What makes a good hide?

Messages
3,147
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
No
#1
I’ve bought a house on the Isle of Skye. In the garden is a “summerhouse” type thing - an insulated colourful shed with windows, power and wifi. It’s elevated and has a rather glorious view out to a tidal bay. Between the summerhouse and the bay is a marshy area with lots of reeds and rushes, and a small stream running into the sea.

There are lots of birds around. Cormorants, gannets, divers, oystercatchers, weird white ducks, terns, herons, many many finches of all types, sparrowhawks, golden and sea eagles (on a good day) lazily flap along the coast, Plus a lot more that I haven’t even tried to identify yet, especially in the reeds in summer. And otters In the bay, and deer wandering around too. Needless to say as the seasons change, the bird population changes with it - it’s all very interesting. As you can tell I’m not an expert but I will definitely be taking the opportunity to get to know the local fauna much better.

I have been thinking of converting the summerhouse into a bird hide and am wondering what the key requirements are, and whether there’s business to be made in renting such a thing on a daily basis (you can’t sleep in it). There’s a nice hotel and pub about 50 yards away. Would people pay to take advantage of a private, warm, dry, comfy and connected bird hide overlooking a “target rich” area? What are the features of the best bird hides? Any info gratefully received.

4AB7BAF6-6CA5-47CD-8697-3C479D82525D.jpeg
 
Messages
12,372
Name
Robert
Edit My Images
Yes
#4
So a beer fridge would go down well? :)
Yep, and heating :)
People will definitely pay for a hide with a plentiful supply of wildlife/birds, although the paid ones tend to be more specialist. Eg. Kingfisher, bird of prey etc
 
Last edited:
Messages
34,814
Edit My Images
No
#5
There are lots of birds around. Cormorants, gannets, divers, oystercatchers, weird white ducks, terns, herons, many many finches of all types, sparrowhawks, golden and sea eagles (on a good day) lazily flap along the coast, Plus a lot more that I haven’t even tried to identify yet, especially in the reeds in summer. And otters In the bay, and deer wandering around too. Needless to say as the seasons change, the bird population changes with it

Would people pay to take advantage of a private, warm, dry, comfy and connected bird hide overlooking a “target rich” area?
Yes people would pay, as long as they have a good chance to take good photos from the hide, it maybe a good view but is nature close enough to be worthwhile paying?
Decide on the maximum number of togs at any time, say three max ... have adequate and reasonably comfortable seating, opening windows (with camo/screen if necessary). Maybe fit good gimbals at each window.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Tobers
Messages
3,147
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
No
#6
Good point on the closeness. I guess it is 30 yards from the high water mark, but right next to the marshy area. I will have to get my long lens up there and check what sort of range we are talking about. Its a LOT closer than the very well know Kylerea otter hide which is 20 miles away.
 
Messages
34,814
Edit My Images
No
#7
Good point on the closeness. I guess it is 30 yards from the high water mark, but right next to the marshy area. I will have to get my long lens up there and check what sort of range we are talking about. Its a LOT closer than the very well know Kylerea otter hide which is 20 miles away.
Whilst checking, get some good photos for your website so that punters can see what they can expect.
 
Messages
8,803
Edit My Images
No
#8
So a beer fridge would go down well? :)
.
Yep, and heating :)
People will definitely pay for a hide with a plentiful supply of wildlife/birds, although the paid ones tend to be more specialist. Eg. Kingfisher, bird of prey etc
And a loo :)

As for the hide rental......yes ;) though IMO you will need to show a 'proof of potential' i.e. show us what you have got ?

Oh, do make the exterior more disguised by colour & look plus suitable approach path that is hidden from the wildlife zone. Thinking about where you are, rather than normal camo net over the viewing portals some hides (expensively?) have special glass and/or with bespoke portals to push the lenses through!

Best of luck with the move and venture and importantly I look forward to seeing your wildlife images from your backyard :)
 
Messages
136
Edit My Images
No
#9
As Bob says most hides are basic so your summerhouse would be a luxury. It would need to accommodate binos, telescopes and cameras through an opening rather than a window. For photography I would expect the hide to be close to the birds, for binos and scopes this is less of an issue. Would people pay, I expect so if sightings are common and provided there are not public hides nearby.

Looks like a great location.
 
Messages
34,814
Edit My Images
No
#10
There could be 'conflict' in having photographers and bird watchers sharing a hide.
Photographers need birds to be relatively close, bird watchers not so much ... a scope and loud talking go together okay, a camera/lens and loud talking do not.
Decide on your target client and if you do chose both types, think carefully about whether you will allow 'mixed' sessions.
 
