Sunday, 17 January 2010

Getting the camera out

Warm light, warm colours too after the cold white garden of the last 4 weeks… what a treat! Early light on the coral branches of Acer palmatum Sango Kaku just shout ‘photograph me’ and this morning I did just that. Although, it was the Blue tits that visit feeders hanging from it that I really wanted to catch.

It seems like forever since I’ve last stood outside with my camera trying to capture birds visiting my garden. Peanuts were the draw for the Blue tits today. Although, as you can see in the photo below this Blue tit with a peanut in its beak wasn’t making photographing it very easy!



I waited, and waited and I wasn’t to be disappointed. I was thrilled to capture a few shots I liked. Ah… but I had a special reason for photographing this very cheeky and charismatic little bird today.




As you might expect, I haven’t been the only one out with my camera trying to capture bird shots today. Blog browsing, I spotted Mike was out with his camera too. What fantastic lighting he captured as you can see here.

Pockets and piles of snow are still scattered around my garden. Would you believe it… as this snow clears away… the weather forecasters are predicting it will clear only to return again? I'm not sure if it's coming this way. We’ll not dwell on that though… I’m loving seeing my damp winter lawn reappear for the moment :-)


So what’s this in the photo opposite? Well, my husband very kindly gave me a new camera for my camera nestbox so I we could see inside it when it’s dark. This was a Christmas present and this weekend is the first of us having a clear area of ground below the box to take it down to swap over the cameras.

The exchange didn’t quite happen as we planned though. However, we now have a very interesting outcome. Looking at the photo you can see a camera with a hole to its left.


The hole seen above is for our original camera which was attached to the roof of the nestbox.

After removing the original camera and testing out the new one in the nestbox we discovered the colours (testing with blue and green samples inside) weren’t true and therefore the expected occupants (the blue tits) wouldn’t look as they should.

With a bit of manoeuvring of wires, a new hole and the hardest part of getting the original camera roughly back where it was as it was, we now have two cameras in this nestbox. I’m hoping I’ll be able to share some interesting footage in the future. It is fascinating to be able to see the blue tit as I type this just before midnight!

Our resident rooster must have had quite a shock last night to fly to the hole on the wall to find… no hole and no nestbox. I was a bit concerned that we may have lost it but as you can see below via the new night cam it’s back in residence looking quite comfortable although not sleeping completely sound. Now, I’m guessing they don’t. I'll let you see for yourself...




I’ve heard many a question posted on forums asking if the infra red light disturbs the birds but by all accounts it appears not to. Just after I uploaded my edited video clips above I spotted our rooster moving about and doing a bit of preening.

I just had to share this too! Well, it is the first night watching :-) Note how it cleans tail feathers one at a time. I don’t believe I have seen or captured this before.



For those who can’t view videos here’s a snapshot below of our blue tit rooster in residence tonight.


Okay, it’s getting late here now and about time I tucked in for the night too. Now… I wonder what new nestbox stories I’ll be able to share by the end of the week ahead ;-)


All photos and video footage were taken garden on January 17th 2010. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

16 comments:

Midmarsh John said...

Brilliant photos of the Blue Tit on the feeder.

The video camera looks as though it is working fine. When I had a rooster last Winter it was just as fitful over night. It would wake up every now and then and have a good shiver and then tuck its head in again for a while.

My visitor had a look in the nest box again yesterday. Let's hope we are both lucky enough to have a brood to observe.

Orchids and Nature said...

An excellent blog and the Blue Tit pictures are great. What camera do you have to capture the close-ups of the birds?

shirl said...

Hi again David, thank-you! I was thrilled with my photos. What a difference some nice light makes.

I do crop my photos but the lens I used here was a Tamron one. You can see it here :-D

shirl said...

Hi there John , thank-you! I was thrilled with these shots. I was trying to get a photo of our nestbox rooster but by the markings the last one isn’t it but the middle one could be it.

You were up earlier than our rooster this morning! I was hoping to leave you a comment first about this. Ah… I wondered if you had a night cam. Previously any night shots from this box have be via torch light from an upstairs window. It will be great to compare with you but as always you will be ahead of ours by an average of two weeks.

I was wondering what cameras you use. You bought a purpose built nestcam box too didn’t you? I’d love to hear more about your set up. Have you blogged on it? Sorry, I can’t remember :-)

Its difficult picking one based on footage shown alone. We looked at specs as I’m guessing you did too. Although after seeing the footage this morning I’m not so happy with the clarity of the images from this new camera. I may consider persuading my OH (who doesn’t see daylight at home during the week) to swap it again. I’ll say nothing for a few days yet ;-)

I do wonder if our cold winter will improve chances for successful broods or it’s still down to the rain of the previous summer effecting caterpillar populations in Spring. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see :-D

Midmarsh John said...

Hello Shirl. The new camera box I bought is set up as a Robin box. The one the Blue Tit is checking out was one I adapted to add a camera. It can be seen here:

http://midmarsh.blogspot.com/2009/09/time-for-autumn-clean-out.html

You can see where I added a window each side, made from a plastic milk bottle, which should allow colour pictures but there is still not enough light so I will have to make do with black and white for now.

Getting the focus right takes a bit of fiddling. I put some screwed up newspaper to simulate a nest and focussed the camera a little higher that that.

