Little owls are back!

Well, what a rollercoaster that was!? Full-on activity since opening in mid-May… Then, suddenly… Gone! For all intents and purposes, it was like somebody had walked in and bagged them all up and vanished.

The good news, however, is that they are still there. After my initial panic… my assumption that they had gone nocturnal due to the influx of crows and rooks was correct. Thankfully! They are now back in daytime mode and feeding at the perches like nothing had happened. I am sorry I had to close the hides, but I felt it best to protect the owls from any more disturbance.

Owl-eye view! DSLR camera trap at the window to monitor activity

I reopened bookings at the weekend and the hide reopens today – giving the little owls a two respite. There are two fledgling chicks still in the farmhouse and they are only just making their way to the perches. The first flight for these fluffballs was Friday. I am assuming that the third (much more mature chick) has fledged and is now with the adult female in another roost.

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Little owl fledgling on the gate perch for the first time

It looks like we are almost fully booked with the 27th, 28th and 31st still available this month. I very much hope that the little owls will still be around in August, but you can just never tell. Last year, the owls left in early August. The year before they were around until September.

Little owl parent male and fledgling chick in the farmhouse window

Once the fledglings leave the farmhouse, I will still put out the odd portion of mealworms and see if the adults and fledglings stick around. Last year, the adults remained in the area all winter and if that is the case this year, I will keep the hide open.

Little Owls. Barn Owls. Daylight Badgers.

Missing Little Owls

It’s been a rollercoaster month at ProHides. There was a surge of activity from the Little Owls (and photographers) and the emergence of their fluffy chicks. Then, for some reason, our Little Owl family have gone AWOL. Sunday 2nd July was the last time the chicks were seen by anybody.



Obviously, I am extremely concerned for their welfare and have cancelled and refunded more than week of bookings while I assess the situation. I want the owls to have space. Besides, I will never knowingly put clients in a hide when I know there is little-to-zero chance of photographing anything.

The Little Owls had at least three chicks in the Farmhouse and were photographed by several clients before their disappearance. I have now installed a night-vision camera at the farmhouse window to monitor nocturnal activity. Hopefully, the family are still there and safe, but just keeping a low profile. Potential reasons for this abrupt change in behaviour are:

  1. Most likely… We have had an invasion of crows and rooks (hundreds even thousands!). Groups of which have repeatedly attacked the adults whilst on the perches. The owls may have switched to nocturnal habits, which they are known to do and did so last summer. There has also been a great-potted woodpecker at the feeders and these birds do not exactly get along. The food is going, so the owls are still feeding there.
  2. Less likely… The chicks have been predated by buzzards, sparrow hawks, or fox. I say less likely, as these raptors would not fly into the house and the chicks are too small to venture out. Also, all the internal doors were secure upon inspection on Monday. It’s very unlikely a fox would have been able to reach them. There was a barn owl roosting nearby, but again, they may take nestlings, but I think these chicks were too well-developed.

Beautiful Barn Owls

Potentially very good news! Over the past few months, I have been monitoring the resident barn owls and have begun making moves to open a new Barn Owl Hide. I am being extremely cautious about this! I first started monitoring the barn owls back in 2013, but was immediately put off when I found two individual photographers at the site, trespassing. It left a very bitter taste.

Going forward, if I have not met you already, potential barn owl clients could face possible ‘vetting’ via referral, or I might insist you use another hide first, so I can gauge experience and suitability for using the barn owl hide. I know it may sound extreme, but I am very protective over these owls. Nothing is set in stone, but I am mulling over various options. Feedback on this is welcomed! Whichever way it goes, I am adamant that the hide will be closed during nesting season. The site is constantly monitored with night-vision trail cameras, so I can continuously assess the situation. Note: Schedule 1 licenses only apply to the individual license holder/location and cannot be used to cover other visitors to the site.

The Barn Owl Hide will be open for dusk-to-dawn sessions, 7-days a week for £TBC fee. Enter late afternoon, stay the night, collection in the morning. There will be no ‘evening only’ or ‘morning only’ sessions.


Barmy Badgers

The hedgerow badgers have finally settled down and are now showing consistently well before sunset. Sometimes, they are incredibly early (like 6:45pm early!) and other times they emerge later at around 8:30pm. Either way, the open location of the site means you do have a very good chance of photographing them in daylight.

There seems to be one individual that is quite easily spooked, but the rest of the clan are very relaxed with the camera shutter. In fact, when I was last there with a client, we had to recreate a scene from STOMP! – tapping on the metal ark walls in a fruitless effort to get their attention and raise their heads. Looks like I probably over-achieved when designing a hide based on the noisy metal pig arks! It didn’t work, so please don’t bother trying. Just let nature take its course and eventually they raise their heads to have a sniff.

You can now photograph badgers at ground-level in natural surroundings. Meeting time is strictly 5:30pm. Open every day until mid-to-late August (until the sun starts setting earlier than 8:30pm). Evening sessions are £100. Overnight stay is recommended but optional

Little Owls: Latest Shots!

Thought I’d post a few of my shots from the most recent couple of sessions in the Little Owl Hide. Admittedly, the light was pretty damn poor and I had miserable weather, but this never deters the Little Owls. They emerge around 5:30pm in the evening (although this obviously varies) and feed regularly until passed sunset. The perches are just a few metres away and they are aligned with clear backgrounds. All you need to to do is wait for them to land and look at you! Shoot wide-open to get the most diffused backgrounds, especially if your shooting with anything less than a 400mm focal length.

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Multiple bookings now available

I’ve added a new feature to our booking form that allows you to book multiple hide sessions in sequence. A very popular combination, for example, is the badger hide in the evening of day 1, followed by the little owl hide on day 2. When you click on the new ➕ icon on the first page of the booking form, you can add a second hide. The system then looks for available sequential time slots that can accommodate all the hides chosen by you in a single visit to ProHides. Marvellous!

