New Camera set-ups for the Yew View Tawny Box

Last year I recorded the best footage that I have captured so far from the Tawny box at Yew View. I used two internal cameras and one external camera. Technology moves on and, although I had not planned on changing the set up this year, of course new cameras and better opportunities meant that I was keen to see if I could improve it even further.

I have been experimenting with some new Hikvision cameras which have been loaned to me. What I really like about a lot of these new ones is that I can control the focus and zoom via the PC. Normally, I have to get the focus spot on at set-up, which can be really difficult when you are trying to estimate where the owl is going to go in the box. You also have issues when the owlets move around and move in and out of the focal range. With the new ones, you can log onto the camera via your PC and then change the zoom and the focus. This means that the camera set up is much easier and I know I am going to be able to change it, if need be.

Last year, I had two Hikvision minidome cameras inside, at 90 degrees to each other. These did work really well and I got some great footage.

This year, I wanted to try one of the larger domes which has this remote focus functionality. The difficulty is changing the cameras when up a tree…. and quite a high tree! I had to remove the existing camera and also its housing. I then had to make a new, larger housing and then screw this back into the side of the box, mounting the camera inside.

The white square box is a light, which comes on in the day and goes off at night.

I was pleased with the image and the zoom capability which will be great for the owlets.

There has been quite a lot of activity and the female has been ‘paddling’ with her feet, checking out the substrate and suitability for nesting. I put a deep layer of rough sawdust and bark in the base.

As this camera is of a wider angle, I did not like the fact that I could see the other camera in shot. This week I decided to move that second small camera to a new position.

Last year, I wished I had been able to see the tawnies come into the box, as I would have a better chance of seeing what prey they were carrying. As they owlets grow, they take and eat the prey very quickly which meant it was often hard to see what it was.

I decided to move this camera to face the entrance. I mounted it high in the box on the diagonal opposite corner. I have ‘dressed’ the inside of the box with some weathered planks, but only what was in view of the camera. Now I had a new camera angle, I wanted to dress the inside of the entrance hole so it would look better on camera. This proved to be quite difficult and I must have been up and down the ladder about 30 times! It was like creating a jigsaw, but 30 feet up a tree!

I checked the image and was really pleased with this angle. It will give a great view of the adults as they enter the box.

I was able to check the footage via my phone app and I can’t wait to lift this footage on site when I am there next. For now, these are the stills I lifted from my phone. These will not be as good a quality as that lifted on site.

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I also have a camera on the outside of the nest box.

This will be the fourth season for this pair in this box, and with these cameras in place, I can’t wait to follow their lives again. As soon as the Internet connection speed is good enough at the site, I hope to live stream these so I can share their story.

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