|Our News Archive also includes a short history of how Wildlife Windows came into existence|
2015 has been our busiest year to date. We have installed wildlife cameras on a tower constructed specially for Peregrines at Battersea Power Station, at a Red Kite feeding station, several tern nesting rafts and a host of other bird nesting and bat roosting locations. Most of these have also required viewing systems. We have built artificial badger setts with provision for cameras,
Normally at this time of year we would be able to take a bit of time to catch-up on various 'house-keeping', and as updating our website, but this year we are still very busy with installations. We also have a lot of new projects in planning, which takes a surprising amount of time, but is critical to successful installations.
Technology moves on ever faster and we have to work out how to implement new camera types as soon as they get to the stage that they suitable for wildlife applications. Typically, CCTV security installations don't face the same constraints as we do (most of the equipment we use is designed for this market). For example, most security cameras are on buildings where mains electricity is available. In contrast, our cameras can be 1 km or more from the nearest mains supply, which is a major challenge that most security installers would struggle to overcome without increasing costs enormously by laying underground mains cables.
The most important technological advance in recent years is the gradual move from analogue to digital. In the CCTV industry this is represented by 'IP Cameras', which connect directly to computer networks and offer much high resolution images than conventional analogue cameras. These have been around for a while, but have only recently reached the point (e.g. price, size, form and performance) where they are suitable for wildlife watching. There are still bandwidth bottlenecks for live video on-line, but gradually as infrastructure improvements take place, the live pictures that nature enthusiasts are able to watch at a visitor centre or at home become ever more vibrant and realistic.
As our list of wildlife camera installations grows ever longer, we are very proud to have been involved in helping to bring people closer to wildlife, and honoured to be working at some exciting and prestigious wildlife sites. This year our list included the swift colony in Oxford where David Lack began his famous study of swifts way back in 1948. We also worked in some lovely old buildings (such as cathedral spires in Exeter and Salisbury). Yet still our favourite wildlife places are those with lots of trees or estuarine mud!
We have installed an extensive wildllife camera system in the new visitor centre at Hengistbury Head, which opened recently after major refurbishment of an old thatched barn. There are two screens, one of which will show live images from a variety of cameras, such as blue/great tit next box or peanut feeder. The other screen is a touch-screen connected to a PTZ camera overlooking the lagoon at the end of the track near the beach. Visitors will be able to operate this camera themselves via the touchscreen. There are also two cameras looking onto heron nests in the wood. These are particularly exciting, as nesting herons are great birds to watch live.
Brownsea webcam turned up what might be a world-first for any webcam earlier this month when it was used to help identify a Semi-palmated Sandpiper. This is a very rare vagrant from North America. It was held on the webcam for over an hour on 3rd September, creating possibly the first ever on-line twitch! See BoPH sightings list for details.
The Brownsea Lagoon webcam is a Birds of Poole Harbour project in collaboration with Dorset Wildlife Trust and National Trust, with help from The Sandbanks Hotel. This webcam is most remarkable for its sound, which at this time of year (spring), is dominated by raucous black-headed gulls squabbling over nesting space. During quieter times you will be able to hear more evocative sounds of Poole Harbour, such as the calls of waders.
Our favourite activities this month included two new peregrine cameras on tall buildings in Sheffield and Exeter, and two new herony cameras in Dorset and west Wales. Jason is never happier than when he's dangling on a rope somewhere very high! Preparations for the breeding season are well underway, which means we have a huge amount of work to do over the next month or two.
During the month we completed two more osprey platforms in Poole Harbour and two PTZ cameras on Brownsea Island. For the new year we have several contracts with RSPB, Bournemouth Borough Council (Hengistbury Head) and some private nature reserves. 2013 is going to be a very busy year for Wildlife Windows.
There was a long list of potential projects at the beginning of August, but then everything seemed to grind to a halt and decisions were delayed while key people are on holiday. It was a nice breathing space for us, but now that September is here, projects are being confirmed and we are planning resources to complete them all on time. This includes taking on a new employee - welcome to Olly!
We are in the final planning stages of several fairly large camera systems to be installed over the next few months. This is normally a fairly quiet time of year, when we plan ahead and build stock (e.g. nestboxes). Spring is our peak season and early planning is vital. Please contact us as soon as possible if you are considering a project that involves wildlife cameras, which you might like our help with.
Projects this month include building an underwater camera control unit. The controller needed to carry video from two cameras and provide a dimmer function to underwater lamps. The screen was removeable to enable alternatives to be used, and a buffer amp was fitted to enable video outputs to other screens, video recorders or a digital projector.
Video streams peaked this month, with kestrels, little owls and barn owls all providing some fascining viewing.
April is a frenetic months for Wildlife Windows! New installations have to be completely up and running for the start of the breeding season. Most cameras need to be in place several weeks, or even months, earlier. Demand for our video streaming started to ramp up as new cameras came on line. We had some very good sources this year, including tawny owl.
Among several other projects underway this month, we complete a wildlife camera and viewing installation for Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. The installation includes cameras for reed warblers, tree sparrows, tit boxes, as well as a PTZ IP camera, viewing and AV transmission equipment such as matrix switcher, external camera hub, 40" viewing screen, computers and vandel-proof switches with public access for camera control.
In one of our most exciting installations to date, we fit a camera at 85 feet up a tree in a heronry in Bedfordshire and transmit the images to a nearby visitor centre. Herons are the most amazing birds to watch when building their nests. See the clip on our video page.
