This weekend friend, Denis Stretton (of the Stow Maries Aerodrome kestrel box set-up) came up for the weekend, to help me with some of my projects. Sometimes a project is too much for me on my own, especially if it involves heavy boxes and tall ladders! It is also great to work on some projects with a friend as you can achieve so much more. Denis and I have different skills and have worked together on projects at Stow Maries as well as here.
I had a recycled owl plastic nest box from the Barn Owl Centre, but it needed adapting to house a camera, and I wanted to extend the front entrance perch into a balcony as I have found that it has worked really well with the tawny owl box at Yew View. With the very cold and snowy weather, my hall became a makeshift workshop for us.
Denis and I experimented with different angles and decided to install the camera into the inspection hole on the side of the box. To get it at the angle we wanted, we created a triangular box (from a recycled wine box ) This then screwed onto the side of the nest box.
I built a platform at the front and lined it with branches. Internal lights operate on a sensor, turning them on in the day and off at night.
Once we were happy with everything, we cabled the camera up and got everything ready to get it into the tree. This pear tree is at the end of my garden. I have had a nest box here for many years, but it had rotted and then fell off last month. I have opted for the plastic alternative as this will last forever and will need little or no maintenance. Tawny owls have nested in this location in the past.
Adding the camera housing and a large porch meant the box was heavier than normal, so Denis installed a batton on which we rested the weight of the box.
Once we had heaved the box up the tree, rested it on the batton and then affixed it to the tree, it was then just a matter of adding some substrate to the base of the box and attaching the entrance porch. Then, the lid was placed on top, fixing with easy to remove clips. It is a great design!
The view from inside, looking out of the entrance hole....
Just as we were finishing, it started snowing again! We ran the cable down the garden and were mighty relieved when everything worked and I could see the internal image up on my PC. My iCatcher console will now monitor this camera and I will be able to see if anything visits. The camera is a Hikvision mini PTZ, which means I can point the camera up at the entrance hole as well as move it to the base. The internal lights ensure a clear colour image in the day and then the IR kicks in at night, giving black and white images. A 12v output from this camera means I can wire up lights as well and I don't need to run another cable. The camera also has a microphone, so can record audio.
As we headed inside, it started snowing heavily again, with several more inches falling.
I have high hopes for this box. It has the potential for tawny of course, but the jackdaws and the squirrel will also check it out I am sure. Fingers crossed for a tawny owl though!