Using the hides
How do we get to the hides?
Once you have booked a hide, you will receive joining instructions via email. Essentially, we will be meeting in the car park at the rear of The Royal Oak in Bishopstone (satnav postcode: SN6 8PP), at a prearranged time. From there, you will be transferred to the hides in a Toyota Landcruiser 4×4. The farm tracks are far too rough and muddy for standard cars and there are no public rights of way.
What lens should I bring?
Each hide has its own page on this site displaying a “Hide Essentials” section which indicates appropriate EQV lens focal lengths for that hide. ProHides setups are tested using full-frame DSLRs and a variety of lenses. The primary testing lenses are a 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4. If you have a crop-factor DSLR, then multiply your lens’ focal length by the crop factor. For example, 300mm x 1.6x crop factor = EQV 480mm. For remote camera set-ups, wide-angle lenses in the range of 14-24mm or 16-36mm work best allowing for greater depth-of-field and context.
I’m a beginner. Will this be too much for me?
No. The hides provide excellent photographic opportunities for wildlife for all skill levels. The distance between hide and wildlife has been tailored for focal lengths of 400mm to 600mm. A 300mm on a 1.6x crop factor camera is equivalent to 480mm. Lens hire is also available from LensesForHire.
Can I use more than one camera and lens?
Yes. The seating arrangement and windows of all the hides are spacious and wide, allowing for two camera bodies side by side. The snoots have one main opening for larger lenses, but have small side openings (closed with velcro) for 70-200, 100-400 or wide-angles lenses. You will need to bring additional support for these in the form of a beanbag or table-top tripod like a Manfrotto PIXI.
Is there power? Where can I charge my batteries?
It is always best to arrive with fully-charged batteries. The hides are in remote locations, so mains power is unavailable. Solar power is currently available in Buzzard Hide and extended to the Little Owl Hide in Summer 2017. Solar power is produced using 100W-140W monocrystalline panels connected by 20amp charge controllers. The 12V-100Ah batteries are then connected to 600W 12V to 240AC pure sine wave inverters – the best and cleanest signal to protect delicate electronics. This set-up will develop, but for now there will be some power for your chargers and USB devices.
Can I use flash?
No, not at this time. Special hides will be established for flash rigs. These need assessment for disturbance levels first. Going forward, perhaps on exclusive hire only.
Can I use a caller or sound recordings?
No. Absolutely not, under any circumstance. Please do not use any contact noises. If you are found to be using such tactics, you will be asked to leave immediately and there will be no return visit to any of our hides in the future. Please refer to the ProHides Terms and Conditions.
Is there Wi-Fi?
No. Not yet, but it is something that is being considered with the aid of a satellite broadband link.
What if I need to go to the toilet?
There are no toilets at the hides. There are toilets at The Royal Oak, but essentially you will need to pee in a bottle, whether it’s a drinks bottle (recommend Copella Apple Juice bottles as they have a wide top) or a specific product, such as the “Uriwell” or TravelJohn Disposable Urinal. Do not urinate or defecate around the hides! If it is an absolute emergency, then please call.
I’m very tall/short. Will I be able to use the hides?
The hide designs have been measured against friends, colleagues and guests from two Open Day events. Together they ranged from Hobbits to potential basketball players. The PhotoHuts™ all have a height-adjustable swivel chairs, so yes, you should be fine. The PhotoArks™ have an 8ft floor, so even the tallest can stretch out. The hatch-like opening to the PhotoArks™ is relatively narrow. If you really are concerned, please contact us.
What clothing should I wear?
The hides are very well insulated. The PhotoHuts™ and PhotoArks™ all have 40mm Celotex, rubber floors, insulation tapes around the shutters, weather bars and draught excluders on the doors. However, even summer mornings and nights can be quite cool. Plus, when you are sitting still, you may feel the chill more. Wear layers that you can apply and remove as the temperature changes – the insulation does help to maintain a comfortable ambient temperature inside. For overnight stays, bring a sleeping bag and suitable warm clothing.
Dark coloured / black clothes are always preferred as they are less likely to be noticed by an eagle-eyed raptor. Wildlife have ears too, so cottons and fleeces are best. Avoid any velcro and scratchy Gor-Tex rain jackets, for example. We also recommend thin black gloves (especially with raptors), so you can work the controls on your camera without flashing rings, for example. Try MacWet® Sports gloves or something similar.
What about food and drink? I’ll be hungry!
You are welcome to bring food and drink into the hides. If photographing badgers, finish and pack away your food before 7:00pm. Badgers remain in their burrows for an hour and just sniff the air – if they smell your ‘alien’ food, you won’t be seeing them during daylight. If you do bring food, remember to wrap with clingfilm as it’s quieter than foil or paper. Please take ALL litter home.
Booking and payment
When are you open?
ProHides is open every day, all year round, excluding Christmas and New Years. Each hide has its own page on this site displaying a “Hide Essentials” section which indicates the current status for that hide and season. The Little Owl and Badger hides are generally open from May-August. The buzzard hide is open November to April.
How do I pay for/book a hide?
Every hide has its own page and at the very bottom there is a real-time availability calendar and booking form. Simply complete this and you can pay via credit card with [icon id=”cc-stripe”] STRIPE or pay with [icon id=”paypal”] PayPal. You do not require a PayPal account for payment, just a valid debit or credit card. Payment in full is required. Unfortunately I cannot accept cash on the day. This site is SSL protected.
What are the prices?
Each hide has its own page on this site displaying a “Hide Essentials” section which indicates the current price per session.
What if I have a no-show?
It would be a huge shame and a rare occurrence. However, it is wildlife and unpredictable. I have invested considerable time and effort to ensure that when the hides are open, they are fully ready and the wildlife will be as consistent, dependable and reliable as possible. Some experiences will inevitably be better than others. Sorry, but there are no refunds. Please refer to the ProHides Terms and Conditions.
I need to cancel or postpone my booking
If there is availability you can reschedule your booking, simply by getting in touch via the contact page. Please do contact me as soon as possible if you are unable to make the booking. Unfortunately we cannot accept cancellations within 14 days of your booking as it will be extremely difficult to replace your booking at short notice. Please refer to the ProHides Terms and Conditions.
The weather is looking bad. Can I cancel or postpone?
No. It is the British Isles, we have a maritime climate and the weather is always going to be changeable and unpredictable, no matter what the Met Office says. As wildlife photographers, we understand it can be very frustrating. However, the wildlife will still show, despite poor light or rain. Please refer to the ProHides Terms and Conditions.
Is there a place to eat/accommodation nearby?
Yes. One of the best things about ProHides is that we are partnered with The Royal Oak – Pub and restaurant. In March 2017, The Royal Oak completed its 12-room B&B hotel. For more info on the The Royal Oak click on “Accommodation” on the top menu.