OP
OP
Tobers
Messages
3,147
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
No
#11
Thanks all. Good points on the openings and the paint colour. Though it has been there for years and the wildlife doesnt seem to care. Also the access route is a good one to watch too. Currently it is in full view.

And yes, I will have to figure out some photos of my own too. Good excuse to get some practice at this birding thing.
 
Messages
4,492
Name
Dale.
Edit My Images
Yes
#16
I love my hide but this sounds like a dream.

Keep it basic but comfortable, don't skimp on room. From the pics, 2 people in that one, definately no more than 3. Consider background and light direction.

This makes me slightly jelous and I already have one.
 
Messages
8,803
Edit My Images
No
#17
That is a VERY useful website - thanks.
I think I recall reading of the Finnish hides used to photograph Bears were glazed in similar manner but did not have the portals.

PS as I see this year is likely that be one of building your wildlife photography portfolio to show what is there at each month of the year........and simultaneously developing the summerhouse into a desirable hide rental location. Thus in 2021, business to develop :)

It sounds like a wonderful location and you could potentially have a queue of TP members wanting to beat a path to your door ;)

Oh, once you feel you have everything in place (and sorry if I am teaching you how to suck eggs) get a relationship going with that hotel pub by way of linked recommendation for accommodation!

Edit
I echo @Dale. I too feel kind of jealous. Plus I agree about occupancy, avoid filling it by having too many in it. In my limited user experience of conventionally camo netted portals ideally minimum of 1metre between each camera position and raised space at the back to place kit bag and also hooks to hang coats (if you are creating a closed & heated hide?

Oh, a hide shelf for putting hide plates on.......and talking of that as folk are coming to remote location (flying up?) invest in the plates and gimbals for your clientele to use.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Tobers
Messages
3,147
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
No
#19
Amazing info, thanks all. Gimbal mounting plates sounds good. Also, I was thinking of limiting to just 2 people so you confirmed that its important not to cram folks in.
 
OP
OP
Tobers
Messages
3,147
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
No
#20
Just been talking to Mrs T. She has suggested we replace the summerhouse with a 1-bedroom posh outbuilding with bird hide capabilities built in. So you can watch the little feathered beasties from a cosy bed while having your breakfast.
 
Messages
3,597
Name
Adam
Edit My Images
Yes
#21
Thanks all. Good points on the openings and the paint colour. Though it has been there for years and the wildlife doesnt seem to care.
This is very true, a hide does not have to be a full camo hide its about how long something has been there and the wildlife being used to it which as you say they will be due to the length of time it has been there. Spend some time there looking before spending any money, also make sure it goes through all stages of tides like the current very large spring tides to ensure it does not flood, imagine spending good money on a nice conversion with bed for it to be badly flood in a storm (the fact its been there so long is doubtful but if you are not sure leave it there this year and make the most of a beautiful little cabin) start building a portfolio of wildlife you can see from there while enjoying it for yourself first :)
 
Last edited:
Messages
5,156
Name
matt
Edit My Images
Yes
#22
Guy I used as a decorator took up photography a few years ago, now he does talks at camera clubs etc, had books published and sells a lot of prints, showed me some pictures of a hide he has used. Very upmarket, fully glazed with sealed portholes, animals/birds have feed stations and alarms on the approach routes that either flash a red light in the hide or can be set to vibrate the bed. There are heaters, toilets etc facilities. He reckons the guy is very heavily booked and has hit a section of the market that was previously untapped, luxury hides, no idea what the cost is but certainly seems there's a market. The hide owner has also made sure that there are plenty of animals/birds that visit to provide photo opportunities.
 
Last edited:
Messages
8,595
Name
wayne clarke
Edit My Images
Yes
#23
Just my thoughts but 50 yeards from a pub sounds like a great idea.... except you'll have people wandering around in the summer, theres a path by the hut in the pic now, is that from you or joe public mincing around walking the dog and having a swift half?
 
Messages
627
Name
Paul
Edit My Images
No
#25
Are you asking the question to bird watchers or photographers? Bird watchers want high vantage points with grand vistas so you can see lots of different birds whereas speaking as a photographer, I want something low and close. From the single photo you've shared, your building appears to be a candidate for the former rather than the latter.

