Rural webcams a surprise hit

The dawn chorus in the countryside on a lazy summer’s morning is unrivalled – and now it is not limited to those of us lucky enough to live in the thick of it. Thanks to innovative rural-dwellers, viewers from all over the globe are tuning in to the British countryside in all its splendour through rural webcams which are proving to be extremely popular.

It seems the most unexpected rural scenes are attracting the most attention: hens bustling about their daily business, or cows making the routine trip from barn to field.

A fine example is LambWatch – the live 24-hour audio and video feed shows the everyday running of a Yorkshire sheep farm. Daniel Procter – a web-developer who lives on the hill farm near Skipton, masterminded the scheme. He says that they have had people logging on from as far afield as California and Australia: ‘we have been very surprised by the interest it has generated,’ he says.

Daniel cites that the inspiration for the ‘lambcam’ came from ‘hencam’ – based just down the road in Wilsden. Hencam follows three chickens through their everyday business – and they do seem rather busy whenever you check in on them.

Procter set up his own camera for ‘LambWatch’ on a tree trunk overlooking the pasture, capturing the 36 sheep and their newborn lambs in the spring sunshine. Surprise co-stars of ‘lambwatch’ have so far included blue-tits battling against what looks to be a fearsome wind, and an unsuspecting chicken, bumbling across the grass.

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Luckily for the army of fans that Lambcam has rapidly developed, the action is not entirely seasonal – later in the year viewers can watch a traditional hay meadow being cut and in the archives gems such as the sheep being shorn, and the camera falling prey to both an angry sheep and an aggressive squirrel are highly entertaining. Procter describes it simply as ‘real farming life’, and perhaps this in itself is the key to its success – there is no pretence. Things do go wrong and not every lamb survives, but that is how it actually happens.

‘LambWatch’ is the latest in an increasing trend for documenting the everyday routines and idiosyncrasies of rural wildlife; in 2007 even a monster 44lb truckle of cheddar earnt itself a band of 1.7 million followers worldwide, as it matured before their very eyes. Web users can chose to watch an apple tree blossoming, a pair of nesting owls or a family of badgers at dusk, as well as countless other rural wonders. Lovers of the great British countryside need never be without it again – no matter where in the world you happen to be.

Some of the best… – Daniel Procter’s Yorkshire sheep farm – The busy ladies of Wilsden; Milly, Tilly and Penny. – Live foaling videos from the stud – Maisey the cow going about her daily business – Devonshire birds and badgers bustling about – A pair of barn-owls nesting

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