If you are one of my regular followers, you will have seen my previous blog post about the filming that took place a few weeks ago with Ellie Harrison and the Countryfile team. On Easter Sunday the show was broadcast, whilst I was away with friends up on the North Yorkshire coast. I knew it was going to be a lovely piece because the day went so smoothly and Ellie and I had plenty to talk about as there is always SO much happening at Yew View. I was thrilled with the piece and the way it had cleverly been edited. We filmed SO much (we probably had enough for the whole show!) but I knew it was going to be edited to around 6 1/2 minutes; the length given to a feature. They did incredibly well to squeeze in as much as they did, but there were loads of lovely things we also filmed that didn’t make it onto the show sadly.
If you missed the programme, it is available on iPlayer for the next month. Our bit starts at around 13.47 minutes in.
For those of you who are new followers, Yew View is a private 7 acre garden where I work one or two days a week. The owners, David and DJ, are keen wildlife watchers and have developed the garden very much with wildlife in mind. In summer 2014, they took me on to help them to see more of the wildlife they knew was visiting and to help them further enhance the site to attract, and film, as much of the wildlife as possible. Over the last year and a half I have installed everything from nest boxes to building an artificial badger sett and all of these have cameras inside. More information about the site can be gleaned from their website at www.yewview.co.uk
Since the programme, I have had lots of questions about the cameras I use and how they are set up. The system at Yew View is pretty advanced… much more sophisticated that the system I have here at home, but I will aim to explain it a little more.
With Ellie, we looked at different areas of the garden and the cameras that were installed there. All the wildlife footage you saw in the piece was filmed using the three different types of cameras we have on site.
Bushnell Trail Cameras – We use a number of Bushnell trail cameras on site. Sometimes they are used to investigate areas of the garden to see what is around. I regularly deploy them by the river, by the badger setts, along trails, tracks or anywhere where I think we may capture something interesting. I also use them to capture footage of specific species, when I know they are around, such as the kingfishers or the otters. I use the NatureView series mainly, as these have the close-up lenses that enable me to capture the pretty unique close-up kingfisher footage you saw on the show.
Analogue cameras – These cameras are small, relatively cheap cameras that you may find inside a nest box camera kit. They come with a single cable that you bring back into the house, where you can either plug it into your TV and watch it on the AV channel, or you can use an adaptor to watch it on your PC or laptop. The adaptor lets you capture stills and videos from the camera. You can also buy simple outdoor CCTV type analogue cameras that work in the same way and can be viewed on your TV or laptop. This is how I started out. The kit you saw on the show is from a great company called Gardenature and I sell a lot of their kit that I use, on my shop. I make a small cut from all the kit I sell and that helps fund the cameras you see on my website.
The great thing about these cameras is that they can be taken out of the nest box once the breeding season is over… then you can make your own mammal box and pop the camera in there instead!
IP cameras – These are more sophisticated cameras that are often used for CCTV. They are lots of different sorts ranging from under £100 to 1000s of pounds! The ones we use are high quality and some can even zoom and move around. These are known as PTZ cameras (Pan, tilt, zoom). We have 2 of these at Yew View. We also have IP cameras in our mammal box, tawny box, on the harvest mice and on the Kingfisher post and fox / badger feeding station.
As the YewView site is so big and we have so many cameras, we have a number of camera ‘hubs’ around the site. Working with the professionals at icode, they installed these for me and set up all the systems, so I could add cameras in different parts of the garden. Inside each ‘hub’ are video servers where I can plug the analogue and IP cameras. Each ‘hub’ is then cabled back to the main house and into a PC. The ‘hubs’ furthest from the house send their signals wirelessly back to the PC. The technology is incredible, but not necessary for the average garden, where just a couple of cameras could be wired back to the house.
The computer then runs a piece of software called icatcher Console. I can view each of the cameras up in the office and the cameras are all recording 24-7.
I can set each cameras up in a variety of ways, but can also playback the footage at any given time or date. This means we capture all sorts of footage!
Every week, part of my job is to look through the footage from the week and to lift off any interesting bits! David and DJ also check out cameras and note anything exciting down for me to lift and put on our YouTube Channel.
The playback function gives me a timeline, with ‘blips’ where any movement was detected. This helps me fast-forward to the interesting bits! It is impossible to look at everything and I’m sure I miss things, but it does mean we have captured some amazing wildlife moments. I have the same software at home, so I can spend a lot of time looking through footage from both sites!
Due to the huge volume of footage, I regularly have to clear the system by deleting previous footage or the hard drive would simply fill up, but it is something I always love doing and I get completely engrossed , often not leaving Yew View until quite late at night. I also often have hundreds of Bushnell clips to go through as well!
A big ‘Thank you’ to the team who do an amazing job researching, filming and editing to bring us the show each week. I am privileged to have been part of it.