Little Owls are back!

After several evenings of observation, I can confirm the little owls are back in residence at the Old Farmhouse. I watched them regularly flying in (mainly the male as female is on the nest) with food and they are greeting each other on the farmhouse window. I have started feeding with live mealworms and (just like last year) they have taken to this immediately. The hide will formerly open on Monday 15th May! Follow us on Twitter @ProHides for updates…

Bookings Now Open!

It’s the 1st February and we are now accepting bookings for our renowned Little Owl hide and unique Badger PhotoArks™.

Although you can book any date, please be aware that peak season is mid-May through to the end of July. The little owls and badgers may be seen earlier in the season, but there is a greater risk of a no-show, or too little evening light – in the case of badgers. For your peace of mind, all booking payments will be held in bond, just in case the Little Owls fail to return for whatever reason. However, they haven’t missed a season in over 10 years (according to the farm), so I think we’re pretty safe. As always, activity updates will be posted here and on our Twitter feed.

Summer Bookings 2017

We will be opening bookings for our summer Little Owl and Badger hides on 1st February 2017. Now’s the time to get your preferred dates in for the Little Owl hide, as it has become extremely popular with very high demand in 2016. Both the Little Owl Hide and Badger PhotoArks will be open from mid-May and we expect activity right through to the end of July, at the very least.

The Little Owl adults become very active in spring, nesting from mid-April with the male ferrying food to the female. As a guide, last year, our first clients were in the hide from 11th May, after Richard and myself had already photographed them solidly for at least a week. Unfortunately, specific dates cannot be given at this point, for obvious reasons. We’re hoping (fingers crossed!) the Little Owls elect to nest in the old Farmhouse once again, as this provided so many wonderful photo opportunities. But, fear not. Their other historical nest sites are equally photogenic, with the old Shepherd Hut and rusty Old Barn among them.

If you’re wanting to photograph the adults looking their best, opt for dates in May and June. For the fluffy chicks, select dates from mid-June onwards. As the chicks grow and become more demanding, the adults begin to lose condition and become a little scruffy. Click here for more information.

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The cute badgers cubs are active from the very end of April, but with these hides we have to wait for sunset to be approximately 8:30pm or later, in order to provide you with a long enough session and value for money. These PhotoArks proved very popular for their short season in 2016, with everybody exclaiming on the low-angle, eye-level perspective. Adults and cubs are photographable here in open ground, with up to 8 badgers in attendance. Click here for more information.

Why not double up? Enjoy a wonderful evening with the badgers and then photograph the little owls the next day? You can stay in the PhotoArks overnight, or stay in the new Helen Browning ‘Hotel’ boasting 12 luxury rooms with their classic quirky style.

Please note: The information provided is a guide only and (as with anything wild) there are no guarantees.

New Year Buzzards

Unfortunately, due to me being largely housebound from September to November (health issues), we are well behind on the buzzard hide. It is frustrating, to say the least! The weather hasn’t been particularly favourable. These things work best when we have cold conditions and, apart from a few days here and there, it has been another very mild autumn and winter. Thank you Global Warming!

However, we are dedicated and we will persevere.

As you probably know by now, I am a bit of a perfectionist and won’t have the hide simply open on the off chance that buzzards and kites will be there. We want consistency that translates into great encounters and value for money. As well as ‘on the ground’ feeding, we are also establishing ‘tree like’ perches with beautiful diffused backgrounds. Remember, we only use naturally occurring road kill to attract buzzards and red kites. It’s a nasty job, but collecting pheasants, partridge and deer helps to keep these magnificent birds of prey off the treacherous winding lanes. I am constant competition with the ever-efficient red fox clear-up patrol…

Gift Vouchers!

I had a request this morning for a gift voucher and am astonished as to why I didn’t think of it earlier! We have a lot of requests to buy days on behalf of their friend or loved one. So, here it is. Our ProHides gift voucher. Many thanks Amanda, for the prompt! At the moment, you cannot buy this through the site, but we are working on it. For now, please just email us, or contact us through Twitter (@ProHides). All you need to do is decide how much £s you want to spend and we’ll send a secure PayPal payment request and create a gift voucher code for you, redeemable against any wildlife photography hide.


The lucky recipient of your generosity can then book the hide at their leisure and at a date to suit them, entering the gift voucher code when checking out. You can decide whether to purchase the entire value of the hide day at £150 or whatever you wish. We can even send you a tangible gift card in the post that they can actually open – at no extra cost. The voucher card (see above) is in a plain white envelope, so you can pop it in a greeting’s card. How does that sound? Good? Hope so! If it’s a Christmas gift, please get in touch soon, so we can make the post by Wednesday 21st December! Even earlier, if you wish to add the gift card to your own.

Autumn beckons for buzzards!

With the end of summer looming, our attention has already switched to the upcoming Autumn/Winter season. Essentially, this means reassigning some of the hides for birds of prey such as buzzard and red kite. For this next season, we’ll be working on three hides to bring you plenty of buzzard photo opportunities with our stunning light morph buzzards perched on gate posts, feeding on the ground, and perched in branches/boughs.

The single-seater PhotoHut Mini™ (a.k.a. Little Owl Hide) will be relocated to an area that is used by buzzards, little owl and kestrel – using gate and fence posts for perching portraits and flight shots. The large 3-seater PhotoHut™ will be geared toward some ground-feeding, but also perching on gnarly tree branches with beautifully clear backgrounds. The PhotoArks™ are already just below the traditional nest site for the pale morph buzzards and we’ll be gearing these toward ground-feeding on carrion.