Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published yesterday. It is not immediately clear who this will affect bat conservation as there is essentially no guidance given (one of the reasons is it now so short). One of the helpful pieces of guidance, PPS9, is now obsolete. It seems that decisions about the maintenance of local biodiversity has been devolved down to the local planning authority who will have to make it up as they go along. This is alarming as many LPAs do not have in-house expertise on biodivesity issues. None of this affects any exisitng legislation protecting bat roosts, but there has always been a grey area about development and mitigation around very small and infrequently used roosts which leaves planners, consultants and the statutory nature conservation organisations somewhat in limbo.
The IEEM have published a response to  the DRAFT NPPF here.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Just back from two days filming in Bristol. As part of a series of programmes on biomimetics, we recreated an experiment we did a few years ago ago looking at how good Egyptian fruitbats Rousettus aegyptiacus were at avoiding obstacles. It should be called 'The Genius of Nature' and will be presented by Richard Hammond in the Autumn. We used a very exciting acoustic camera that records the location of sound emission from the bats and superimposes it onto the video feed. We also managed to get some fantastic high speed infra-red footage of the bats flying through obstancles. The picture below is of the executive Steve Nicholls getting up close and personal to one of the fruitbats (Barry) who was having a bit of a rest. Thanks to Hannah Sneyd, researcher and former project student of mine for the picture.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Off to Bristol tomorrow for two days filming with Oxford Scientific Films to try to recreate an experiment I did some years ago using Rousettus aegyptiacus fruit-bats using their click echolocaion to avoid obstacles.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

More writing for the BCT 'Planning and Designing Large Scale Surveys' course. Slightly complicated by the fact that the Infrastructure Planning Commision (IPC) which would have dealt with major infrastructure projects will hand over it's responsibilities to the Planning Inspectorate on the 1st April 2012 as part of the Localism Act (2011). This means that the planning process (and hence enivironmental impact assessments) are somewhat in limbo until there is a bit more of a steer on how the new processes will work. At least the course will be hot of the press.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Two new snippets of interesting photography news over the past week. The first is a rather sad one in that Kodak will discontinue all E6 reversal films (more commonly know as slide film). While I moved over to Fuji colour reversal filsm some time ago, this is still sad news as it puts further pressure on maintaining E6 processing lines in photo labs. While I admit that taking, processing and then scanning 35mm E6 film is a bit of a chore when I could have just taken digital, the quality from medium format prints from slides is just staggering. It would be a great shame to lose that option.
The other piece of news is that Nikon have finally released the long awaited sucessor to the D700, called unsurprisingly, the D800. This has the frankly staggering resolution of 36.3 Megapixels. Nikon has rather wisely kept out of the megapixel race for some time, but this does put the cat among the pigeons. I have to wonder what anyone will do with that resolution. My favourite lab, Peak Imaging uses a Durst Theta printer which outputs at 254 dpi. This means that the rather meagre 6 MP of my D100 can print perfectly good full frame prints at 12"x8", which is the usual size I print to. A D700 at 12 MP can print to 17"x11" which is quite big, but nice for hanging in a large room, while the new D800 could print to 29"x19", which to my mind is a little over the top unless you want to make a billboard. You could of course say that it gives you more options to crop in post-processing, which is of course true, though to my mind it is always better the get the shot right 'in camera' in the first place.

The warm end to February has also brought out the bats, with several sightings of pipistrelles in the evenings. I wonder how they fared this winter, being mild then very cold for a short period. Not an easy thing for a hibernating mammal to deal with, unpredictable winter weather.