SRUC Elmwood Countryside Management Student: bird watching project
As a student on the NC Countryside Management course, one of the things I was looking forward to was being able to get stuck in with the practical elements. While the practicals haven’t turned out the way that I expected due to current circumstances, I am really enjoying the alternatives that our lecturers have come up with.
One such project is to observe the birds in our garden and create a journal based on our observations. This lined up nicely with the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, an annual public count of garden bird populations. One of the best things about this project is that I’ve found I have a genuine passion for capturing kooky bird photos, observing the behaviours of the different species, and figuring out new ways to attract and capture the visitors to my garden.
I sat on my doorstep for an hour on January 30th to observe the birds that visited my garden, my results that were recorded for the RSPB can be seen above. To get a better look at the birds in my garden, I was setting up my phone on yoga blocks on my lawn to catch the ground feeder, a video recorder to catch the birds at the hanging feeder, and a DSLR that could record for 20 minutes to catch the birds at the trays on my stairs. As you can imagine this was a bit cumbersome and often discouraged the birds from showing. If, like me, you want to have a better way to observe the birds in your garden without having to be physically present and disturbing them, my next project might be of interest.
I found a website called MyNaturewatch which gives instructions on how to build your own wildlife camera using a few simple components (some of which you might have lying around). It doesn’t take long to set up and the programming side is already pre-set for you, all you have to do is download it.
This is called a Raspberry Pi, and attached is a small camera. Using a micro SD card that is loaded with the software, this is all you need to create a working wildlife camera that you can put anywhere in your garden to capture any visitors without disturbing them.
I attached my Raspberry Pi and camera to a piece of cardboard (pizza box from the takeaway worked a treat!). I then drilled a hole in my container and put all the components inside. Side note: I did this part horribly wrong. The hole is too close to the lid and the cables poked above the top. If you’re doing similar, double and triple check where you want everything to go before you make any holes!
The end results were great though. If you’re a budding wildlife photographer, this is great project for seeing what might be in your garden – or even a local woodland (just make sure your camera is secure and well hidden). Below are some of my favourite pictures I’ve taken since starting this project.