Sunday 13 February 2011

Pimp my hide

Hampshire Wildlife Trust have done such a great job of demonstrating how restoration of old mineral workings can benefit wildlife at Blashford Lakes that it seems churlish to criticise - but the choice of fixed windows covered with tinted film for two of their showcase hides is a puzzler. The effect is like trying to watch birds through the window of a pimp's limo. Only two small windows at the extremes of each hide actually open, but unlike a limo where the papparazzi crowd around them trying to peek in, anyone wanting a decent view has to huddle around these trying to see out. If you can cope with queuing patiently, it's worth it for the excellent views of Brambling, Siskin and Redpoll as well as commoner species which attend the well stocked feeders.

The only reason I can think of would be a misguided attempt to stop photographers 'hogging' the view but on the evidence of yesterday, (a) this doesn't necessarily work and (b) it just leads to poor views and frustration for everyone. A bittern showing from the Ivy North hide illustrated the problem nicely - being south facing, you had to factor glare and reflections in to your attempt to see one of our most elusive birds hiding in a reedbed. The other hide, deep in dark woodland, hardly needs tinted glass, and the birds seem unperturbed by the open windows, so disturbance, the only other reason I can think of for fixed windows, wouldn't appear to be a risk. Anyway, rant over, I enjoyed my 10 minute ration of good views and photo opportunities before making way for others, and the woodland walk to a cacophony of calling finches was very impressive. The hides aren't the only place to take good photos either - these Siskins were taken just wandering around near the car park.

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