When I started my WildlifeKate business two and a half years ago, I would have never dreamt what would have happened and how I would have become so captivated by the potential of wildlife cams in my garden. From just one nest box camera, I now have 16 cameras all around the garden, constantly changing and moving depending on what is happening. These cameras have given me an unique insight into the wildlife in my garden and with that, my obsession has grown!!
At this time of year, many of my cameras move to nest boxes and it becomes important to be able to watch and monitor these cameras to see if there is any early interest. Of course, I can come home from work, check my live cameras and see that there is some grass in a nest box that was not there that morning… and know that something has been in there! A much better way is to use software that monitors the boxes for you. I have tried lots of different systems in the past, but have held out this year as I knew the system I wanted to install; an icatcher system called icatcher console. Originally designed for high tech security systems, this software will monitor cameras and record when movement is detected. I am simplifying its capabilities massively, but want to start simple so I get to grips with the software as well as explain it to my followers! So, in a nutshell, this software will do what I have been attempting to do manually…. it will watch all my cameras and, when it detects movement, it will record. I can then go back to any camera, double click and bring up a screen with a timeline underneath. Wherever there is a blip on the timeline, movement was detected. I can click on that and see the footage. I can capture a single screen, or run those together to create a video!
As you can imagine, this will have a HUGE impact on what I am doing here and means that I will not miss any of the action, and fulfil my obsession of capturing every moment of by bird’s nest building and raising a family; something that was difficult last year when I was attempting to do it manually.
Today Huw Edwards, the ‘Big Boss’ from iCatcher came up and spent a day with me, helping to get some of this kit up and running! I will be blogging more about the kit and what I am doing with it as I get to grips with it, but I am already blown away with what we have managed to achieve and set up today.
One of the extra exciting parts of today was Huw bringing a rather special camera with him. This new camera I have bought is a Rolls Royce compared to the other cameras I currently use. It is a Vivotek Bullet HD camera and the quality is simply astounding.
This camera will be set up on my busiest feeder; the hub feeders, but we did not have a cable long enough today, so we set it up on the hedgecam platform. Being widescreen, the camera angle is much greater than any of my other cameras and the colour and sharpness of the image blew me away!
Within a minute or so the birds started coming down and I was able to see the capabilities of the software combined with a top-notch camera like this. The footage it records is at 25 frames per second and this can be played back one frame at a time. This means you can watch the birds every move and just doing that is fascinating…. watching a blackbird pick up a suet pellet, arrange it in its beak then flip it up, move its head forward to capture and swallow. Any frame can be captured and saved or any sequence saved as a video.
Here are some captures from this camera…. just look at the definition and clarity of these!
I also set it up on Prickly Diner, where the wood mice are popping in and out and capture a couple of stills….
As you can imagine, this software has massive implications for me and I can see myself up hours reviewing thousands of hours of footage and uploading epic amounts of stuff onto YouTube!!
Huw helped me set up 8 cameras on the icatcher console and we left 8 cameras on my current, old live stream set up. The plan was to move them all over, but the VGA to TV converter, that will allow me to choose the cams to live stream was faulty, so Huw is going to have to order me another one of those. At present, I have the 8 cameras running on the icatcher console. I can arrange these on the two monitors I have, in any way I wish. These images show 4 on each monitor. The plan is that the right hand monitor will be the cams I choose to live stream. I can view them all and just drag the four I want to live stream onto the right hand monitor and the converter will live stream whatever is on that monitor! At present I use a 16 way splitter, but I have to plug in and unplug to create the quad views I want. This will make it much easier. I can also save set ups and tell it to switch to them at certain times… ie. switch to my night cams at a certain time, without me physically having to do it!
There is loads more, but Huw and I decided that I need to get to grips with a bit at a time…. I haven’t even mentioned the phone app… yes I can control all of this via my phone too……. all pretty mind blowing stuff!
I think that is all I can cope with today… my mind is exploding with the possibilities, but what it will mean for me and all those who follow me, is a truly amazing intimate story documented from all my nest boxes and other cameras this coming year…. onwards and upwards as they say… I hope you all enjoy what is to come as much as I will!