This is by far the most comprehensive report in to hide* design I've come across, and does a decent job of covering viewing vs photographing hides.
(* or blinds as Americans call them)
https://donnallong.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/us-viewing-blinds-publication-low-res.pdf

Edit: another report by Rewilding Europe.
https://rewildingeurope.com/wp-cont...ng-hides-A-practical-guide-September-2014.pdf
 
Last edited:
Messages
12,372
Name
Robert
Edit My Images
Yes
#26
Are you asking the question to bird watchers or photographers? Bird watchers want high vantage points with grand vistas so you can see lots of different birds whereas speaking as a photographer, I want something low and close. From the single photo you've shared, your building appears to be a candidate for the former rather than the latter.

This is by far the most comprehensive report in to hide* design I've come across, and does a decent job of covering viewing vs photographing hides.
(* or blinds as Americans call them)
https://donnallong.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/us-viewing-blinds-publication-low-res.pdf

Edit: another report by Rewilding Europe.
https://rewildingeurope.com/wp-cont...ng-hides-A-practical-guide-September-2014.pdf
Some great stuff there :)
 
OP
OP
Tobers
Messages
3,147
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
No
#27
Thanks very much.

Yes, I think it is much more suitable as a bird watching location than photography. What little wildlife shooting I have done has been from low down, and as close as feasible, 400mm or 500mm lens with the background all bokeh’d, and some foreground bokeh if pos. So I think maybe I need to rig up a low level hide right down by the shore for photographers. You can’t really see it from the pic but there’s a headland on the right with a nice little gap/inlet which would make a really good spot, low down, and a lot closer to the bay. Hmmmmm....
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
Messages
34,402
Name
Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
Edit My Images
Yes
#28
Not sure what planning regs are like in Scotland but here, most sheds cound as "temporary erections" so don't need any consent. Having said that, using one for any commercial purpose might be a whole different ball game (and will almost certainly need proper insurance.)
 
Messages
712
Name
John
Edit My Images
Yes
#29
Dont know if its been asked yet, but what way is the light during the day? If you are planning putting up perches for non waders etc,you need good lighting. What time of day is the light facing you (if any) If the light is coming from behind you most of the day, you have a winner straight away. Looks fantastic though (envious)
 
OP
OP
Tobers
Messages
3,147
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
No
#30
Good point. It is south east facing, so the sun rises over the mountains on the horizon in the pic and moves over to the right, so sunsets give a nicely raking light across the scene. So, backlit in the morning, sidelit in the evening.
 

nc_killie

<span class="poty">POTY (Joint) 2016</span>
Messages
732
Name
John
Edit My Images
Yes
#33
If you are serious about this possible venture and you do not know the difference between setting up as a photo or birdwatchers hide (apologies if I appear rude but based on some of the posts this is the impression I get) may I suggest that you contact some of the individuals who run 'nature trips' on Mull who may be able to advise. They may also be able to use it for some of their trips and get you on teh first rubg of teh ladder until you know what is best suited for the hide and what you want. Hope fully that is clear but if not I apologize and pm me.
Good luck, Mull is a lovely place!
 
Messages
8,803
Edit My Images
No
#34
If you are serious about this possible venture and you do not know the difference between setting up as a photo or birdwatchers hide (apologies if I appear rude but based on some of the posts this is the impression I get) may I suggest that you contact some of the individuals who run 'nature trips' on Mull who may be able to advise. They may also be able to use it for some of their trips and get you on teh first rubg of teh ladder until you know what is best suited for the hide and what you want. Hope fully that is clear but if not I apologize and pm me.
Good luck, Mull is a lovely place!
Aren't Skye and Mull a bit far apart for the sort of sharing (a good idea IMO) you are talking about?
 

nc_killie

<span class="poty">POTY (Joint) 2016</span>
Messages
732
Name
John
Edit My Images
Yes
#35
Aren't Skye and Mull a bit far apart for the sort of sharing (a good idea IMO) you are talking about?
.......that is the problem with having too much Islay whisky! Apologies all - i will need another dram, and its only Monday!
 
OP
OP
Tobers
Messages
3,147
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
No
#36
If you are serious about this possible venture and you do not know the difference between setting up as a photo or birdwatchers hide (apologies if I appear rude but based on some of the posts this is the impression I get) may I suggest that you contact some of the individuals who run 'nature trips'...
No problem - this post is all about starting my research to find out if it is worth progressing with setting up a “luxo-hide”. Getting feedback directly from experienced people is top of my list to do. Thanks for the steer.
 
Messages
12,372
Name
Robert
Edit My Images
Yes
#37
I'm on Skye in May and have used a few hides in the past.
Happy to pop by and have a look if it helps....:)
 
Top