My earlier session at this hide - a new one for me - was cancelled due to the national lockdown 2, but fortunately I managed to re-book for December 10, after it had ended.
This hide, bookable through Wildlife Photography Hides, is high on the Downs near Swindon. It is operated by David White a local farmer who is also a keen photographer. To minimise disturbance you are required to be in the hide well before first light and to remain there until dusk. It is made very clear that under no ordinary circumstances are you allowed to leave the hide, as this would scare off the birds. A 600m walk in the dark up a track is required on arrival, but David was able to take my photo gear in his vehicle which he drives to the hide. This hide, like the WPH hide at Bourne, is well equipped with a heater and a toilet in a side room. It even has unlimited WIFI!
With these bookings, weeks in advance, it is pot luck over the weather and unfortunately it wasn't good at all for me with dismal light all day and some rain for a good proportion of it. The Buzzard and Kite activity started quite early and continued with birds present until 13:30 when the last flew off. Other birds included pesky Crows and Magpies, which frequently got in the way of the Buzzards, as well as the odd Raven that seemed interested but I didn't notice one land.
After 13:30 there was then nothing until dusk.
At its peak, there were four Buzzard on the ground at once tucking into the food provided with others nearby on posts.
For a gallery of all my photos from this session, go to this page on my website.
For larger versions of those shown below, click on the captions.
|Getting stuck into the food
|On one of the surrounding posts
|Buzzard in the light rain
|Head on view
As the food supply began to dwindle, some arguments started. These were challenging to capture in the dull conditions but a few are worth showing here.
|The larger and darker bird on the right is the dominant one
|Certainly bullying it here - but the subordinate one managed to fly off after a few minutes
|Sizing each other up?
Red Kites were also around, and flew past from time to time dipping down to grab some food. Just once, one came in and landed pretty close to the hide, affording a nice view:
|Close Red Kite on the ground
This place would be pretty special on a sunny winter's morning but unfortunately it now appears Covid restrictions will prevent my planned revisit in January.