticed that you can upload your photos to the website, select a location and record your sightings, but until today you couldn’t view uploads from across the community.

Take a look at the new community map (once logged in) and you’ll discover that you can now view uploads from other users and search for sites local to you by specifying the number miles away from any given location. Click the map icons and you’ll also get a snapshot of the user’s featured photo and a glimpse of their location / site.

To help you manage your uploads we have also improved our menu system (this was the yellow bar that shows when you log in). You’ll now find a range of quick options on your profile page to help you easily upload, manage and share your experiences using the Naturebytes Wildlife Cam Kit.

Excitingly, we’re also gearing up to launch our first Naturebytes challenge where the entire community can work together to help identify species in unison so help answer conservation questions. This is a perfect time to get your kits outside and reconnect with wildlife.

Check it out, we think you’ll like the changes.

Steve

Co-founder, Naturebytes.

New National Nest-box Project

Posted by Naturebytes

We’ve teamed up with The Natural Science Museum of Belgium, with funding from Google.org, to create the Naturebytes smart NestBox national school project. The Naturebytes NestBoxes are creating a network of young people all learning digital skills to become citizen scientists and monitor key bird species. It’s the internet of things for wildlife!

The Naturebytes NestBox includes a Raspberry Pi computer and infra-red camera to covertly live-stream and photograph from inside the nest-boxes and capture key information such as: which species are nesting, how many eggs are laid and how many chicks survive to grow up and leave the nest.

Check out the video below of a Great tit feeding it’s chicks in a Naturebytes NestBox and find out more on the Xperibird project page.

Right now, we’re lining up the expansion of this project into different regions so if you would like to partner with us or get involved in this exciting project, we’d love to hear from you.

Steve

Co-founder, Naturebytes

 

The PlantPot Bot

Posted by Naturebytes

As you can imagine, as a nature-inspired digital making organisation we were delighted to see that the Raspberry Pi Foundation itself has created a fantastic kit, the PlantPot Bot, to help you monitor your plants, log useful data, and have a whole heap of fun doing it.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation's limited editions PlantPot Bot.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s limited edition PlantPot Bot.

They have created a feature packed custom PCB board to help you in your mission to save all plants from imminent under, or over watering doom, as now you have the cold scientific facts to understand what your green friends need to stay happy and healthy.

The kits have been lovingly hand made by the team at the Foundation and are perfect for families to build on the kitchen table, something that Naturebytes loves – digital making teamwork between family members is great. Our Wildlife Cam Kit would quite happily sit side by side so you could even keep an eye on what’s eating your plants if you combined both kits.

The PlantPot Bot allows you to monitor ambient light levels, humidity, soil moisture and temperature so it will tell you everything you need to know. We have one on our desks and are building it ourselves so we can take it for a spin here at Naturebytes HQ. We’ll let you know how we get on, and can only imagine that the plants in our office will be a lot merrier this Christmas with the Bot watching over them.

Welcome Wildlife!

Posted by Steve Mowat

Like us, wildlife needs places to eat, drink, sleep and live as families. It’s getting harder for our wildlife to find places to do these things but It’s really easy for anyone to lend a helping hand and get a little creative.

There are so many simple and easy ways to turn your garden into a nature hub teeming with wildlife so we’ve shared few here (and it doesn’t have to cost a penny!);

1. Build a Bug Hotel

The Bug Hotel provides a hideout for insects as well as a range of other important species such as hedgehogs and frogs. Recycle materials you have handy, you can be fancy and build a multi-story 5* luxury hotel or keep is simple and build a wood pile, bugs will love them both.

Find a spot the bugs will love, some shade, some moisture within clear sight so you can see when the new neighbours move in.

bug_house

Stack different levels using bricks, pallets, and wooden boards as the support and frame for your hotel. Leave lots of nooks and crannies and make sure it’s a safe and stable home for your wildlife; you don’t need to build a skyscraper!

Then fill the spaces with other natural materials you can find such as dry leaves, logs, twigs, pinecones, sand and hay.

All good homes need a roof, so keep your bug hotel dry with sheet board, roof tiles or polythene if you have some. It’ll be on MTV cribs in no time.

2. Connect to the nature network

Your garden is part of a larger network that wildlife needs to survive but animals need corridors to move between gardens, parks and outdoors spaces. Build corridors using hedges and growing plant life around the borders of your garden and link gardens by creating spaces between fences and under gates for hedgehogs to get through.

