The latest addition to the ProHides line-up and still a work in progress…
The resident Barn Owl pair have lived on the farm for years, 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… Nature has slowly, but most definitely, reclaimed both sites over the years, with brambles, nettles, and elder taking over.
My Barn Owl Hide is at the old 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 is perfect for sunrise, while the barn front is bathed in light in the afternoon and evening.
There’s a wealth of wildlife in the immediate vicinity. The woodshed and hide lie on 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.
Main Subject: Barn Owl
Other Subjects: Little Owl, Buzzard
Times: 4pm – 7am
Capacity: One Photographer
EQV Focal Length*: 400-600mm
Photo Opps: Portraits, flying, landing
Habitat: Derelict barn, old gate post
Position: Faces 50° North-East
Viewing: 1400x500mm, scrim, shutter
Accessibility: 10min walk, hide steps
Type of Hide: PhotoHut Mini™
*Focal Length: All ProHide sites are designed 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 lens x 1.6x crop factor = EQV 480mm
My hide, the PhotoHut Mini™, is possibly the most comfortable hide you will have ever used. It is a 1.5m³ timber hide, built to the same exacting standards as its bigger brother – fully lined, insulated, blacked-out, 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 plate and shelf).
There are two tripod-head plates, constructed from a machined aluminium block. They are perfect for mounting a tripod-head and enables you to move the camera position freely from side to side, while providing a rock-solid platform for your tripod head. A Jobu Heavy-Duty gimbal head, spare Arca-Swiss style lens plate, and allen key are always available, should you need them.
The PhotoHut Mini™ has been installed onto a 500mm high timber platform, so you can shoot at eye-level to the main gate post perch. The added benefit of the platform is that you’re shooting at a slight downward angle for the additional perches so the backgrounds are especially clean.
Barn Owl Legal Protection
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 under constant surveillance. 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 learn 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 need 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 place.
Please do contact me as soon as possible if you are unable to make your booking. I can arrange to either reschedule, offer vouchers so that you can rebook when at your convenience, or refund your payment. Unfortunately, I cannot accept cancellations within 14 days of your booking, as it will be extremely difficult to fill at short notice. Cancellations within 14 days are non-refundable. For more information, please view the ProHides Terms & Conditions.