Wednesday 14 May 2014

BirdBoxPiCam2014: Almost time to go!

The first of our great tit chicks hatched 22 days ago, so it's almost time to go for our two remaining youngsters.

The female is still doing a great job feeding her chicks without any help.

And, even more amazingly, my Raspberry Pi powered system is still going strong.

The two chicks seem to be doing fine. I keep thinking one is less mature than the other when I catch a glimpse of those sticking out tufts of hair-like feathers, about where you would imagine the ears to be.

They are both now quite large, but still look small when they retreat to the safety of the nest cup. With a camera mounted above their heads like this one, a small change in distance from lens to subject makes a big difference to apparent size.

Both chicks have been testing their wings since the weekend. They also take a lot of care cleaning and preening them, which is natural, given there fundamental importance.

But maybe the biggest clue that they are about to leave is there movements around the box. No longer content to just sit in the nest cup all day, waiting to be fed, they take frequent strolls around the interior, and look out through the entrance, waiting eagerly for mum to appear with the next snack.

I was hoping to be at home (as I am today) when they leave the nest, but a departure today is looking less and less likely as the day wears on.

I did think about turning Motion back on, so we may have some useful captured video when they finally depart. However, I decided it would be better to stick to the better quality/higher frame rate video achieved by recording direct with Raspivid.

So over the weekend I modified my controller software to add a timed recording mode. Once set, this timer function triggers every 5.5 minutes, taking a still shot and then recording video for 5 minutes.

Where is she?

The still shot allows me to quickly go through the images and see what has happened during the day. If a bird has left the nest in a given still shot, then I know I need the play the previous video clip.

Each still + video clip is just under 20MB. So Mondays videos (8am to 8pm) occupied about 1.5GB of storage space on the SD card, which is not a problem for my 16GB card.

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