Thermal imaging supporting coastal conservation

by duncan kenny in Brixham, Torbay, United Kingdom

Thermal imaging supporting coastal conservation


£6,000 target 26 days left
16% 3 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 19th November 2021 at 1:43pm

To advance conservation research via thermal imaging to reduce wildlife disturbance and provide new data to aide wildlife welfare assessment

by duncan kenny in Brixham, Torbay, United Kingdom

As human/wildlife interaction increases around our coast and safe breeding sites for native wildlife are reduced due to human activity, we focus on access regarding the monitoring of principal species during critical times and promote the protection of both the species and habitats.

I am a conservationist managing 'Tide Conservation', a small organisation based on the South Devon coast. We manage habitat and wildlife protection projects, specifically focussing on human/wildlife coexistence. 


A bit of background stuff: 

My passion is doing as much as I can to protect our native coastal wildlife species. I see great benefit in combining my understanding of surveillance technology with progressive conservation research methodologies to advance the protection of native wildlife species.

Prior to moving full time to the coast to focus on conservation, I had a successful career in the security sector advancing Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) policy for surveillance and protection of public crowded spaces. Now I apply those same techniques to monitoring wildlife without disturbing them. 

I donate my time volunteering for local organisations to assist with long-term monitoring of seal and birds of prey numbers, which have helped monitor individuals and detect population patterns. I have consulted on projects for National agencies and conferences. I also hold qualifications in teaching, with experience of tutorage in the UK and overseas.

How much and for what?


We are seeking £6000 to offer a combined thermal imaging unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV/drone) and registered, experienced drone pilot service for use in recording data on native wildlife species as part of established conservation projects in South Devon. 

The ‘DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced’ thermal imaging drone costs £5,500. My pilot services will be offered free of charge. I am a registered drone pilot with Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). As the project progresses our aim is to introduce additional pilots who can work towards registration qualifications and join the team. The additional £500 goes to expenses, training and maintenance of the drone. 


Through the use of thermal imaging we initially aim to support two established volunteer led research projects. 


  • to improve the capability of licensed research and data collection, including recording of quantities and welfare of Peregrine Falcon, Buzzard and Goshawk, at monitored nesting sites in Devon
  • to identify potential new nesting sites for the purpose of monitoring species distribution, and assessing potential for disturbance


  • to improve the capability of research activity and data collection, including recording of welfare, identification, injury and growth rate of Grey & Common Seals, at monitored breeding sites in Devon
  • to identify potential new breeding sites for the purpose of monitoring species distribution, and assessing potential for disturbance

The camera will enable researchers to monitor protected sites from a safe distance and altitude enabling a reduced risk of human/wildlife disturbance. The camera is essential to existing projects as it offers unique capabilities specific to the welfare assessment of these vulnerable species. 

This initiative has potential to expand and support other local conservation charities and projects as it progresses, enabling researchers to operate in remote coastal areas safely that can't be achieved already with existing kit and volunteer resources.

Due to current developments in drone technology we are able to introduce this method to aide a variety research across South Devon. This will increase the capability of existing projects during critical wildlife breeding periods.

UAV’s in wildlife conservation

Shifting from the traditional way of surveying habitats and monitoring wildlife, we can progress data collection methodologies whilst maintaining safe distances from hazardous breeding sites, reducing risk to themselves and the improving safety of vulnerable native species.

With UAV technology, the right knowledge and techniques, our registered pilots can collect accurate data using remote sensors in the drone camera (48mp, 32x digital zoom) with a capability of centimetre-level positioning accuracy with GPS function and geo-fencing. This means we can control the exact camera location including altitude and grid reference to minute detail to enable correct and safe positioning for the benefit of the wildlife.


Drone technology for use in conservation research data collection is increasing as it can perform challenging tasks such as:

  • Flying at high altitudes to obtain clear images of remote habitats whilst recording both visual and thermal data simultaneously. The use of thermal imaging means we can remain further away from the animals than possible with standard visual drone cameras. 
  • Detecting objects, persons, animals and measuring size and temperature through remote sensors and an integrated high resolution thermal sensor, which supports spot meter and area measurement. This means we can accurately identify injuries and assess welfare and growth rates in young animals whilst monitoring the larger area for potential of disturbance by external threats.
  • Monitor wildlife without intrusion and minimise the risk of human/wildlife disturbance by utilising up to 240 waypoints to conduct automated, detailed inspection operations in complex environments. This enables us to return to breeding/nesting sites and carry out identical surveys with pin-point accuracy based on previous flight survey mapping.



Through raising these funds you will be able to support our work in this area and form partnerships with numerous existing established projects and organisations to enhance data collection and ultimately advance protection, knowledge and understanding for the benefit of UK native wildlife conservation.

Additional nerdy stuff...

Camera Specifications:

Thermal camera ; integrated high-resolution VOx Microbolometer thermal sensor which supports spot meter and area measurement, 640 × 512 thermal Resolution @30Hz, 16× digital zoom, pixel pitch 12 μm, spectral band 8-14 μm, ±2°C temperature measurement accuracy

RGB camera; Sensor 1/2” CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 M, Lens FOV: 84° 35 mm format equivalent 24 mm Aperture: f/2.8 Focus: 1 m to ∞, ISO range video: 100-12800 (auto), photos: 100-1600 (auto), 32x digital zoom, Max Image Size 8000×6000, Video Resolution 3840×[email protected], Real-time Kinematic Positioning (RTK) module precision 1cm+1ppm (Horizontal), 1.5cm+1 ppm (Vertical)



This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£200 or more

£200 Reward

Once the project is operational pledgers exceeding £200 will be invited to join Tide Conservation on a coastal field survey trip to see the technology being used surveying wildlife. The trip will be based in South Devon. Dates and details to be confirmed by private message.

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