Scottish Hides – 4 Day Trip

Scottish

Hides – 4 DAY TRIP

In August 2021, myself and a few friends headed over to Scotland to spend a few days in the wildlife photogrpahy hides with Alan in Kirkcudbright. The travel time is around 8 hours heading from Limeick to Kirkcudbright. It takes around 4.5 hours to get to the ferry port in Belfast and sail with StenaLine over to CairnRyan and then around 90 minutes to get to Kirkcudbright. The crossing is just over 2 hours if memory serves.

We spent three full days in the differnet hides and they were all long days but fully enjoyable. It was the first time for some of the team to see and use these others – other had been there before. The setup is second to none – Alan puts a lot of time and effort into running this setup and you can see his attention to detail in everything he does here. At the time of this trip COVID was still on everybodies mind and this was especially hard on Alan when people could not travel and he needed to keep feeding the animals. You could see he still had a very active setup going around the area once you stepped into the hides.

The first day we went to the reflection pool for the squirrel as well as the Sparrowhawk hide – the Kingfishers were not active at the time we were there. We were 5 people so we had  to split up to fit everyone in the different hides. Alan thought one of the pair was killed and was looking to see if he could find out more. That evening we headed out to the Pine Marten hide. This was a good hours drive away – late in the evening – and a late quite one in the woods. I tihnk we got home around 01:30 that morning after a no show from  the Pine Marten.

The second day we switched around and did the opposite hides to the day before and in the evening we went to get some shots of the Badgers. Then that night it was off to the Pine Marten again and some went back to the reflection pool for the squirrel – but this time it was for badger and tawny owls.

Third day we tried for a new kingfisher spot in the afternoon and some sparrowhawk in the morning and then Pine Marten in the evening . This time the Pine Marten did show but he was very fast and just appearing and disappeared very quickly. Nice to see under the lights but he did not hang around once he found the food.

All in all a great trip – always something new to shoot when visiting Alan and always good to catch up with him . Be sure to check out the gallery for the rest of the images.

 

Ballyfin Hides

Ballyfin

Hides – A DAY TRIP

In August 2021, after coming back from a trip to Scotland to Alan’s hides in Kirkcudbright, I heard about some hides a little closer to home in the woods near Ballyfin in Co. Laois. I reached out to the owner via Facebook and got a prompt reply re my questions – namely when there was time to get into the hides and also how much would it cost.

I was told that it would cost 70 euro per person per day to use the hide and hopefully get to see the Pine Marten.I agreed after chatting to Richard and organised a day and time to head up. I left limerick that morning around 06:30 and got up there for around 07:45 and met Richard and another photographrer that was using the hides for the day. We drove a few minutes to the parking area where we left the cars and walked into the hides. It was only a few minutes walk to the hide itself. Richard put out some food and showed us where everything was re the setup and then headed away.

 

The hide can be cold – even in the summer time due to the concreate construction – so it is best to have a few layers that you can adjust as you get too hot or too cold. Once the cameras were setup we sat down to wait. I used my tripod with a gimbal head and my 500mm fixed lens on it and through the other window I had a 70-200 for closer shots of the small birds at the reflection pool.

Overall it is a nice setup – I have antoher post coming showing distances from 100mm and 500mm so you know what to expect with regards to range. The steup is good and there are plenty of small birds constantly feeding in there as well as jays, magpies, crows etc. The pine marten did make a quick visit around 12:30 for around 5 minutes  – found the food that was hidden under stones etc and that the magpices had not alreadt taken – and then left again .

Below are the rest of the images from the vist – and while it was a short visit it was lovely to see a wild pine marten in natural day light during the summer. I will go back again to visit – thats for sure – and try out the other hides that Richard has in the area.

Richard has said that there was a sparrowhawk in the area and it did make a few attempts at catching some of the small birds but did not stick around any of the times it came through. The first few times it missed but on the final pass it did manage to catch a chaffinch and flew back into the woods.