Wildlife Windows offers a new range of video and audio streaming packages to enable wildlife cameras to be streamed live to a web page.
Wildlife Windows has a brand new website! Now we're better able to showcase the many ideas and systems we've developed over the past 8 years... to bring wildlife closer for you.
RSPB Arne fibre-optic and power cables are installed to a heathland camera hub. This will bring high quality images from various cameras installed on Arne heath back to the visitor centre viewing and switching system.
Wildlife Windows works with Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) to deliver live streamed video and sound to the DWT website. DWT designs an innovative web interface with FaceBook comments from observers of the live stream. The webcams are on kestrels and barn owls at DWT's Lorton Meadows reserve near Weymouth.
The National Trust property, Nymans, in Sussex, asks us to install a wildlife watching system to integrate with their WiFi network.
Our Cowgrove workshop is expanded to provide more office space.
The work of one of the Directors of Wildlife Windows (Brian), is featured on Springwatch. Brian has studied Nightjars in Dorset for over 20 years, using sophisticated equipment (radio tags and geolocators) to track them while in Dorset, and find out where in Africa they spend the winter.
Jason builds and installs several osprey nesting platforms around Poole Harbour. Decoy birds are placed on the platforms to encourage migrating ospreys to settle to breed in Dorset.
RSPB Reserve Wat Tyler in Essex engage Wildlife Windows to fix and extend their existing wildlife cameras, viewing and control systems. The new installation includes a secure long-distance wireless link from a PTZ camera. The link carries sound and video from the camera and PTZ commands from the reserve visitor centre.
RSPB commissions Wildlife Windows to design and install some highly innovative (and somewhat experimental) wildlife watching systems at its Radipole Lake Reserve in Weymouth, Dorset. These include hand-held bat-watching cameras, special portable video viewing and recording equipment, cameras in Bearded Tit nest boxes (wigwams) and a newly built Sand Martin wall.
Wildlife Windows installs PTZ camera on cliff at Portland Bill in Dorset. A fibre optic link is installed between the camera and a bespoke viewing and control console in the nearby Tourist Information Centre.
We move into our new workshop at Cowgrove Farm.
Wildlife Windows Ltd is formed by Jason and Brian, to continue the work of its earlier incarnations under the auspices of the Chalk & Hawks Project, for which EU and AONB funding ended in December 2006. Wildlife Windows Ltd will operate in a fully commercial environment, without the support of public funding. This will open the door to private investment, needed to help the business grow.Summer 2007
Jason records video footage from a remote camera on one of his Hobby baskets. This is probably the first time such images have been recorded on this way.History SectionDecember 2006
The Chalk & Hawks Project funding comes to an end. The project work continues while Jason and Brian consider how best to make it economically sustainable.
This summer saw a big push on badger events. Chalk & Hawks Project held its first 'Bats and Badgers Barbecue' at Bookham Farm and Jason lead a series of badger watching events for NT Kingston Lacy using cameras placed near to a sett. April 2006
Otters are captured on video by a C&H Project camera on at an old water mill in the centre of Wimborne.March 2006
Jason is contracted by Forestry Commission Scotland to visit their key wildlife sites (e.g. Eagle and Osprey nests) and produce a report with recommendation for improvements to their wildlife camera infrastructure associated visitor services. January 2006
The Chalk & Hawks Project wins additional funding from Dorset AONB to operate a wildlife camera sales and hire scheme. This carries the name 'Wildlife Windows' into the next stage of it's development.July 2005
The Chalk & Hawks Project captures video footage of badgers UNDERGROUND in the artificial sett at Bookham Farm. June 2005
Jason discovers that one of the sparrowhawk nests being monitored using our cameras has two females! Each bird has her own clutch of eggs and they share incubation. Jason will later publish this observation of polygynous sparrowhawks in British Birds.May 2005
The name 'Wildlife Windows' is first used by the C&H Project to describe our highly innovative wildlife camera scheme at NT Kingston Lacy. We employ a young biology masters graduate (Tom Martin) to help with hiring portable monitors for visitors to use to plug into cameras trained on nests around the grounds of Kingston Lacy house.July 2004
The Barn Owl Dispersal Project gets off the ground. Nine young barn owls are fitted with radio tags and are tracked by a group of C&H Project volunteers.
May - June 2004January 2004
The Chalk & Hawks Project installs the first buzzard and sparrowhawk cameras. We are working with National Trust Kingston Lacy, providing AV images and giving guided walks to their visitors.
Jason Fathers is appointed at Project Officer to the Chalk & Hawks Project. Jason and Brian will later become the founders of Wildlife Windows Ltd (in 2007).December 2003
The Chalk & Hawks Project is awarded EU Leader+ funding for 3 years. Chalk & Hawks is a wildlife tourism initiative using audio-visual technology to bring people closer to wildlife for the benefit of visitors, nature conservation and the rural economy. See www.chalkandhawks.org.uk Winter 2002
Dorset Owl and Hawk Group (DOHG) is started by two bird ringing friends, one (Brian) with a background in electronics design and ornithological research, and the other (Danny) a nature conservation professional with Dorset County Council. It is from DOHG that the Chalk & Hawks Project, and then Wildlife Windows will later evolve.
Wildlife Windows will install systems anywhere in the UK.
Working with Wildlife WindowsWe are currently looking for part-time and/or casual workers with CCTV installation experience, based in southern England.
Also we would like to hear from individuals or organisations in other parts of the UK, Ireland, Germany and US who would be interested in working with us on installations and streaming services away from our headquarters in SW England.
Please email us for further information.