Feral goats are found across mountainous areas in Scotland, England and Wales. At BH Wildlife Consultancy we have been fortunate enough to be involved in counts of these hardy mountain dwellers in all three countries. Known to live in rocky cliffs and hard to reach terrain, in the past it has been hard to be confident on accurate population estimates using traditional methods such as foot counting.
Recently we were involved in a pilot scheme to count feral goats in North Wales. This was a challenging project as it was a large area to cover (in excess of 15 square kilometres) and the weather was also not on our side on the first day causing us to make last minute adjustments to our plans for carrying out the survey.
The drones capabilities allowed clear high definition imagery of each goat group often at great distances. What can often be counted as one goat when spotted through a hand-held thermal device can turn out to be a nanny with two kids once you zoom in with the drones HD camera. This often happens as the hand-held devices just pick up a heat source and since the kids tend to sit close by the nanny, the heat signature can often appear as one goat instead three.
The drone is also able to access all areas of the hill range whereas handheld devices require the operator getting into a good position and have visual line of sight to spot them. With the drones birds eye view of the undulating terrain - it was made much easier allowing sight to the hard-to-reach places without putting the operator at risk. Drone work is not without its challenges though as when the terrain is rocky and mountainous it can often be difficult to find suitable take-off and landing sites due to the lack of level ground.
The weather on the second day was fantastic and provided some excellent footage which we were able to turn into a short video. One of the many benefits of surveying with the drone is being able to get plenty opportunities to film wildlife exhibiting natural behaviour. We hope you enjoy the video below and look forward to sharing more imagery from the up and coming goat surveys. For more information on projects we are involved with visit our website.