Virtual Wildlife Watching

Written by James Walker, Media and Communications volunteer  

We recently posted a link to the website of Michael Howland, a keen birdwatcher and photographer on the island, who has a webcam installed on a birdfeeder in his garden.  With the advent of more easily available home technology, and the popularity of television programmes such as ‘Springwatch’, more and more people are becoming amateur naturalists and photographers.  Camera traps, nest box cameras and live-link webcams are all extremely popular worldwide.

Back on the Isle of Man, we asked Michael a couple of questions about his passion for wildlife and how he got into using webcams.

Can you tell us about the origins of your interest in birds?

BirdBlueTitNestBox16

Nest box camera showing an adult Blue Tit feeding 6 young.

My wife, Pauline, is the bird watcher. My interest in the birds stems from Pauline’s, taking photographs and from the technology behind the webcams. Having spent the last 20 years of my working life with computers and communications it gives me a chance to keep up with some of the technology. We are both Manx born, and we moved to Glen Vine in 1971.

Pauline’s interest in birds started at an early age, encouraged by her late Father. My interest was to come later after we married and moved to Glen Vine and started putting bird feeders in the garden. As our two children grew up and left home we have taken a greater interest in the birds in the garden having subscribed to Manx BirdLife’s Garden Bird Watch scheme since it started. More recently with retirement and getting out and about we have tried to learn more about the birds and other wildlife on the Island.

When did you start using cameras to record wildlife in your garden?

Siskins & Goldfinches on a Feeder

Siskins & Goldfinches on a Feeder 

The feeder camera first went online January 2010. The feeder and camera came as part of a deal which also included a nest box the idea being you could swap the camera between the two which was not really practical so a year later we bought a second camera for the nest box. We were very fortunate with the nest box in 2011 no sooner had we put it up and got it online with the feeder than Blue Tits moved in eventually to nest. They laid eight eggs all of which hatched but only six of the babies survived to fledge at the beginning of June.

We have a complete diary for the nest box family, and there are some videos on YouTube. Unfortunately we’ve had no further success with the nest box although last year we upgraded the camera, and provided daytime illumination for better pictures in anticipation. Fingers crossed for this year.

We swapped the nest box camera out for the ground feeder camera as it was being used to monitor a couple of visiting hedgehogs last autumn until they stopped coming. Presumably they had gone into hibernation. The nest box will be back online shortly.

Many thanks to Michael for providing such an interesting insight into using technology to record garden wildlife.  The webcams can be reached here.

If you want to get more involved with recording wildlife in your garden, please consider joining our Garden BirdWatch scheme. You can do so by following this link here.

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MANX BIRD REPORT FOR THE WEEK ENDING 1st March 2015

Here are details of the sightings during week ending 1st March.  See here for the full list of species that have been reported this year.

During March 2015 we will be transitioning to a new way of reporting sightings. We will tell you all about it once the new sightings website is set up. Until then, please continue to send in your observations and photographs using the usual form.

 

