After 6 days of aggressive firefighting the NSW Rural Fire Service (& other agencies) have the big fire on Mt Canobolas, just above Orange, under control. It’s been an amazing effort to restrict the burnt area to 1666 hectares but the whole mount has gone up. Modern firefighting capability means we didn’t lost up to 6000ha as were lost back in the 1980’s. The loss of ground-based wildlife on the mountain though will be immeasurable and could well take decades to replace. It appears, based on the firemap, that the Federal Falls peregrine site (west-south-west side of mount) could have been affected, although the eyrie is situated down a rock face, but just across from some tall trees, so it may have survived the flames.
The awesome efforts by those on the ground and in the air have meant an early return for Orange to clean air again. I’m sure Xavier and Diamond are enjoying the clearer hunting grounds once more.
See the link above for the full story and some amazing video footage of the DC-10 tanker taking retardent-bombing runs at the Mount last weekend. Approximately 60-70 firefighters stayed at CSU campus accommodation for the past week. Thanks to CSU Orange Head of Campus Heather Robinson, and Terri Duffy, for their generous efforts in ensuring the firefighters had a comfortable stay!
This weekend has been a bad one for Orange and surrounds. A bushfire started (apparently deliberately) up on Mt Canobolas, which is the 1440m high group of old volcanoes above Orange. It took hold and the last 2 days have seen the sky filled with helicopters and a DC10 tanker, along with 100 fighters battling the mountainous flames. The smoke has been massive, as you can imagine, and we worry for the wildlife in the region, especially the ground life on the mountain itself. Fortunately the higher speed animals could make their escape as only the north-west, north, and eastern sides are affected, but the ground wildlife will take a massive hit. There is a known peregrine eyrie just to the west of the current western fireline, down in a deep valley. We’re hopeing the best for that eyrie. The fireys have done an amazing job, saving the TV, radio, and air traffic control infrastructure on the summit.
Diamond, Xavier and clan will be OK as the campus is on the opposite side of Orange to Mt Canobolas, but at times the smoke would’ve posed issues.
The fire continues to border on some of our vineyards, but no houses have gone yet. Will keep everyone up to date as best I can, but if you see smoke around the cameras it’s probably from about 8-10kms distant.
A climb was undertaken yesterday to re-secure the two loose hatches in the eyrie. All is (so to speak) nailed down again and safe for the peregrines to accommodate once more. It’s looking cleaner up there now too (thanks Cilla, enjoy Hawaii!).
On another note, our Project colleague of many years, Ron Green, finally retired from CSU in January and we’d like to offer a really huge thanks to Ron for his tireless work in the early Project days in building & welding equipment, as well as carting the awkward and often heavy pieces up the tower, often single-handedly. Ron built the first smaller eyrie that we installed back in 2008, along with the eves above the hatch. Ron also played a large part in carting up the more complex replacement, and bigger, box a few years later, a procedure that was heavily choreographed for the least disturbance to the peregrines. Typically, Swift, the original adult female peregrine, became curious and flew on to the outside of the ledge within seconds of receiving their domestic upgrade, but refused to enter for nigh on two hours! Ron was also instrumental in arranging the tall floor-to-roost struts (how on earth did he get those poles up the stairwell?!) to give the box a more stable platform.
The team at FalconCam Project thanks Ron for his tireless work and support over the years, and we wish him the very best of luck in his long-time-coming retirement. Please keep in touch, Ron, and you’re most welcome back any time (… to help us haul up another bag of pea gravel)!!
We’ve contacted Milestone for help in reinstalling the XProtect surveillance package. As some of you who work with computers will have experienced, sometimes the simplest of install procedures can (and inevitably will) go wrong. We’ve upgraded to the very latest version but even this refuses to install on top of a brand new Windows 7 image (the current CSU standard image). Cilla will be pleased to be away from this major hassle for a short time! Needless to say we desperately need the app installed and functional.
Response to our new, live YouTube feeds has been sensational. So far (touch-wood) the stability of the feeds has been almost perfect, although we’re yet to test continuity in the scenario of a power outage. The larger and higher definition imagery, along with sound finally, has been a real bonus and we can finally include all Android and Apple viewing devices. We were going to move the feeds over to their own channel but for the sake of continuity will leave them as they are for now. The two CSU-based camera pages will shortly be adjusted to remove the old streaming feeds & server, and include the YouTube feeds instead. Thankyou to everyone who has posted and emailed kind comments.
And now, back to the Diamond, Xavier and family………
Not that anyone ever thought that YouTube actually has real teeth but our streaming feeds hiccuped yesterday, as everyone noticed. It turned out to be an issue inside CSU’s network and not due to the storm cell that blasted through Orange the previous evening, but our good DIT contact, Ayden, fixed the problem and both streams came straight back up. Thanks again Ayden! The old streaming server is struggling without disk space but everything that could be uninstalled & removed has been, yet it’s still an issue. In a month or so we’ll drop the server off anyway, probably rebuild it, and then keep it as a spare machine, just in case.
The trials for both camera streams via YouTube Live have been nothing short of fantastic. The stability for both feeds is as good as the CSU network will allow and finally we’re able to offer true HD and audio to viewers. There’s the added bonus that now all Android and Apple devices can see the feeds too. We’ve yet to test functionality if, and when, there’s a power outage on campus but comments from new and existing subscribers have been great – thankyou to you all!! The trial period for one of the cameras runs out today and we’re just waiting on the invoice from Camstreamer to purchase the 2 licences, so if the feed stops on you, that’s probably what we’re waiting for! The older streaming server is still running until we know the new feeds are working trhe way we want them to.