Photo – arkinspace.com | Nigel Jones

Photo – arkinspace.com | Nigel Jones

3. Lay on a bird buffet

Lay on a year round feast for your birds. Birds need help especially during the winter months when food is scarce but they need food all year round. You can buy birdfeeders or make your own recycling materials as simple as a drinks bottle, string and pencils. Of course your birds will want a drink; a shallow dish of water will do nicely.

Just make sure you keep feeders and water clean to stop birds getting ill. Mix up the buffet menu, you don’t want the same old customers coming back for the free food. Use a selection of food such as mixed seeds, porridge oats, apples, suet pellets and sunflower seeds.

Photo - sherisilver.com

Photo – sherisilver.com

Jon’s Beta Testing Garden

Posted by Naturebytes

Below are just a few of the avian species Jon was able to capture during the trial of the wildlife camera kit. We’re thrilled to report that the tuning of the PIR sensor and speed of capture looks to be just about right and the photo quality @ 720 x 480 means it’s easy to spot what has flown by in these examples below. You can set the quality to be higher, but we wanted to see what we’d get with an average picture size.

Do you know what this bird species is?

Do you know what this bird species is? Answers in the comments

We haven’t modified the lens in the shots below (as it’s possible to change the depth of field by screwing the lens out / in on the standard Raspberry Pi camera module) so you’re looking at shots a little over 50cm away from the camera in these examples. Jon has come up with a lovely little 3D printed tool to actually make life easy when wanting to alter the camera’s depth, so stay tuned for a look at that in the near future. For now, see if you can identify the species in these photos below by posting in the comments and we’ll let you know if you got them right.

beta2

beta3

beta4

Reconnect with wildlife

Posted by Steve Mowat

As a conservation ecologist, I see evidence of these severe declines first hand and we all see these stories on the news and hear about damage to the environment. Despite this, there’s no change to our daily lives, we don’t feel any different, we haven’t seen anything different, so why would we worry about it? It seems we are so far removed from where all this bad news is taking place, it doesn’t matter to us. How can we care about something if we have no connection to it?

Half of the 9-11 year olds polled by the BBC Wildlife Magazine were unable to identify an oak tree, bluebell, blue tit or daddy-long-legs.

Half of the 9-11 year olds polled by the BBC Wildlife Magazine were unable to identify an oak tree, bluebell, blue tit or daddy-long-legs.

Not surprisingly then, an RSPB study of 1,200 youngsters showed that four in five children in the UK do not have a connection to nature. The children surveyed displayed a lack of any real appreciation, empathy or responsibility for nature and it wouldn’t be too much too assume most adults feel the same too. To add to this, a BBC Wildlife Magazine poll recently found that playing in the countryside was children’s least popular way of spending their spare time, and half of the 9-11 year olds they polled were unable to identify an oak tree, bluebell, blue tit or daddy-long-legs. Wildlife is withering away while we drift further from it. Younger generations are becoming further removed from the natural world around them and miss out on the excitement, the wonder and the improved health and happiness that a connection to nature provides.

So how did we become so removed from nature? The answer is complicated and there are many reasons, but put very simplistically it is widely considered to come down to three main reasons;

It’s this last point, screens stopping children from getting outside, that I regularly hear parents and teachers complain about. If we continue to fight the battle of “The Screens Vs Nature” for the minds of our children, nature will lose.

If we continue to fight the battle of “The Screens Vs Nature” for the minds of our children, nature will lose.

We need to take a new approach to our relationship with nature and technology. By flipping the current negative mindset on it’s head, we can turn the attraction of technology into a positive for nature. The gadgets we fear actually provide us with access to a whole world of information on a scale never seen before. We can use technology to reconnect with nature in new exciting ways. This is something we at Naturebytes believe in and are working hard to realise.

We are creating Digital Maker Kits that appeal to peoples natural interests in wildlife, something we’re calling “Wildlife Digital Making”. Our first kit will be the Wildlife Cam Kit, a heat sensitive camera trap that anyone can make and set up to take HD images of the wildlife in your garden, park or school. It’s a cool piece of tech that gives you a pair of eyes on your garden when you’re not their. More importantly, the wildlife doesn’t know it’s watching them so it gives you an insight into the illusive wildlife and the unseen animal behaviour that goes on in your back garden whether that’s a robin, hedgehog or the neighbourhood fox.

We can use technology to reconnect with nature in new exciting ways

The Naturebytes community is an open one, developing ideas and exciting new ways to use technology to help us all reconnect with nature. Naturebytes is one small step in the right direction, but we all need to find a way to reconnect with nature. So get involved in wildlife digital making, visit your local park or nature reserve, spend time in your garden or go for a walk. Whatever it is that works best for you, reconnecting with nature can only be a good thing for wildlife and for you.

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