Well, that’s a good start!

Yup, you guessed it!  After all that bravado about not needing any help, I went into work the next day and couldn’t find the email with details of how to input video into my blog..  Only one thing for it – and I quickly called for help (from the other side of the world!) and was duly rewarded with my friendly website expert coming to the rescue  (thanks again for that!)..

Male Great Tit leaving the 'shed box'

This post then, will (fingers crossed) be all about the cameras on a couple of nestboxes in the garden..

Firstly, I should introduce the boxes.  I’m not too sure exactly how a box should be introduced as it’s not something that you do every day – so I’ll just give you some brief details for now.  You can always ask questions later!

The tit box started life on a tree at the end of the garden, and a pair of great tits took it on in the first year. 

The box that started it all... and before I got my good camera!

That Christmas, my wife made the mistake of buying me a wildlife camera system!  I embarked on a plan to watch the birds nesting that spring and made a box complete with camera, siting it on the shed for ease of getting power to it.  That worked well enough, but I wanted better (as you do!).  This year, I constructed a much wider box, with a sloping internal floor – so that I could get images from the side rather than above.  It took a while for the birds to decide to give it a go -probably put off by the amount of moss required to turn it into a nest!  The results are pretty good though, at least I think they are..

I don’t think they have got very long left before they all fly the nest, and my wife can have her garden shed back – and not have to worry about letting the door swing open too much, or make too much noise while she’s pottering around the garden!

The female Great tit, when she was considering her mortgage options

Before I go on, you might be wondering why I said it was a mistake for my wife to get me a camera system for Christmas?  Well, mistake is quite obviously the wrong word of course as it’s been the source of many, many, many hours of enjoyment as I tinker with settings, angles and cables.  It’s also been the source of much angst as well I should add, when the camera signal goes down, when I decide to start again with a new box ( see the starling box for details!) and even when the birds don’t seem too interested in what I consider to be an absolute des res nestbox! Next year, I’ll have a play with lighting to see if I can get colour images.  These are all infra-red lit, so appear as black and white -if that make sense?

The birds seem to like it as well.  Last year they managed to raise two young, this year we have seven which is good going considering the weather conditions we’ve had.

The other box is the starling box, which has had a colourful time of it to say the least!   It started as a large, deep, tit box – and as such the starlings ignored it and the great tits had a look instead..  They realised it would take even more moss to fill than the shed one so quickly decided against it!   I then decided it needed drastic action – so that box came down and was replaced by a much wider box.  Within days, a female starling came in for a look around and stayed for two nights – before disappearing.  I guess it was either a tragic end at the beak of the local sparrowhawk, or she decided aginst the box that I had spent many hours perfecting.  Must have been the sparrowhawk then!

The Starling box. Who wouldn't want to live there?

Nothing happened for weeks that seemed like months..  Then, earlier this week I saw a starling fly away from the box!  Switching the video stream to that box, I was chuffed to see a female starling in the box that evening!  She has been around ever since, and spends literally hours sat on the floor of the box, or balancing on one leg. 

I’m not sure she has a mate, although a male has stuck his head into the box a couple of times – though he doesn’t hang around.  Pity, because it was the song that I really wanted to capture on my video – and that doesn’t seem too likely at the moment.

I do have a fair few other cameras, the last count came in at around about 7..  As the summer progresses I usually put one out in the garden, which surprised us by coming up trumps with 3 hedgehogs in one night last year!

So, now you’ve seen the nestboxes and seen some of the video, so I can keep you updated on how things progress.  I now have my fingers crossed that the Great tits don’t go in the morning, as we have a family BBQ and it would be great to be able to share the images live on the TV – especially if the cricket doesn’t pick up a bit by then!

The next post will follow on soon, I hope.  I had a day off work, so went to Brownsea Island -with some interesting results!  Come back later to read more…

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