Using the hides
Once you have booked a hide, you will receive joining instructions via email. Click here for an example. 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, we will transfer you to the hides in our Toyota Landcruiser 4×4. The farm tracks are far too rough and muddy for standard cars and there are no public rights of way.
Each hide has its own page on this site. At the top of each page, there is an “At a glance” table which indicates appropriate EQV lens focal lengths for that hide. 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. For remote camera set-ups, we suggest wide-angle lenses in the range of 14mm to 24mm.
No. The hides provide excellent sightings of wildlife. 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.
Yes. The seating arrangement and windows of all our 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.
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 Downland Hide and we hope to add it to the Little Owl Hide in Summer 2017. We are using 100-140W 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. The inverters also have USB sockets for charging phones, etc.
No, not at this time. We need to observe and assess the disturbance levels first and are testing this with remote cameras. Going forward, perhaps on exclusive hire only.
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.
No. Not yet, but it is something we are considering with the aid of a satellite broadband link.
There are no toilets at the hides. Not yet anyway. There are toilets at the pub, 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. Please do not urinate or defecate around the hides! If it is an absolute emergency, then please call.
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 and we will double-check.
The hides are very well insulated. The PhotoHuts™ 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 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.
You are welcome to bring food and drink into the hides, but please take ALL litter home. I would strongly recommend finishing your food well before badgers emerge, for example, preferably with the shutters closed. 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 your own food, remember to wrap your sandwiches in clingfilm as it’s quieter than foil or paper.
Booking and payment
ProHides is open all year round. We will only be closing the hides for Christmas and New Years. The only other time the hides will close is if we have to travel and cannot find anybody to take clients across the farm to the hides. Hopefully this will be a rare occasion. At the top of each page, there is an “At a glance” table which indicates the current status for that hide. The Little Owl and Badger hides are generally open from May-September.
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 or pay with PayPal. You do not require a PayPal account for payment, just a valid debit or credit card. Payment in full is required. Unfortunately we cannot accept cash on the day. This site is SSL protected.
Yes. One of the main considerations when building ProHides was the ability to go to a single location and photograph several species. We will definitely be offering saver rates for 3+day bookings. Whilst we figure out how to do this electronically, your best move will be to email us directly and we will reply with a discount code for you to use when booking the hides online or complete the booking for you.
Every hide has its own page. At the top of the page is an “At a glance” panel and the current price is listed there. Currently prices are £150 per day/session.
It would be a huge shame and a rare occurrence. However, it is wildlife and unpredictable. We have invested considerable time and effort to ensure that when the hides are open, they are fully ready and the wildlife will be as dependable and reliable as possible. We have done our absolute utmost to provide the right location for encounters. Some experiences will inevitably be better than others. Sorry, but there are no refunds. Complimentary days are solely at my discretion.
Life can get in the way of our passion. We understand. If there is availability you can reschedule your booking, simply by getting in touch via the contact page. Please do contact us as soon as possible if you are unable to make the booking. Unfortunately we cannot accept cancellations within a week of your booking as it will be extremely difficult for us to replace your booking as short notice.
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.
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. We are offering package rates that include a day at the hides, over night accommodation and meals. For more info on the Royal Oak click on “B&B&Food” on the top menu.