Thursday, 27 April 2017

Installation of a MOTUS Tower at SpruceHaven

26 April 2017

     Late last year Dave Westfall agreed to fund the installation of a MOTUS tower at SpruceHaven with a view to radio tracking our Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica on their journey south. Not only would this enable us to monitor the progress of swallows breeding at Sprucehaven it also provides a critical link in facilitating the tracking of other species fitted with appropriate devices. Our tower will plug a gap in the existing network of towers enabling more precise data to be gathered.
     It truly doesn't get much more exciting than this!
     Zoe Crysler of Bird Studies Canada and her sidekick, Sean, made an appointment to come and install the tower, and along with Sandy, I was happy to greet them and show them where the tower was to be located. The following picture of Sean, Zoe and Sandy memorializes the event.

     The ground behind them would soon be transformed.
     Zoe and Sean began to transport the various components from their van to the site and it became obvious from the getgo they had done this before.

     In no time at all the main support structure was erected. At this stage it looks like a giant tripod!

     Work continued apace with every sequential operation performed with alacrity and skill.

     A recalcitrant bolt slowed down the operation for a few minutes, but between them Zoe and Sean managed to get it free so that the assembly could continue. You can see the determination on Zoe's face.

     I was happy to watch the assembly take place and Zoe was always willing to answer any questions I had and to explain the various components and their role in the overall operation of the tower.

     Sean took care to carefully position and drive in the stakes which will ensure that the tower remains upright, even in the event of high winds. Zoe mentioned that they have only had two towers ever go over. As a precaution towers are lowered before the onset of winter storms.

    We were now at the stage where the components vital to the receiving aspect of the tower could be installed.

     Zoe seems to be in her element making sure all this technical wizardry is installed exactly as it should be.

     Finally all was completed.

     We will be getting a brand new, state-of-the-art computer for our tower and Zoe will be returning next week to install it.
     For all who are involved in this operation, this is a unique opportunity afforded to few, to get involved in monitoring endangered aerial insectivores with the aim of discovering opportunities to help their populations to recover. We will know where the birds go in real time and will learn myriad aspects of their feeding strategies and opportunities, obstacles encountered in migration and a whole host of other facts, some of which we may not yet be able to conceive.
     Dave, Sandy and Jamie have already become conservation heroes; this can only serve to enhance their status as champions for wildlife. I salute them all.


  1. Interesting stuff David..........nothing like that here (as far as I know anyway).

  2. Did I miss it, or what does MOTUS stand for?

    1. MOTUS is simply the Latin word for movement and the equipment is so named because it tracks movement.

  3. Nice that it follow then all is David.
    Beautiful pictures you made.
    Greetings Tinie

  4. Great stuff, I love your pictures.

  5. Birds need to be helped because they are dying while wandering. I wrote about it here
    Bravo for help for birds. :)

  6. So interesting.. Great work.. Congrats David..

  7. Fascinating stuff, David. It seems to me that the investment in this installation recognises, and shows confidence in, the wonderful work that you and your group are doing in those parts.

    Love to you and Miriam - - Richard

  8. Hi David and what an interesting scheme to track the Barn Swallows. What type of transmitter do you fit to the birds and how are they fitted. The ones we use at Rutland with the Ospreys are a reasonable size but so are the birds. They fit with what appears to be sacking with a small solar panel on the back with all the electronics and an aerial. Great to see these youngsters helping with such a scheme. All the best, John