Ray Turner's picture


I have just started with the BTO’s Nest Recording Scheme and what do you know the first three nests I’ve found are in low trees.

I have developed a Heath Robinson method of checking in the nest. Parts are: a lightweight extendable decorator’s pole from any of the diy stores, one wire coat hanger, a bit of insulating tape and two elastic bands plus my smart phone. Total cost (excluding the phone) £5.

I constructed a frame that holds the phone with the aid of the elastic bands and attaches to the pole. The camcorder function of the phone is started and the whole thing lifted up to see into the nest. At least that is the theory, I’m putting it into practice tomorrow so I will report back on the success (or not).

Now all I need is to figure out how to make an endoscope for the Little Owl nest hole I think I’ve found.




Ray Turner's picture

Nearly Right

Worked in principle though I underestimated the height I needed to achieve. Back to the DIY store for a three section pole.


Jonathan's picture



University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

jhn7's picture

Strange egg?

If (when) the phone falls into the nest I wonder if the birds will try to incubate it!! Seriously though a great idea. Unfortunately it won't work with my local Red Kite nest - I'd need too many poles.

Certificate in Contemporary Science (Open)

miked's picture

presumably you have checked

presumably you have checked that this does not contravene any rules about not disturbing nesting birds. i can see that your devices are trying to avoid disturbance and its for a BTO scheme however I don't know what the regulations are in this area, they can be quite strict in some aspects relating to nesting birds.

Ray Turner's picture

Right to be concerned

Absolutely right Mike. People should understand it is illegal to disturb any bird at nest (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) however by carefully following the Code of Conduct at www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nrs/coc and elaborated on in A Field Guide to Monitoring Nests (Ferguson-Lees Castell and Leech, BTO) it is possible to monitor most birds.

It should also be noted that none of my birds are Schedule 1 listed; to monitor these (they have more protection under the above act) a licence is needed.

The law can be quite subtle. For example I am allowed to touch an egg to ascertain if it is warm but I am definitely not allowed to pick it up, the later is disturbance the former is not. So please if anyone is interested in this activity please contact the BTO first. Though not essential the BTO run training courses for those interested; I’m attending one in Fife in early June.

There are I believe c800 volunteers up and down the country actively involved in nest monitoring. This can be anything from monitoring your garden nestbox to large surveys of (with the correct licence and training) important and threatened species. It is very rewarding and if nothing else develops your field craft very rapidly.