For the past 6 years Sonar Ecology has been using thermal imaging and motion-activated infra-red cameras to supplement the conventional survey and monitoring techniques we often use.  Dr Wicks is an ITC certified Level 1 Thermographer and is able to undertake thermography assessments and accurately interpret the results using specialist software. Use of thermal imaging has increased our confidence in our assessment work, as we have been able to capture footage of animals in real time rather than inferring activity or habitat use from indirect methods such as acoustic recordings or from field signs alone. This has provided evidence of bat roosts, confirmed absence of bat roosts and revealed detailed information about bat flight paths and habitat use across sites.

The use of thermal imaging is advantageous in specific circumstances, and we can provide advice about when the use of thermal imagery is likely to be beneficial to our clients. Uses of the technology include behavioural studies of nocturnal animals, distribution of nocturnal birds and other fauna, and where clear evidence is required by stakeholders via stills or video imagery.

Ecological Applications

Some applications could include:

  • Birds – nocturnally active or cryptic bird species /owl surveys/ nesting bird checks
  • Badger – clan dynamics, information on territories, sett and mitigation monitoring
  • Bats -accurate counts from roosts, rapid assessment of tree roosts in woodland, numbers and direction of flight to assess commuting corridors and foraging habitat, long-term monitoring of activity for licence/planning conditions, crossing point surveys for infrastructure projects.

Thermal imaging cameras can significantly increase survey accuracy, albeit at additional cost as they require experienced staff to operate them. The popular thermal scopes (different to thermal cameras) have an affordable price point and are increasingly used by ecologists.

Both high end thermal cameras and thermal scopes have a place in ecology, however understanding the key specifications for any device is critical. It is therefore important to understand when this technology is most applicable to ecological work. Please contact for more information on how we can assist your projects.

Check out the Thermal Imaging Kit Blog for tests and reviews, and the Training Page for information on fast tracking you in your journey towards using thermal imaging in your consultancy work.

The video below from You Tube shows how thermal imaging can be used in ecology work.