Exciting HD cams in my Patch!

I have been live streaming cameras in my garden for nearly 3 years and have moved on a tremendous amount from that first nest box camera kit! Up until now, most of my cameras have been nest box-type cams that I build an outdoor housing for and mount next to feeders. These cameras are amazing and I have caught some fantastic images. All the time, I am looking for new camera angles or ways to improve what I do here. I started off knowing very little about how to go about viewing a nest box camera on my TV, let alone on the PC or live streaming! With lots of help from all sorts of great people, I have gradually learnt as I have gone along and this latest update in the garden has taken things to a whole new level!

All my cameras up until now have been analogue cameras. That is, they are just a camera and to view them on the PC or live stream them requires a computer and some software. I have done this using a PC USB adapter, which means my cameras can plug into the computer rather than just into the TV. I then use a piece of software called Media Live Encoder to convert these images for streaming. I use a streaming host and pay for this service on a yearly basis and I embed the live stream images on my website to share!

In the last year, I also started working with i-code…. a company who produce CCTV software that monitors cameras for movement and then records video footage or stills to a PC. This software works brilliantly for wildlife cameras as well and the company produce Wildlife versions of the software to buy and install on your PC. It is called i-catcher Wildlife. You can then leave the software to ‘watch’ your cameras and record whenever there is movement. This is how I capture footage like this of a tawny visiting my kestrel box. Without the i-catcher software, I would never have known this tawny had visited!

You view your cameras through the software and a timeline appears under the camera view. If there is a blip in this timeline, it means that movement was detected. The software is very sophisticated and can do all sorts of clever things… you can mask off areas, set ‘trip-lines’ and counters, use it like a timelapse and loads more! You can find out more by clicking on the image below:

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I have been looking to upgrade to some HD cameras for some time, particularly on my feeders over the winter, so I could live stream some really high quality images to my followers. This kit does not come cheap and I have been saving for this equipment, helped by my shop. A big thank you to everyone who has bought kit from my shop as all the money I make from this goes straight back into keeping all this kit running and helps me upgrade and develop the images I bring to you. Huw, from i-catcher recommended the Vivotek range of HD cameras. These are known as ‘IP’ cameras. In contrast to my analogue ones, these effectively have the software and technology inside them. Rather than having to rely on a PC to stream them, they use a Cat5 cable and have their own IP address. This means these cameras can run and stream without a PC. Their clarity is amazing and anyone who has watched my live streams over the weekend will know what a difference it makes!

I set the 2 Vivoteks up on 2 different feeding stations at opposite ends of the garden…. one outside my hub and one at the patio end of my garden. I have set it up so I can regularly change the feeders to give a different viewing experience!

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I am getting lots of visitors to these feeders and this short clip show the clarity of the live stream now! Make sure you select to watch these in HD!! The i-catcher software lets you save any clips as AVI movie files, which you can then upload onto YouTube or any video sharing platform.

The i-catcher software also allows you to play back the footage, stopping it wherever you like, moving forward one frame at a time, and then take a snapshot of what is happening. This is what I often use when I tweet images. Here are a couple taken this weekend o  the Hub feeders…

Click on the images to enlarge and comment if you wish

There will be a gradual development over the next few weeks on my website as I experiment with different set-ups and think about how I am going to bring my followers HD daytime footage on feeders, but still let them see other live streams from my analogue cameras in Clay Cavern, Squirrel Studio, the Tawny boxes, Prickly Diner, the foxes and many more! This whole process is all about experimenting and developing and I am sure it will lead to something way better than I have had before. 

I love sharing my wildlife with people not just in the UK, but all over the world! I am an active user of Twitter and if you do not use it yourself, you can follow my updates via the front page of my website. 

Do let me know how the cameras look at your end and if you have any ideas about how I can improve the experience for you, or if you would like cameras on anything in particular!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I am….. keep watching… I am hoping the bullfinches will appear very soon. If you do see them, make a note of the time and make sure you let me know, so I can play back the i-catcher footage and get some videos!