Some notes on the nest

The nest 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).

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!) A kestrel had been pecking the polystyrene and we were puzzled when we found pieces 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 base was added to the nest for 2022. That 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.

In 2021, as the discovery of the eggs was a surprise, there were no plans for cameras. Initially I just put a standard cheap 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 Tapo C100 inside a weighted transparent plastic box to hold it in place and also to protect it from squirted excretions.

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 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.

For 2023 the cameras are Hikvision DS-2DE2A404IW-DE3(S6) outside, and a Tapo C310 and the 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 close focus being too far and the lens wide angle coverage not enough for whole area. So the Tapo C310 is now mounted at the back of the rail and pointing outwards and the C100 in front of it pointing downwards.

The camera outputs are being recorded 24/7 on a Synology DS 218+ NAS and are also being processed, using OBS Studio and NVENC encoding on a Nvidia GTX 750 Ti graphics card, for the live YouTube channels.