Notes on the nest, cameras, and computers

THE NEST (click to see photo) is a small window opening into the attic of the house about 9m from ground level. The opening is 49cm through the wall, 59cm wide and 49cm high (maximum).

In 2021, the opening just had an expanded polystyrene sheet closing it off (which had been put in place when the rendering was being sprayed on the outside walls in 2012!) We were puzzled when we found pieces of polystyrene on the ground outside the farmhouse front door. On 11 June 2021 the window opening was checked and four speckled kestrel eggs discovered. Later in 2021, after the kestrels had left, a double-glazed window was installed internally.

In spring 2022 the window glass was covered with board so the attic was blanked off from the nest. A wooden board was added to the window base. That board extended the nest area outwards by about 25cm (and reduced the height by 1cm). A partition to separate the inside and outside was also installed, but that hindered the kestrels flying in and out, so it was removed in 2023.

CAMERAS and COMPUTERS
FOR 2024 all the cameras, a Hikvision DS-2DE2A404IW-DE3(S6) outside, a HiLook PTZ-N2404I-DE3 and a Tapo C310, are connected using Power over Ethernet (PoE). The back of the nest was modified to make a top section a further 20cm back so the field of view of the HiLook camera, mounted on that section, could include all of the nest floor. The bottom section of the back slopes to keep the floor of the nest the same original size. The Tapo C310 is now mounted part-way along the rail and pointing outwards to cover the balcony and exterior.

The three camera outputs are recorded 24/7 on a Synology DS 218+ NAS and are streamed to YouTube using OBS Studio with NVENC encoding using a Nvidia RTX 4060 graphics card in an old 24GB i7-4771 CPU Windows 10 PC with SSD. This jAlbum website is again hosted on TMD Hosting.


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IN 2021, as the discovery of the eggs was a surprise, there were no plans for cameras. Initially I just put a standard cheap wi-fi webcam in an ice cream tub with a small hole for the lens and stood it on the nest floor. I added a second webcam on a plank looking over the top of the polystyrene. Later I replaced the ice cream tub camera with a wi-fi Tapo C100 inside a transparent plastic box, weighted to hold it in place, and also to protect the lens from squirted excretions. The jAlbum web site was on hosted on IONOS

FOR 2022 I was uncertain the kestrels would return. However I installed the unprotected Tapo C100 on one side of the nest above squirting level (although the lens did eventually get grease from the kestrel wings) and a wi-fi Tapo C200 high at the back of the nest. The Tapo cameras are fixed focus and unfortunately the Tapo C200 closest focus gave slightly out-of-focus nest images. The domain was again hosted on IONOS

FOR 2023 the cameras were an Ethernet Hikvision DS-2DE2A404IW-DE3(S6) outside, and an Ethernet Tapo C310 and the wi-fi C100 inside. Because the nest is too high to access safely from outside (without a cherry picker), the external Hikvision camera is mounted on a grooved wooden lath which slides under a metal plasterboard mounting rail so can be accessed from inside the attic. I had hoped the C310 focus would have better for the nest but there were again problems both with the closest focus distance of 0.5m and the lens wide angle coverage not enough for whole area. So the Tapo C310 was mounted at the back of the rail and pointing outwards and the C100 in front of it pointing downwards. The Youtube streaming used a 2014 Nvidia GTX 750 Ti graphics card (which was sometimes overloaded and caused streams to fail). I created a new domain on TMDHosting for the jAlbum website