The boxes have been out and left completely undisturbed for six months.
A wireless inspection camera was purchased to provide the least disturbance during monitoring.
All boxes are identified by GPS location (see map for full details). 22 boxes were monitored.
4 boxes contained only the original wood shavings – no signs were in evidence that any animals have been in or out.
1 box contained no wood shaving but had a large load of black ants.
2 boxes contained snakeskin remnants
1 box had a squirrel glider inside. When the ladder was placed against the trunk of the tree it startled the glider which exited the box and fled swiftly up the tree.
0 boxes contained an actual completed nest or young gliders or lorikeets or eggs.
17 boxes contained a sizeable volume of eucalyptus leaves, often being bunches of leaves joined at the stems. These leaves could not have fallen or blown in through the box opening. Animals must be bringing these into the box, suggesting there is a reasonable amount of interest in the boxes.
Equipment and processes
The wireless camera performed well for inspecting inside dark boxes.
For nesting boxes that are low to the ground, the operator was able to stand on the ground and inspect. However for around half the boxes, the length of the camera wire was insufficient, and the operator still needed to stand on a ladder.
The placement of the ladder against the tree caused one squirrel glider to exit the box.
What we learned.
We have come away from this first monitoring with many questions which is a good outcome. Some of these questions will be answered by researching, some by further monitoring sessions and some by asking experts. Information gathered and learned will continue to be posted on this blog.
We discovered that it will be well worth investing in an extendable pole arm for the wireless camera to avoid using ladders in the future. There were two reasons for the benefit of this. Firstly the more distance we can maintain from the box, the less we will disturb any wildlife nesting inside. Secondly, avoiding the use of ladders completely will make monitoring a safer procedure, and avoid having to physically carry a ladder around the entire property.
We discovered that it is valuable to have the second person already zoomed in and videoing the box before the first person makes contact with the tree or box in order to catch evidence of any animals escaping the box. This arose when a squirrel glider made a hasty exit from a box and all we got was one blurred photographic image.
I feel that it would be of great benefit to add a motion detection camera to the property and install it for one month at a time facing the entrance to nesting boxes to discover what kind of activity is occurring. The boxes selected will be strategically selected according to those that appear to have the most activity from this monitoring, combined with having a clear entrance and location to mount the camera nearby.