Getting the peregrine web cam has been a bit of a minefield – for a start, the photo above shows you the setup – what seems like miles of analogue audio-video cables, an analogue to digital converter and some video ‘grabbing’ software has enabled us to keep tabs on when (and if) the peregrines of Walsall’s Town Hall Tower will attempt to nest again. With a fantastic purpose-built peregrine box from the Nest Box Company, and a webcam sponsored by S&D Falconry who took part in Peregrine Watch 2012, we now have the technology to watch the progress of our birds. Today, Martin from the Wildlife Trust and I took the hardware, laptops and smartphones (to create wifi hotspots) and managed to switch on the webcam for the first time.
We aren’t at the stage yet where we can stream the camera live over the internet, as we have a few more bugs to iron out with the connection, but we can view (and record!) the birds and then upload the videos. The plan, ultimately, is to add more webcams to other parts of the tower, including the stone ledges in the very top of the tower, where the birds do a lot of plucking and eating. I guess the big question at the moment is if the birds are going to nest, and if so, will they use the box? It happens that we’ve had winds predominantly from the east and north in recent weeks, rather than our normal western wind, and as a result the birds have been seen on the west side of the tower. We are HOPING that they attempt to nest where they have in the past, but it may take some time before they are used to the nest box.
Having said all that, I’m personally hoping they stick to the west side of the tower until at least Saturday, as that will mean great views from the 4th floor of the New Art Gallery for this year’s Peregrine Watch event. If you can join us, please come along to the Gallery on Saturday from 10am-3pm (drop in anytime!) – for a close encounter with some wild birds of prey from Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre, and a chance to watch our resident wild peregrines on the tower. The event is FREE and suitable for all the family – and we have a mini bird fair taking place, with stalls from the Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and Focus Optics.
Okay, thats enough of me plugging my event, here’s a glimpse of what’s yet to come, the first video from the S&D Falconry Cam…