Grey Wagtail in Bride by Paul O Donnell

Grey Wagtail in Bride by Paul O Donnell

Coal Tit at Ballakesh by Fred Hodgson

Coal Tit at Ballakesh by Fred Hodgson

Species Number Location / Details Date Observer
Black-Headed Gull 2 Pooil Vaaish 23-Feb Tim King
Black-Headed Gull 17 Point of Ayre 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Brent Goose 56 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Buzzard 1 Cringle Plantation 23-Feb Tim King
Buzzard 2 Old Castletown Road 24-Feb Tim Woakes
Buzzard 2 Dalby 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Buzzard 1 St Judes 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Canada Goose 17 Close E Kelly 25-Feb Fred Hodgson
Chough 2 Wrights Tip 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Chough 2 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Coal Tit 6 Ballakesh 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Coot 2 Smeale 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Curlew 1 Ballaghennie 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Curlew 70+ Opp Kerrowdhoo 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Curlew 35 Between Blue Point & Rue Point 28-Feb Graham Smith
Curlew 1 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Eider 6 Point of Ayre 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Eider 8 Scarlett 01-Mar Ian Rimmer
Eider 13 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Firecrest 1 Fistard 01-Mar Peter Christian
Firecrest 2 Douglas 28-Feb Stella Corlett
Goldcrest 4 Ballakesh 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Golden Plover 46 Point of Ayre 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Golden Plover 30+ Smeale Beach 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Golden Plover 50 Between Blue Point & Rue Point 28-Feb Graham Smith
Grey Wagtail 1 Bride 23-Feb Paul
Greylag goose 50+ Leodest Road 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Greylag goose 17 Close E Kelly 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Greylag goose 55 Ballacain 28-Feb Graham Smith
Hen Harrier 1 Wrights Tip 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Hen Harrier 1 Close Sartfield 25-Feb Fred Hodgson
Little Egret 1 Castletown Harbour 01-Mar Ian Rimmer
Long-tailed Tit 7 Smeale 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Moorhen 2 Smeale 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Mute Swan 3 Eairy Dam 23-Feb Tim King
Mute Swan 14 Ramsey Harbour 25-Feb Fred Hodgson
Oystercatcher 15 Smeale Beach 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Oystercatcher 46 Scarlett 01-Mar Ian Rimmer
Oystercatcher 20+ Between Blue Point & Rue Point 28-Feb Graham Smith
Oystercatcher 36 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Raven 1 Archallagan Plantation 23-Feb Tim King
Raven 2 Close Sartfield 25-Feb Fred Hodgson
Raven 4 Smeale Beach 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Redshank 3 Scarlett 01-Mar Ian Rimmer
Redshank 3 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Redwing 1 Close Sartfield 28-Feb Graham Smith
Ringed Plover 6 Point of Ayre 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Ringed Plover 7 Point of Ayre 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Ringed Plover 8 Smeale Beach 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Ringed Plover 3 Between Blue Point & Rue Point 28-Feb Graham Smith
Rock Pipit 12 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Sanderling 18 Smeale Beach 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Shelduck 4 Scarlett 01-Mar Ian Rimmer
Shelduck 8 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Sparrowhawk 1 Cringle Plantation 23-Feb Tim King
Stonechat 4 Ballaghennie 24-Feb Fred Hodgson
Stonechat 3 Point of Ayre 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Stonechat 5 Smeale 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Stonechat 3 Derbyhaven 01-Mar Graham Smith
Turnstone 10 Pooil Vaaish 23-Feb Tim King
Turnstone 12 Smeale Beach 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Whooper Swan 35 Close E Kelly 25-Feb Fred Hodgson
Whooper Swan 43 Close E Kelly 27-Feb Fred Hodgson
Whooper Swan 35 Ballacain 28-Feb Graham Smith
Wigeon 62 Scarlett 01-Mar Ian Rimmer
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Manx Ornithological Society: AGM and Vice-Chairman’s Evening

Richard Norris, Membership Secretary of the Manx Ornithological Society, sent an email to members on 27th February, with information about the AGM and Vice-Chairman’s meeting taking place tomorrow, Tuesday 3rd March 2015.

Dear Members,

A reminder that our next event is our Annual General Meeting and Vice-Chairman’s Evening on Tuesday 3rd March at 7.30 pm at Union Mills Methodist Church Hall. Once the AGM is over, our Vice-Chairman and Secretary Anne Kaye will talk about her experiences of birding and wildlife on Scottish Islands.

Part of the business of the AGM will be to elect your Officers and Committee members.  There are vacancies on the committee, so if any of you would like to help in the running of your Society, or would like to know more about what is involved, please contact Richard Selman, Anne Kaye or me as soon as possible.  

Those of you who attended our last AGM will have heard Anne announce her intention to stand down as Secretary of the Society at the end of her term of office. She is sticking to this, but is standing for re-election as Vice-Chairman.

Janet Thompson, who joined the committee as a co-opted member after the AGM last year and has worked closely with Anne on the organisation of the programme for the coming year, has been persuaded to stand for election as Secretary. When this possibility was first discussed some months ago, she made clear that a prior commitment would prevent her attending the AGM, and so you will not be able to meet her on this occasion.

The latest edition of “Peregrine” is with the printers as I write, and we hope copies will be available for purchase at the AGM. It is a bumper edition with 136 pages, and includes Manx Bird and Ringing Reports covering both 2010 and 2011, the Manx Bird List for 2014 and much else besides. The price if bought at the AGM will be only £5 (compared with £7.50 for the previous issue). Copies of the previous issue are still available, and can be snapped up for £3 if bought together with the latest issue.

Union Mills Methodist Church Hall is next to the shop on the corner where the Strang Road joins the main Douglas to Peel Road. Car parking is available behind the hall, with access from Strang Road. Tea or coffee and biscuits will be available  before the meeting (from around 7.15 pm). As always at this time of year, please check your email before setting out if the weather is so bad that you think we might have to cancel.

Thanks to members who have responded to my recent reminders about 2015 subscriptions being due, and a final nudge for those who may have overlooked their payment (£5, or £10 for couples who both wish to be members). If you have decided not to renew, please let me know, so that we can avoid unnecessary postage costs and emails. On a formal note, anybody who wishes to vote at the AGM (in the event of a contested election), must have paid their subscription before we begin. This also applies to anybody wishing to join the committee. 

 

Best wishes,

Richard Norris

If you are not a member of the Manx Ornithological Society, but would like to know more, please see the special webpage about the society here.

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