Barn Owl Photography Hide

A work in progress… The resident Barn Owl pair have been roosting and nesting on the farm for decades, using two photogenic derelict barns that are situated a couple of fields apart – roosting in one and raising their chicks in another. I love these old ramshackle barns. The roofs are falling in, the old machinery is rusting away… Both sites have been steadily reclaimed by nature over the years, with brambles, nettles, and elder taking over. Now the barn owls call them home.

My Barn Owl Hide is situated at The Woodshed, the larger of the two barns. It’s open-faced with a southerly aspect and just about perfect for barn owls and wildlife photography! The main gate-post perch (a genuine gate post, not a prop) is perfect for sunrise, while the barn front and window are bathed in light in the afternoon and evening.

There is a wealth of wildlife in the immediate vicinity with a junction of mature hedgerows hosting a great range of birdlife and other animals that visit the site. Other wildlife you are likely to see and maybe photograph include buzzards, little owls, red fox, roe deer, and various passerines.

Update 11th July 2017: Over the past month, a Wildlife Watching Supplies® Large Dome Hide has been installed at the barn owl site for monitoring. I am planning to relocate the single-seater PhotoHut Mini™ (currently at the Little Owl site) for the barn owls. The site is being carefully monitored via several trail cameras.

The Barn Owl Hide will be open for dusk-to-dawn session, 7-days a week for £TBC fee. Enter late afternoon, stay the night, collection in the morning.

At a glance...

Current StatusClosedStar AttractionBarn Owl | Red List | Click for RSPB info
EQV Focal Length*Setup for 400-600mm (300mm lens with 1.4x converter or crop-factor camera)Photo OpportunitiesClose-up portraits and landing on authentic gate post
HabitatDerelict woodshed exterior, open fieldShooting AnglesFaces 50° North-East
Capacity1 Photographer OnlySeasonMay to August
ConnectivityGood 3G/4GFeederN/A
Viewing1400 x 500mm window, shutter, blackout curtains, scrim netAccessFlat field, potentially muddy
HidePhotoHut Mini™Price£TBC
* Focal Length: We test our setups using full-frame DSLRs and a variety of lenses. Our 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

The Barn Owl Hide

My hide, the PhotoHut Mini™,  is possibly the most comfortable hide you will have ever used – just check out the testimonials. It is a 1.5m³ timber hide, built to the same exacting standards as its bigger brother – fully lined, insulated, shutters, scrim netting, blackout curtains, very comfy height-adjustable swivel chair, rock-solid shelf for our tripod head plates or beanbags – room for a tripod if you prefer (but I recommend using the shelf).

There are two tripod-head plates, constructed from a machined metal block. They are perfect for mounting a tripod-head and enables you to move the camera position from side to side, while providing a rock-solid platform for your tripod head. These are in the hide at all times along with a Jobu gimbal head, should you forget your own – requires Arca-Swiss style plates and a spare is provided.

The PhotoHut Mini™ has been installed onto a 500mm high timber platform (steps are always there) so you can shoot at eye-level to the gate post. The added benefit of the platform is that you’re shooting at a slight downward angle into an open field, so the backgrounds are especially clean.

Now for the important bit, which I cannot emphasise strongly enough… It is absolutely critical that you remain hidden at all times and keep movement to an absolute minimum. The Barn Owl is not like the tolerant and obliging Little Owl. Any disturbance and the Barn Owl will move away to the other roost. Due to the sensitive nature of the Barn Owls, the site is monitored at all times. Please understand that there is a zero tolerance policy against leaving the hides unescorted. You will disturb the barn owls, possibly causing irreparable damage. If you are found to be out of the hide, this will be interpreted as “intentional disturbance” and you will be reported.

As Barn Owls are a Schedule I protected species, they are under regular (infra-red camera) observation to ascertain whether they are breeding or not. This is a working farm and farm traffic operates within just a few metres of the nest site and always has done. To clarify, the law concerns ‘intentional or reckless disturbance’ which is the total opposite of our intent. Nevertheless, this hide will be closed during the breeding season if they are raising young at The Woodshed. A statement from the RSPB has been included below to further clarify. I have spoken to directly with the RSPB and explained the setup and have been assured that we will be operating within the boundaries of the law.

“The barn owl is on Schedule 1 of both the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985; therefore the birds, their nests, eggs and young are fully protected at all times throughout the UK. It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb barn owls at an active nest site with eggs or young or before eggs are laid, or to disturb the dependent young. This is not normally a problem on working farms and farmers are often in the best position to ensure freedom from disturbance. The Act caters for incidental disturbance, which could not reasonably be avoided.” RSPB

Barn Owl Hide Booking

When open, the form below will take you through the live availability, booking and payment. Payment can be made directly with a valid payment card using our new  Stripe gateway, or via  PayPal. You do not require a PayPal account, just a valid debit or credit card. Simply select “Checkout as Guest”.

Upon booking, you will immediately receive a booking confirmation email – please contact me ASAP if you do not receive this. Shortly before your booking date, you will also receive full joining instructions via email, including the meeting location. Please seriously consider this booking. If you feel you cannot remain in a hide for the night, then please do not book. I will not be offering ‘evening only’ or ‘morning only’ sessions.

For lunch, dinner and hotel reservations at The Royal Oak in Bishopstone, please call 01793 790481 or email them at royaloak@helenbrowningorganics.co.uk 

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