This is a unique opportunity to photograph Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher and Water Rail naturally in their environment. The trip is due to run at the end of February 2017 ( 23rd, 24th, 25th and finishing on the 26th) It is being run as a 3 day or a 4 day trip - you have the choice. I have spent many years visiting and photographing at these particular sites so I have extensive knowledge of how to get the best images from your cameras and utilise the surroundings to your advantage. This is a brilliant time for activity for both the Sparrowhawk and the Kingfisher and the new Water Rail hide. You will also have the opportunity during the 4 days, if you wish, to make use of the Buzzard/Red Kite Hide and also the Reflection Pool ( For small birds and occasionally the Red Squirrel). If you are at the Sparrowhawk hide early enough, or stay later, you may also be treated to a visit from the Tawny Owl.
I have detailed below some information and tips so that you get the most from your visit to photograph these stunning birds. At the end of this page are details on the Cost ( Just £250 for a 4 day experience) but it is possible to add other subject matter to the experience such as Badgers in daylight at an additional cost.
All the information below should ensure that you have a great time visiting these hides. I will also be on hand to ensure that any help you require to set up and get the most from your visit will be given. I appreciate that some booking on the trip will be very competent photographers but DON'T be put off if you are a novice or new to this type of photography. I am there to help and offer advice and ensure you enjoy the experience of spending time in the company of these beautiful birds...
General Informatiion: We will be photographing out of a wooden hide that has seating for 3 photographers and ample room for your equipment. The hides are purpose built so that we offer no disturbance to the Sparrowhawk(s) that visit our site and its stunning perches. The hide is perfectly situated so that it gets great light and superb backgrounds so that you will come away with superb images. The outside of the hide is set up very much like a theatre, with the main character of course the Sparrowhawk ( male and females may visit) but ably supported by a cast of Jay and other Woodland Birds such as Blue Tit, Great Tit, Siskin, Robin, Blackbird, Pheasant, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Redpoll and many more, who are frequent visitors. I have also been in the hide when there have been visits from Tawny Owl, Buzzard and Red Kite. At the right time of year you may also be lucky enough to see the Goosander that regularly nests in a box attached to a large tree opposite the hide, and a few Red Squirrels that frequent the site. I have also been lucky enough to photograph deer that sometimes wander through the woodland at a quite close distance. The wait for "Mad Max" to come in to feed passes quite quickly as this supporting cast entertain you fully... With the Sparrowhawk, if you have the right equipment you can obtain in-flight shots as well as portrait images...
Equipment Required: I would recommend that for the Sparrowhawk you will need a lens of 300mm to 500mm to cover all flight and portrait opportunities. The bird feeders and the woodpecker post are quite close so it may also be an idea to have a 70-200mm if you have one.. I would also ensure that you bring plenty of memory cards and spare batteries as there will be lots of opportunities for images. You will require a beanbag in the hide though the shelf in the hide will also support a plate and tripod head if you have one. Only photograph from inside the hides please.
Clothing:ﾠ I would recommend warm clothing and layers. It can be chilly first thing in the morning and also as the sun goes down later in those colder months. There is a short walk of 5 minutes to the hide - over a stile, up a small incline and over rough ground and track. This can be muddy in winter so please wear appropriate shoes. If you wear bright Hawaii style clothing you will put off and disturb the wildlife so please wear suitable clothing ie darker shirts, jumpers etc.
Fitness Rating - 2/5
Other Information: There is no food at this site, and no public toilets etc so make sure you bring enough food and drink. There is no electricity in the hides. There are shops where we usually meet up so you do have the opportunity to arrive at the meeting point early enough to grab some food before we leave for the hides..
We usually meet at a point you will be notified of, in Kirkudbright, at 7.30am. Don't be late as we want to be in the hides and settled by 8.00am. As a rule we tend to leave the hides when light fades early evening. Usual hide etiquette regarding noise etc is paramount in order to give us a maximum chance of the wildlife coming to the hide. Constant noise will have an effect, as will getting in and out of the hide. Common sense prevails.