Webcams at mybitoftheplanet - 2007



***An update on Tuesday August 21*** - Following the deaths of all four chicks on the night of 20-21 August the webcams have now been discontinued. Hopefully there will be Martins nesting here next year.


The House Martin Nests

Our three artificial House Martin nests were constucted using fibreglass as a skeleton which was then covered with a mixture of sawdust, soil  and cement. Originally put up about ten years or so ago, they were not used until 2004, when we first saw House Martins working on one of them in the middle of August. In 2005-6 they returned producing two broods each summer, and staying with us until well into September.

Last year I arranged for a cctv camera to look down into one nest from our loft, but although it gave us an opportunity to see adult birds (and their parasites!) very closely, that nest wasn't used for breeding, so this year I have carried out a major reconstruction to include cameras in all three nests.

Installation of House Martin cameras


I have created a false panel above the nests to include the cameras and their links, and which can be hinged down for access (joists in the loft prevent access from above).

A black neoprene rubber sheet acts as a seal around each lens to reduce access for the wandering parasites.


Close-up of House Martin camera position


This image give a closer view of the camera position of each nest.

Once final adjustments are complete I will be using mud to coat the rubber sheeting and to seal around the rim of the nest, as the Martins have done previously.



These are the images that the cameras provide, and which will be seen on the webcam. The camera in nest 1 has a 2.5mm lens and the other two are fitted with 2.9mm lenses. The external colour camera has a 3.6mm lens.



The Starling Boxes

Nestboxes on our houseThe main focus of the present webcam is on following the nesting of Starlings in a pair of nestboxes high on the North facing wall of my house (top-right in this picture).



Each of the nest chambers has a floor area of 17x27cm, and there is a camera in each, attached to the central partition, just over 20cm above floor level.



The cameras are EM120 Black and white cameras (on the right in this picture), chosen for their very low light level capability (0.4lux) and they have 2.9mm lenses mounted. The camera shown on the left is an EM220 colour camera. The B/W cameras have built in microphones.

Similar B/W cameras are also being installed being installed in the Swift boxes (bottom left in the first picture) and the House Martin nests at the front of the house.

I decided not to include any artificial lighting (visible or infrared) into any of these boxes so pictures will only be available during UK daylight hours, although the sensitivity of the cameras does extend viewing beyond sunrise and sunset.


The Swift Boxes

The Swift boxes are situated on the same, north-facing wall of the house, but in the north-east corner, giving prospective users a clear approach pathway. Over the previous two years there have been Swifts nesting in the loft of our neighbour's house, just a couple yards away across our shared driveway, so I am optimistic that at some point the boxes will be discovered. The entrances comply to the BTO recommendation and measure 130mm by 30mm.

Cameras in the Swift boxes

Each nest has a floor space of about 27.5x20cm..

The cameras are located above the slightly raised nesting areas, and their approximate positions are indicated by the red dots.

As with the Starling boxes, there is no additional lighting for this year.



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