I forget which make of camera is in that box.

shirl said...

Thanks John , an interesting read. I remember it now. I’ll link to this in the future if that’s okay with you. Yes, colour is a bonus but sometimes partial colour is more annoying and can spoil a picture.

Oh… I agree completely about the fiddle of focusing a small camera. We had a variety of issues over the weekend but we shouldn’t have believed what the manufacturer said about the new camera in this posting re focus. Lesson learned.

As you can see I’m experimenting to see what differences there are with cameras as more and more people are interested in seeing what goes on in nestboxes inspired by programmes like Springwatch. We were busy with another test yesterday too but I’ll come back to that one :-D

BTW I am really interested in following activity in your Robin box. Having a Leylandii myself I love this idea :-D

Mike said...

Lovely shots Shirls, nice eye detail and colour, they are becoming my favourite to photograph.
Looking forward to your nest box vids in spring.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It made me cold watching this little guy shiver to keep warm. I think you need to install a central heating for them. ;) This new camera will be marvelous when there is egg laying and brooding going on. Thanks so much to Husband for the new camera.

Midmarsh John said...

I have just worked out that my camera is the cheaper HandyKam one. Yours looks like the better model they sell now. I wonder which way you get the video into your computer. I know the EzCAP USB unit I use degrades the picture a bit. but it is reliable. Pictures are sharper on the external monitor.

The Robin box has shown no activity so far. I think it needs burying deeper in the bushes as I read that Robins prefer their nests to be somewhat secluded.

Linking is always OK Shirl, no need to ask.

I look forward to seeing the results of your tests. Such detail is always useful to others who may be thinking of setting up a camera nest box and real world experience is better than manufacturers best conditions demonstrations any day!

sweet bay said...

What a puffball! He looks too cold to really sleep doesn't he?

I'm jealous of your set-up! Here the bluebirds pile into the birdhouses at night for warmth and when they tumble out in the morning they remind me of an endless procession of Eskimos emerging from a tiny kayak. It would be so interesting to film them.

You got gorgeous shots of the tit on the feeder. I love the red-twigged maple too, so vibrant.

patientgardener said...

I always enjoy seeing your bird photos especially as I have wasted quite a bit of time trying to take photos of birds with my point and click

shirl said...

Thanks Mike , the eye detail in all bird photos is what draws me to selecting them even at the cost of another part of the bird being out of focus.

Your shots were brilliant. I can see why this cheeky and fast little bird could become a fav. It’s a challenge too as it doesn’t stay still long!

Thanks, fingers crossed for another year that we will have nestbox action in Spring to share :-D

shirl said...

Hi Lisa, oh, I do think she/he’ll be reasonably warm in there as the box is on a house wall. LOL… mm… perhaps a miniature hot water bottle in a cover to carpet the floor ;-)

Yes, the night cam will indeed make for a much better view of any egg laying for sure should we be lucky for this box to be used in the Spring.

Yes, a big thanks all round to OH for his patience as I pondered over which way this camera should be sited and direction it pointed… changing my mind many times :-o

shirl said...

Hi again John, yes thanks, whilst following your widget links I discovered that you had a HandyKam camera.

The new one in this box isn’t a HandyKam. I’ll tell you about it in another posting. This company is getting only one link. Our hedgehog box has the HandyKam one and I’ve been very pleased with it there :-)

Funnily enough I was considering a tech posting for Tuesday. My husband is my very able technical advisor. I just make the requests and off he searches… a good arrangement :-D Tonight he has helped me get links for you… the products I use are no longer available. I’ve had them a while now and as with all technology things move on pretty quickly.

I’ll try to answer your questions tomorrow. I haven’t written my post yet so if you have anything else you’d like to ask re videos and capture please ask and I see what I can do to answer your queries. I’ll not get too tech as I want everyone to follow the set-up. I agree completely real world experience is much better and that will vary from location to location too.

Note: when I do post on this I am picking up a previously published base post that was inserted into my menus when the revamp was done. I have a few sitting there for me to come back to and do. As yet my OH hasn’t sorted me out style programme/edit sheets so as I can’t get in there and edit the code easily myself so this seemed the best way to go for the short term. However, these planned posts do have one problem… they won’t appear in RSS feeds. I’ll try to unplublish them and republish but I’ve a feeling this won’t work. Oh well, it seemed a good idea at the time :-D

shirl said...

Hi again sweet bay, LOL… a good description! Oh but… when you see the size and build of this little bird you’ll how warm it has made itself by fluffing up feathers into a puffball :-D

Oh… I know I am very lucky with my set-up here. I’ve more to tell you about too. Tomorrow, if I have enough time I plan to post a bit on the tech side to my set-up for anyone that might be interested.

Oh… I’d love to see your bluebird parade out and in your nestboxes… sounds fun to watch. Catching this on film would be fantastic… I’d certainly enjoy seeing it!

Thanks-you, these must be the best blue tit photos I’ve captured since I began blogging. Ah… that maple is wonderful during the winter months :-D

shirl said...

Hi again Helen, thank-you I have enjoyed ‘trying’ to get better pictures over the last two years.

Oh… I’m sure you’ve captured many bird moments with your point and shoot just the same and with cropping you’ve had some nice shots. I can’t claim to be a photographer but I do enjoy the challenge… you should see the numbers of shots I delete :-o