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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 04-07-2012, 06:04 PM
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Bird Snapping

Hello all,

As I'm sure many others were, I was inspired by the bird-related programmes that have been on TV in the recent months.

I decided to buy myself a bird table! Just a cheap old thing (£10!), but it was great seeing birds come into the garden.

However, I noticed that the bird table was most active while I was leaving for work in the mornings and didn't want to miss a new bird come to the table..

So, I wrote an application for my old mobile phone that'd take pictures of any movement and upload them to the internet for me to view at work, and left it stuck to the xexexexexexexe window. This worked great - I've not had a great variation yet - In the couple of weeks it's been running I've had mostly great tits, black birds, robins, jays and magpies. I've attached some photos for you to see.



However, the image quality wasn't too great, so I decided to get the soldering iron out and allow my camera to tell my other, better quality camera, to take photos whenever it detected anything.

I've only had it running one day, and unfortunately all I've had is one magpie at the table! However, it's taken some nice pictures of him..



Hopefully there should be some more variation over the coming days. I'd really love to get some blue tits coming to the table, and there's plenty in the area, but they don't seem to have discovered my table yet.

Unfortunately, we live in a rented house, so there's not a great deal I can do to improve the surroundings to attract new birds - also if I want to get good photos I'm limited to the positioning of the bird table (in fact, it has to stay where it is).

Are there any quick wins I can try to attract more birds to the table? I'm using finch seed at the moment which the great tits seem to like, and the bigger birds seem to enjoy the seed balls (in fact, they keep stealing them!).

I noticed that I had a flurry of activity at the table last week, but so far this week they all seem to have disappeared. I wonder if something has spooked them..
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:42 PM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toofoo View Post

So, I wrote an application for my old mobile phone that'd take pictures of any movement and upload them to the internet for me to view at work, and left it stuck to the xexexexexexexe window.


You did that ? That's amazing - I would love to have the ability to create something like that. Never mind the photos - I think you should be telling lots of WAB members what to do to achieve it with THEIR old mobiles. Inspired - truly inspired.
Hats off.
C
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Old 04-07-2012, 09:16 PM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Welcome to WAB, Toofoo. I think we're all stunned as to what you can do with 'an old mobile phone' which we (well I for one) can't do with my digital camera.

The bird table is great - you could try to attach a 'peanut feeder' to one corner, and perhaps a 'fat ball feeder' to the other, and then the larger birds couldn't just nick them.

Keep us posted and keep the pics coming.
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:14 PM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Hi Toofoo
Welcome and ... wow, that's amazing!
My birds come in fits and starts too, the last couple of days they have been going crazy over the feeders after I put out a peanut suet cake! (I'm starting to think there's something in it, they're behaving rather oddly ) you could try something like that, maybe break a few bits off and sprinkle on the table? I also put out mealworms, fruits (sultanas are popular here), crumbs, grated cheese etc. Maybe introduce a water bowl so they can drink and bath?
Good luck
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Old 04-07-2012, 10:55 PM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Welcome to WAB

If these are the pictures you're getting now, with a bit more experimenting and utilising the tips that Raindrop suggested, I can see you having a fair old hit rate, Fat & Suet balls are often the favourites, but meal worm is going to be best at this time of year

Look forward to seeing more of your shots
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:25 PM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toofoo View Post
Are there any quick wins I can try to attract more birds to the table? I'm using finch seed at the moment which the great tits seem to like, and the bigger birds seem to enjoy the seed balls (in fact, they keep stealing them!).
It's often the case that birds take a while to find or become used to a new feeder in their area, and there'll be less interest at this time of year because there's an abundance of natural food. You'll probably find that activity picks up as we progress towards autumn and young birds start exploring, but winter is the time when feeders really come into their own. Hanging feeders with peanuts, nyjer seed and/or sunflower hearts are the best way to attract tits and goldfinches, and a water supply may also attract a wider range of species.

Very interesting photographic technique, I'm sure a lot of people would like to know how you do it.

T2
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:59 AM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Very, very clever. How do you get the old phone to detect movement, do you have some sort of PIR device attached? Please tell us more.

As for feeders, try mealworm or insect suet pellets or sunflower hearts, though the pellets tend to get dominated by the bigger birds.

Cheers

Robin
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:36 AM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Hi all,

Thanks a lot for the welcome, support and advice.

I've had the camera running since about 8am this morning, yet almost nothing has come to the table - just a couple of magpies. Maybe the great tits have developed some camera shyness!

In the few minutes the magpies were there it took about 100 photos of them. Here's a couple:



I'm not much of a photographer, so still playing with the camera settings to work out how to get the best shots. These latest settings seem to allow me to avoid a lot of the motion blur I get from their fast movements, but at the same time the photos just look slightly less.. nice. I can't really describe what I'm not happy with!

If these magpies are scaring my little birds away, I might need to write some code that'll play a loud noise if it detects a magpie.

Hopefully I'll have more.. interesting.. photos to post soon

I think I'll try to get some live food over the weekend to see what effect that has.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:51 AM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinP View Post
Very, very clever. How do you get the old phone to detect movement, do you have some sort of PIR device attached? Please tell us more.

As for feeders, try mealworm or insect suet pellets or sunflower hearts, though the pellets tend to get dominated by the bigger birds.

Cheers

Robin
Hi Robin,

It's just done using the inbuilt camera on the mobile phone. For every frame, it compares the new frame to the previous frame and looks for areas of change. If it finds big enough areas of significant change, it sends a signal over my home network to a custom circuit, which in turn controls a circuit which emulates the cameras 'remote shutter'.

The motion detection is tuned to detect anything bigger than around twice the size of a fly.

Occasionally a fly will land on the window right in front of the camera which'll set it off - but it rarely happens!
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:54 AM
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Re: Bird Snapping

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toofoo View Post
If these magpies are scaring my little birds away, I might need to write some code that'll play a loud noise if it detects a magpie.
Perhaps you could download a Magpie alarm call from somewhere? Just a thought.

Another thought - how would "it" distinguish between a Magpie and a similar-sized species like Jay or Collared Dove?

T2
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