Do Not Disturb - Hides improve your chances to observe and photograph wildlife
Blending into the surroundings is essential for successful wildlife photography and observation because many animals will not visit an area if they know that a human is nearby. Although you cannot do much to thwart an animal’s keen sense of smell, you can make yourself less visible. Therefore, many wildlife aficionados use a blind to disguise their visual presence. A hide (or blind) is a structure that will conceal an observer from the wildlife being observed or photographed. A wildlife blind may be a few branches propped up to provide some cover, or camouflage netting, up to and including elaborate structures of fabric and steel such as domed tents and towers.
Some things to think about …
Although it is possible to construct a permanent hide for wildlife viewing, most of the time you will be moving your hide from one place to another. Therefore, your hide should be easily portable either in an off-road vehicle or by man power if you're to be carrying it into a location. Second, the hide should be easy and quick to set up. For example, the Kevin Keatly Dome Hide (approximately £200 for the 1.2 meter model) has two aluminium flexipoles to which you hook the ends of the fabric cover into brass eyelets at the corners. The Ameristep Doghouse Blind, (approximately £150) pops up when opened. When folded down, the entire blind is reduced to a 61cm circle that is 5cm thick.
Remember for photography and viewing, small and unobtrusive works better than large and comfortable. an in-hide TV, satellite dish and games console might not make for the best results...
Wildlife blinds come in several patterns and in white. You should select the pattern that best fits your planned use. Remember, the goal is to hide – to blend in. Many experts recommend that you set up your blind well before you plan to use it, sometimes several days or weeks before. This allows the animals and birds to become use to the sight and comfortable enough to show themselves. You can also select an initial position that is removed from your choice location. Then progressively move the blind closer to where you eventually want it to be in a process of animal desensitisation. Others set up their hide at night or when the animals are not in sight.
In recent years, large permanent hides have been built in some wildlife preserves. These buildings offer excellent viewing opportunities, but have some drawbacks also. While they are fine for seeing wildlife, they may be placed without regard for photographing angle or light source which will negatively impact the quality of your photographs. Consider these permanent structures as possibilities, but be prepared to go out on your own into the wild if the land owners allow it.