Well as I was looking out of the window this morning mulling over what to write about today, I looked at the snow still sitting on the top of my hide and thought I would share my experiences of the hide with you. At the last house I lived at we were lucky that we backed up on to a line of woodland that was home to a wide range of bird species, and too many grey squirrels unfortunately. Unfortunately to get the best views for photography, I had to go past the feeding area and look back towards the house. So I needed a hide (or blind as you US guys) call them to make life easier to get the birds in and also sit down in a bit of comfort.
When I bought this hide, there was a limited choice in the UK and the prices were quite expensive. So a trip to ebay established that I could get the Ameristep hide delivered to my house for about £70 compared to the £155 or more that it was available for from UK dealers.
So why this hide? A number of reasons really. Firstly, it is constructed to be very fast to put up/put down as each side is supported by wire bands. So it pops up like a studio reflector. Well it is a bit of a wriggling octopus to put away until you have done it for a few times, so watch your face when it decides to fight back.
The great thing about this style of construction means it folds up to a very small size and goes into it's own backpack.
The pack comes complete with a small bag of eight pegs so that you can peg down each corner at the base and the corner guy lines, which you do need to use if you are leaving up for a period, as it does move about it the wind without them fitted.
In addition, there are two fibreglass poles, that are used to support the roof to avoid any puddling.
It has one large door on the back, see photo below, and then other three sides have a large zip down window that goes across the whole width, which is useful when there are two of you in it, and it is big enough for that. You can also see on the first image that there is a small port in the main window as well. When I am using it on my own, this is sized perfectly for either the 300f2.8 L or 500f4L lenses, allowing just a little panning movement.
One word of caution - they do get very warm in the summer, so dress accordingly and of course they will fade over time as the UV breaks the colours down.
There are other options of hides that are now available including from Wildlifewatching supplies and also Ultimate Nature Gear. There is usually a link for Ultimate Nature Gear in the Google ads on the right hand side of the blog, so check them out, they have an exceptionally good range from one to three person hides.
One of the very useful options in the field is a bag hide, which I bought from Kevin at Wildlife Watching Supplies. I will be making good use of this in a couple of weeks time, so I will get some pictures and do an update after that trip.
I know that Dave have set up some more permanent options in the past for photographing fox and badger so he will no doubt tell us about that some time in the future.
If you have any other great hides or blinds that you use, please drop us a reply in the comments