Monday, 27 March 2017

Providing nesting material for birds

Everyone likes to be tucked up snug at night - even garden birds...  After discovering that our local birds were taking a of sheep's wool nesting material stuffed into the eaves above our 'Welly boot nest site', we wondered whether we could put it out next to our bird feeders.

The next question was 'Would it matter if it got wet'.. so we decided to setup an experiment.  One has the sheep wool under a plant pot, the other is open to the air.

These two  have been named 'Hairy Harry' and 'Woolly Willy'.  All very scientific-like.

One of our nest boxes is seeing daily activity with blue tits doing some preliminary nest-building, using a mixture of moss and ?bark slivers.  None of the wool is going here, so someone else is obviously taking it...

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

2017 Double camera Bird Box - sneaky peek

My 2017 Bird Nest Box should hopefully be up and running later this week, hopefully not too late for this season.  This version has two camera:  A 'from the side' camera which is a webcam (as described in previous posts), and a 'view from above' camera that uses as raspberry pi InfraRed (IR) camera with Infrared-cut to allow night and daytime viewing, I've added dimmable IR and non-IR led illumination.  The RPi camera does video capture via the marvelous program PikrellCam.

Test screen shots below (Microsoft LifeCam above, Raspberry Pi v2 IR cam below)

Daytime previews
Night time previews
I've also included an entrance hole counter and facility to measure ambient temperature and outside light levels.

More details to follow....

Monday, 20 March 2017

Up-cycled welly-boot bird nest site

For a kid's school project they were challenged to up-cycle a pair of wellington boots, and we came up with this:
Welly boot nest box
No cameras this time around, a low tech project, but quick to do!

We also added some old wool to the eaves for optional nesting material - this was taken within a week, not for a nest in the boot, but for some other nesting site, and was re-filled today.  The boot is tucked into a shed roof overhang.  This nesting site would probably suit a robin who are partial to open-fronted nesting sites, and hopefully don't object to the previous owner's feet.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Blue tit argument...

The bird box has been recently used as an overnight roost for a blue tit.  On a couple of occasions we've had two in there.  Today was a little different since tit 1 didn't appreciate tit 2 in the same space, as can be seen in the following clip:

It's interesting that in addition to feet and beaks being used as offensive weapons, there are a couple of hooks using a wing...

Right hook

The posturing at the beginning is also interesting:


Reminded me a bit of this

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Sunset timelapse: Raspistill vs PiCamera

There two ways (that I know of)  that the Raspberry pi camera can be triggered to take a still image, using Raspistill, or PiCamera.  PiCamera is a python interface for the Raspbery Pi camera. Raspistill can be called from the command line [or... within a python script using os.system("raspistill commend etc").

My preliminary attempts at sunrise timelapses using PiCamera have lead to over exposed skies, with all the details blown out.  This side by side comparison compares:  PiCamera (LEFT) to Raspistill (RIGHT).  

These timelapses are made from a consecutive series of alternate jpgs (PiCamera then RaspiStill) on default settings, as follows (I've left out any referenced variables to stop it getting too unwieldy):
def imagePiCamera():

 with picamera.PiCamera() as camera:

  camera.led = False
  camera.resolution = (2592, 1944)
  camera.framerate = (1, 1)
  camera.vflip = False
  camera.hflip = False
  camera.quality = 100
  camera.exposure_mode = 'auto'
  camera.awb_mode = 'auto'
  camera.image_effect = 'none'
  camera.color_effects = None
  camera.annotate_bg = True
  camera.annotate_text ='%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S')
  camera.capture(folderToSave + "/" + s_fileSerialNumber + "_PiCamera.jpg")

def imageRaspiStill():    
 os.system("raspistill -w " + str(imgWidth) + " -h " + str(imgHeight) + " -o " + str(folderToSave) + "/" + s_fileSerialNumber + "_imageRaspiStill.jpg --nopreview -awb auto") 

My take on this is that I get a better sky / sun using RaspiStill, which is a bit of a disappointment since I like being able to annotate with text (as you can see in the PiCamera version (LEFT)... which is no use in a timelapse, I just forgot to switch it off...)

For interest, the 'grouped per-method' images are make into a video as follows:
#rename files
aa=0;for i in `ls`; do sudo mv $i `printf "%04d" $aa`.jpg; aa=$(($aa+1));done
#make timelapse
avconv -r 24 -i %04d.jpg -r 24 -vcodec libx264 -crf 20 -g 15 output.mp4

I got fed up waiting for this to run on my Raspberry pi, so run it on a linux virtual machine through virtualBox on a windows PC = much faster.  The RaspPi3 will compile a 800 image timelapse in approx 30 min using this approach.  Takes me approx 1 min using the other approach.

For the comparison... A side-by-side stitch of the two sunset timelapses as follows:
ffmpeg -i timlapse_PiCamera.mp4 -i timlapse_RaspiStill.mp4 -filter_complex \
'[0:v]pad=iw*2:ih[int];[int][1:v]overlay=W/2:0[vid]' \
-map [vid] -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -preset sideBySide.mp4

Saturday, 13 February 2016

More squirrel nest building

Our squirrels are getting a bit carried away with adding shrubbery to their nest.  This one can't make its mind up what to do with them....

...that's if you can see through the cobwebs....

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Self-cleaning bird boxes

I recently acquired a new oven that is described as 'Self-cleaning'.  Looks like my bird box is too (sort of).  I've seen a lot of flies in the nest box recently.  Looks like someone else has noticed that too.....

Pay attention to the fly at the top right corner of the box....