Progress on the Milestone surveillance server rebuild is good; just having a few issues in getting our client software to see the cameras via the server, which is proving highly frustrating for Cilla, and time-consuming for both of us.
It’s good to see that the majority of the peregrine family is still with us, and no-one disgraced themselves over the Xmas/New Year period. With possibly a much warmer January and February on the way it will be interesting to see how much contact we’ll have with them all. Maybe we need to install air-conditioning up in the “Concrete Hilton”?! At least we know this summer weather is immeasurably better than conditions in North America right now. Our thoughts are with the poor folks struggling through the Big Chill up north. Any of our friends up in Winnipeg or thereabouts – how are you all coping?
N.B. (4th Jan, morning) – we should have the two streaming licences any time from now on; one YouTube feed trial has expired but it will be up again permanently as soon as the licences are applied. Thanks for your patience. We’ll keep the old streaming server up for another month after the YouTube feeds are established, just as a contingency, but will remove them from the camera pages to lessen confusion!
It looks like we’re finally moving in to the 21st century at FalconCam Project. Today we began trialling a new technique to get the two camera streams out to the real world, via YouTube Live. Initial tests show all systems are go, after plenty of technical work in the background. A really HUGE Xmas thanks to Ayden Beeson at CSU in Albury NSW, who completed the task of reconfiguring the cameras & switches to allow feeding to YouTube Live today. It means we can almost do away with the streaming server which has become redundant in this new config. For now we’ll leave it running until we know all’s well!
YouTube has a vastly greater capability to handle high connection loads so we should hopefully have far fewer dropouts. We will still be running 24/7 but the test will be any future campus power outage and how the streams react. We will hear from the software quickly if there’s been an issue. YouTube also means that every type of o/s e.g. Android, Apple etc, can now enjoy the live streams. We’ve also configured audio, but typically, soon as we had the ledge cam streaming, all signs of life in the eyrie flew off!!
For the temporary trial, YouTube Live feeds will be posted to the CSU camera pages ASAP. In the meantime you can connect here:
Our Axis cameras have been loaded up with a really smart piece of software from Camstreamer. It works by connecting the Axis camera directly with a streaming server and cuts out the middle man, being the encoding server. One less link in the chain to let us down. We have another 11 days of trialling before deciding one way or the other. The really big down side is the cost per camera for the app, which will clean us out. So if there’s anyone thinking of helping us out that hasn’t already, now would be a great time to join the fray!! 😉
Cilla was happy to be told today that our reliable Milestone surveillance server has been rebuilt and just needs an updated licence from Milestone to be operating again. Same server, new HDD. Over the coming months we will look at improving our disaster recovery model for this unit, which has run 24/7 for about 4 years now. We may look at moving to “SSD” drives instead of the traditional hard drives, to improve access speed and processing power. This will depend on available funds.
So, all-in-all, a successful day for the Project. Let us know your thoughts on the YouTube Live streaming capabilities. We think it’s the way to go. Thanks again to Ayden B for his awesome help today and to CSU DIT for allowing us the bandwidth to broadcast the peregrine falcons to the universe!
Apologies to all if the cameras go up and down for the next few hours. We’re running some connectivity tests in attempts to improve accessibility, so they may be up and down. I’ll advise when we’re done. Thankyou for your patience.
The other day campus experienced a really dangerous power supply “fluctuation” which almost destroyed some of our computer equipment. It wasn’t a power outage as much as it was a cycling of power, no power, power etc, which (as some may have seen before in computers) can ruin a computer for good. Basically the surveillance server won’t reboot properly so we’re going through Windows diagnostics to get it going again, but also the streaming server ran out of disk space (??), hung on a dead screen, then managed to delete the streaming app that we made! So for now the streaming is offline, and will be until we can correct the server. We’re VERY lucky our servers survived (so far) as a monster “Uninterruptible Power Supply” in the same rack blew itself up (AU$15k-18k gone!). The fluctuation wasn’t a normal situation for computers or UPS units to handle so there will be a few days of repairs and restorations. Luckier than the power pole down the road that flamed up and burnt out in the process!
When I can get the equipment all back online with some stability I’ll advise.
It’s tough enough having to leap from 50 metres up in the air, with a solid roof below you and grass a bit too far away to jump in one bound. But when you finally manage to fly away from the danger of the water tower and safely alight a branch, which you’ll call yours for a day or two, someone else already owns it. We caught a rogue fantail harassing our new fledgling, just because the branch was a bit close to the nest. And didn’t the fantail ensure our peregrine chick knew about it!
We later identified the culprit, last seen wearing a black mask and black leggings, wandering up the dirt track, still wary of the large intruder up above. The fledgling actually tried a large distracting loop around the back of the tower and back in to the trees again, but was harassed by various fantails at different points in the lap, only to find the initial culprit was still guarding the nest!
At the same time there was a peregrine disturbance down the paddock further, near the pine trees, but couldn’t quite see as the issue was hidden just behind a hillock. With the parents around the tower these two peregrine youngsters should do well this season.
A couple more video (with audio) clips here from the past 2-3 days:
Marragaay’s dinner time, without sibling interruptions (great shot of feathers)
Marragaay’s midnight feast (the new IR illuminator is working so well)
(apologies for mixing up the two descriptions and titles for the two fledgling launch videos previously; all fixed!)