Thursday, 11 December 2014 11:00

Using a Bird Hide

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If you want to get close to your subject, using a hide will be an enormous benefit. Even with a small focal length lens you will still capture plenty of subject matter.

Spend time thinking about the best location for the hide; give consideration to the light direction and background. If a suitable perch cannot be located then it may be worth introducing one.

Take care when setting up the hide not to disturb your potential subjects.Some species are easily disturbed or nervous when a hide is placed nearby. There are several strategies that can be used to overcome this issue;

Setup in the dark or before the bird arrives. I have seen this method work with a pair of Osprey.

Start the hide at a comfortable distance from the birds and move closer over several days.

Get a second person to leave the hide. I am not sure how realistic this technique is. 

Great care must be taken when using a hide near a nest not to disturb the birds. The welfare of the birds is more important than the shot. Do not under any circumstances remove or rearrange any vegetation. If you have any doubts you should avoid photographing near an active nest.

A hide of the sort that can be sourced from an Australian supplier


 Like many techniques involved in wildlife photography patience is required. You may find that you need to spend several hours inside the hide to capture your images. To make your stay comfortable I suggest a fold-up stool/chair, food and drink.

 Portable Hides

If you search the web you will find a multitude of choices, unfortunately most of these will be available from the US. I did investigate importing a hide, but soon found that the cost of postage was extremely prohibitive. There is a supplier in Australia whose price is competitive (approx $100). These hides are spring loaded and fold up into a pack back that measures 60cm x 5cm and weighs approximately 6kg.The quality of the stitching and window zips isn’t the best, but for this price you can’t expect too much. When this hide is combined with your other camera gear I have found travelling long distances on foot to be awkward. This sort of hide erects in a matter of seconds. Dismantling and folding into the supplied backpack is again a very quick process. However because of the spring loaded nature of the hide, there is a real art to folding this hide. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it blind folded. There are some videos on you tube that may assist. 

A search of eBay and Google should locate some Australian suppliers.

Natural Hide

It may be possible to use natural features such as fallen trees and rocks etc., as a way of hiding your form, especially if you keep low.

Bag Hide

These offer the ultimate in portability as they can be folded up and carried in a small back-pack. They are excellent for sites which require a good hike to reach or where you are unlikely to spend a great deal of time setup. A search of the web should reveal some ideas in regards patterns/designs.

Permanent Hides

There are several permanent hides located at various sites around Australia. Most of these have been erected in wetlands and are mainly used by birders for making observations. I have yet to find one of this type that works well from a photographic point of view.

In future I may add a list of these hides to this article or create a new article with this information.

Recording Bird Calls

Another subject.

Read 2230 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 November 2015 11:28
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