Relaxation of UAV rules

To: <>, <>
Subject: Relaxation of UAV rules
From: <>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2013 03:20:01 +0000
Hi Tom, 

There's been a fairly recent thread on this, but sometimes I think my emails 
don't get to the whole group. 

Put simply I cannot imagine a better way to count waders than with the right 
UAV. One thing I would add is that birds learn well, and are lazy - if a 
potential threat associated with a stimulus never eventuates, then they soon 
start to tolerate whatever the "potential threat" was. Fish farmers and 
airports have been battling this tendency for decades.



My original response from October last year:
I have flown an electric remote controlled helicopter near terns and waders and 
they watch it with the same kind of look they give a distant raptor - ie head 
cocked slightly to the side. When flown up beside a kestrel, its flight 
distance was about 5 m - that is, the kestrel hardly seemd concerned, and 
common passerines that sit on wires like peewees don't seem to care about being 
overflown by it. 

I think RC helicopters would be the best way of getting very accurate counts of 
shorebirds. You wouldn't need to get above them, and disturbance would be much 
less than approaching a mob of birds from a distance. I have not yet used our 
machine "in anger" for large shorebird counts, but I wish I had it in a 
previous life doing counts for an airport. The counts would have been 
significantly more accurate. 

I very much doubt a raptor or any other bird would accidentally run into it, 
though I have had woodswallows get quite close (2-3 m) in an obvious 
attacking-type behaviour similar to what they might do with a raptor. Their 
calls were woodswallow alarm calls, but they never connected, suggesting to me 
that they don't find the helicopter as threatening as a goshawk, corvid, falcon 
etc, or perhaps they could clearly see the turning blades and just wanted to 
avoid something so unfamiliar. The machine I use would probably seriously 
injure or kill a small bird, but you can put your hand into its rotors and 
usually get nothing more than a "papercut". The machine I use is electric, so 
noise is pretty much limited to rotor noise.

More powerful machines, especially those with combustion engines, could cause a 
lot more damage in the case of rotor strikes, and are obviously much noisier.

Eric Vanderduys
Technical Officer
CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
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-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Tom Tarrant
Sent: Friday, 1 March 2013 12:45 PM
To: Carl Clifford
Cc: Birding-Aus Aus
Subject: Relaxation of UAV rules

I wonder if anyone has done a study of the effects of drones on wildlife?
Would birds equate them with raptors?


On Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 12:29 PM, Carl Clifford <>wrote:

> The use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones as they are often 
> called, for applications such as bird and other wildlife surveys has 
> been somewhat limited in Australia, because of licensing problems. The 
> Civil Aviation Authority has just relaxed licensing rules for UAVs of 
> 2 Kg or less. this will make the use of UAVs for environmental purposes much 
> more practicable.
> See**2013-03-01/drones-set-for-**
> large-scale-commercial-take-**off/4546556<
> 013-03-01/drones-set-for-large-scale-commercial-take-off/4546556>
> Cheers,
> Carl Clifford
> ==============================**=
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message:
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Tom Tarrant
Kobble Creek, Qld

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