The Curse of the Photographer (How Not to Behave in a Hide)

This morning I decided to spend a couple of hours at Coate Water. First was a look at the flood water field just to check if it was still dry. It was. Plenty of Swallows here, busily upping their fat reserves for the long journey south. I then headed to the second hide. BIG MISTAKE. I think birding in the middle of Tesco would have been more pleasant as the hide was full of photographers hoping to get yet more photos of the Kingfishers. After listening to fifteen minutes of loud continuous conversations about double glazing, asbestos, football and cable tv I decided to give it up as a bad job. Also the fact that there were at least three large lenses sticking out of the hide could not have helped encourage birds to the area. Maybe they were intended as more spots for the Kingfisher to land. To be fair birds were mentioned at least twice in this time, once when a Grebe caught a fish. Trouble was it was inconsiderate enough to do it out of range of a decent picture so was then ignored. Would any these people have noticed a Black Tern amongst the dozen or more Commons? To be honest they would only have noticed the Oriana sail by if it had passed between the hide and the last stick the Kingfisher had perched on! Next for me was a stop at the first hide. There were only four people here which was a little better until one of them decided it was a good time to walk out in front of the hide to replenish the feeders. Really!! Now don’t get me wrong,  I appreciate that the hides here and elsewhere are for all to use and enjoy. Also I know many of these people and they are all great folk (and many improvements have been made to the hides at their own expense). However it would be nice if people would remember some of the basic rules of Hide Etiquette the main one being;

Keep quiet: No matter how cheery you may be in real life, it must be emphasized that the inside of the hide is another world. This is no place for conversation even if it does start to rain and the viewing area happens to be as devoid of birds as the dark side of the moon. 

Obviously no-one expects total silence but please consider other people, especially if you are one of those who spends hours there. Many others have limited time and will be upset if there visit is spoilt. Check this subject out on the web, there are many many discussions about it.

10 responses to “The Curse of the Photographer (How Not to Behave in a Hide)

  1. WiltshireBirder, please don’t classify all photographers in the same mould as some of those the you saw today, I happened to be one of those you saw in Hide one, not the one stocking the feeders I hasten to say. I was prior to that at hide 2 hoping for a quiet morning knowing that some may be at the bird fair how wrong I was it was so crowded and noisy didn’t stay long. Three weeks ago I went to hide 2 on a Sunday morning only one person in there nice and quiet, this was soon end when two others came and proceeded to hang netting across the openings so I couldn’t see anything with my binoculars this was followed by then going outside beating down vegetation and cutting branches down all in the supposed cause of a good photo, it ruined my morning, I soon left.

    Now I like taking photos but my priority is to watch birds and particularly anything the maybe new to the area, I did see the terns at hide 1 later (using my bins) and I did see that there was one different from the others only I was unable to identify it my knowledge is not that good, so thanks for identifying it for me.

    I conclude that Coate Water if fast getting spoilt to much noise to much food being put out and the naturalness is being destroyed.


    • As I said I know most of those there today and they are all nice people. I guess that we can all forget to be considerate at some time. I am sure there are things I do that others would not approve of. Hopefully by raising the issue we will all remember to consider other people when we are out and about.

  2. Hi Malcolm.

    I could not agree with you more , well said.


    • As I have said in my reply to Graham, it is a contentious issue and we all need to work together so that we can all enjoy the wonderful birds at Coate.

  3. Hi Malcolm, Did you wake up with a sore head when you visited Coate, we have introduced people of all sorts to the world of bird watching, it may be the first time they have been to the hides at Coate. They may not know the rules of being quite when watching birds! If Tony , Terry and myself had not introduced the feeders and managed infront of the hides you or any other
    birdwatcher or photographer would not have seen the the birds we have seen over the last 2 years. the amount of permits sold this year is over 89, please don’t tar everyone with the same brush, I know that I find it helpful to talk to my friends after losing my wife , we are all birders even if we don’t all make year lists or don’t know what we are looking at. If you felt that bad about the noise or the conversation in the hide why did you not say something to there face. I hope you are not upset by this reply ! When Tony and Myself fill the feeders we ask people in the hide if it is OK. If they say no we wait until they have gone. All the best from Graham

    • Hi Graham,
      Please accept my apologies if I have upset you or anyone else. My piece was intended as a light hearted wake up call to remind the regulars [as most of them were] that some of us go to the hides to watch birds and like to do so in peace and quiet. Maybe I should have said something at the time but I decided not to. As you can see from the other comments and as I said on many online forums, this is an emotive subject. I have been in the hide with a regular photographer who told me that I was not to open the side flap as it would scare away the birds. I did say and have said before that you have done wonders in the hides and it is much appreciated. All it needs now is for everyone to use the hides in a respectful and considerate manner.

  4. Hi
    I can understand that you prefer peace and quiet when you are out birding,I would just like to say that at the end of the day we are all one way or another out to enjoy seeing the wildlife in our local area,weather it being just to watch or photograph it. I am reasonably new to regularly visiting coate water and have to say I have been made very welcome by the regulars there and really appreciate the help and advice I have received,I really enjoy meeting them there and being able to discuss what has been seen during the week ect and now class most of them as new friends. They have also done a great job providing food and perches ect for the wildlife which has greatly improved sightings ect.also I must say that photography of wildlife as important as just recording sightings as a pemanent record.

    • Hi Helen,
      I don’t disagree with anything you have said here. I am about to write another post on this subject so let me know what you think.

  5. Malcolm I am the gentleman who took the food out at hide 1, I am sorry that it upset you but I did ask if any body minded me doing so and if you had said you did I would not have done so. sorry to spoil your day. Steve

    • Hello Steve,
      Good of you to post a comment on here. No need to apologise. It was just a bit of bad timing i think.
      I am about to write another post on this subject.

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