I nearly picked up this female Boomslang as I cleared a fallen branch from the road! They're highly venomous, but have backwards-pointing fangs and avoid a fight when they can.
Photos of Zambian nightjars & coursers added to my photography page. Here's a close-up of a fiery-necked nightjar (Caprimulgus pectoralis)
Now I'm back in Zambia doing more fieldwork. This is the beautiful jacaranda avenue at the Bruce-Miller's farm:
Evolving Easter egg hunt goes live 16/4/14
Play our new game to help our research! The patterns and colours of the eggs evolve over time so that the best camouflaged eggs survive and replicate, while the easily found eggs go extinct. Keep coming back to play and see how much more difficult the eggs are to find.
How we're using citizen science to understand camouflage 19/2/14
This BBSRC article and video showcases our research. Using online computer games and crowd sourcing lets us test all sorts of camouflage hypotheses using our plover and nightjar data.
Laying more parasitic eggs could help evade host detection - new paper in Nat. Comms. 25/9/13
Our study shows that prinia (a host of the cuckoo finch) are able to remove eggs from their nests that look different to their own, but as the number of parasite eggs in their clutch increases they need a bigger visual difference to reject the foreign eggs. View the open access paper here.
Camouflage and Learning paper published in PLoS One 11/9/13
Our paper "Defeating Crypsis: Detection and Learning of Camouflage Strategies" has been published. The study shows how some camouflage stragegies are more vulnerable to predator learning than others - download -
This paper made it to the front page of NewScientist:
Nightjar game online! 20/8/13
Our new online game has gone live! Play it here, and see how good you are at finding nightjars. We hope to use the data from the game to see how well it matches up with out computer models of camouflage.
Update: The game is spreading fast, 900 people played in the first 24 hours! Loads more are playing today with The BTO and BirdLife international helping to spread the word. Our server isn't so happy though...
Nest finding 17/8/13
We've just found our first White-Fronted Plover nest on the beach. These nests are supposed to be "easy" to spot because these birds normally make a scrape in sand surrounded by footprints. But this beach is almost entirely made of broken shells and the eggs blend in perfectly. Maybe that explains why this is such a popular beach with the White-Fronteds. See if you can spot the pair of eggs in this shot:
Project Nightjar Online 16/8/13
Our new Project Nightjar site is up and running! The site gives details of our work with egg camouflage, and soon there will be some online camouflage games to play.
South Africa Fieldwork 1/8/13
I'm currently in South Africa with Jared, looking for plover nests to use in our camouflage experiments. Take a look at our twitter feed @ProjectNightjar, and our youTube channel for our latest predation videos.
Here's one of our Chestnut-banded Plover nests getting nabbed by a Pied Crow: