Saturday, 28 August 2010

Visitors to the Pond Waterfall 2 (Heath Robinson Strikes Again)

A chance comment from Adrian about having some sort of Infra Red detector to fire a camera got me thinking. First I spent some time searching to see if such a thing was made. Probably there is but I couldn't find one so the Heath Robinson in me had another one of those rare flashes of inspiration. Would a passive IR sensor as used for burglar alarms be any use? I had an old one kicking about so set about working out how to couple it to the camera. To cut the story short I got the IR detector to work a small relay which operates a cheap wireless camera remote control, all operated from a 12V battery.

Now the camera could be one end of the pond and the detector the other end near the pond waterfall.
350D  Passive IR

But - would the IR detector work in Sunlight? Well yes, as long as the Sun doesn't shine directly on the front of it. There are some spurious shots as it detects changes in temperature when the sunlight varies with shadows but it does seem to detect birds moving on the waterfall.

Sparrows, a Starling and a Blue Tit enjoying a bathe.

Birds at the Pond Waterfall 1

Blue Tit having a good soak.

Blue Tit at the Pond Waterfall

Splash it all over

Birds at the Pond Waterfall 3

A Wren came for a drink

Wren at the Pond Waterfall

I'm pretty sure this is the Wren taking off as it was taken soon after the previous photo.

Wren at the Pond Waterfall 2

All in all I am quite pleased with the results. The set up was in place from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.. The camera was triggered about 300 times, many of which have no bird in sight but about  40 did, usually sparrows. Most of the bathing activity was between 3.30 and 5.30 p.m. so I now know when to watch out for visitors.

This is the detector, before I put the cover back on the IR unit.
IR Detector and Transmitter
Passive IR detector taking up most of the space. Below that the relay circuit board and on the left hand side the radio transmitter. The receiver can be seen on top of the 350D in the first photo.

The system is not perfect. I am sure it misses some activity as it is difficult for the detector to pick out changes in IR heat in sunlight but it does give an opportunity to see some of the activity at the pond waterfall and see which birds make use of it.


  1. Wow professor Brainstorm eat your heart out, these are stunning pics of birdy bathing. Clever fellow

  2. Excellent results, John! Great to see all the different birds enjoying the waterpark you made for them.

  3. Thank you Captain Shagrat. I enjoy the challenge of making things do what they were never designed to do ;)

  4. Thank you Wilma. I was surprised how many different species bathed at the same time. When I first installed the waterfall I didn't expect the birds to make such use of it. They seem to like the shallow pools of gently running water.

  5. You really amaze me John. I just wouldn't know where to start lol
    Great piece of work there, and excellent results too.

  6. Thank Keith. What the camera captures is pure chance. I never know what will turn up when things are left to automation of one sort or another but it gives another window on the garden wildlife.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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