Once upon a time there was a man who built a hide to watch the wonderful wildlife his little tranquil retreat had to offer.
It was a simple hide, nothing special just a shed. A lick of black and green paint, a colour he was very familiar with, would do – maybe a small brew making kit for the times he dreamt of when a certain bird would show.
Year one went by and the many species of bird and animal gave him so much enjoyment; he shared the images with his friends.
He then started a blog all about the sightings he captures on his camera and stories of how he came about the image.
He planted an apple, a pear and a plum tree.
Over winter he had to leave his retreat, and in the months that followed he lay awake at night remembering the birds he had heard that past season.
One of the birds he thought of was Mr Jay. One day he heard a bird call he recognised coming from the top of his hide – only feet away. He soon realised that it was Mr Jay mimicking the bird he had thought was flying over head.
He was learning about bird behaviour daily, and this knowledge was passed on to his family and his blog. He was surprised at how many people didn’t know what a Jay could do.
One day, Mr Jay took 28 peanuts in one visit, then on an other occasion he observed it making it’s head feathers stand on end.
The summer was a good one, and the Jay had another treat for the man in his hide.
It had parasites on it’s wings that irritated it, and he watched it fly in one afternoon and find a rock to rest against; it opened it’s feathers and seemed to smile while the little ants cleaned the Jay of parasites.
He looked the area just in front of the hide and came up with a plan to help the wildlife; he would build a pond for them to drink from and bathe in.
Soon it was taking shape. His wife Ruth helped him achieve his design – carrying water, planting and anything else his amazing wife could help him with to make this a very special place.
They planted Blueberry shrubs, Teasel and wild plants, making feeders from natural wood. They planted Willow on the pathway leading to the hide.
Year 3 came with a lovely selection of animals and birds.
The first Redstart came with her young, and a lovely Spotted Flycatcher birds he had not seen before.
Year four came quick, and soon more wildlife turned up.
Brown hare made many visits with it’s big, black tipped ears and huge long legs.
Mr Fox also made an appearance as it made it’s way to safety away from humans.
The Roe Deer came in daily, but made a hasty retreat with any sudden noise.
As he sat there carving another owl, he looked up to see a little bank vole running out to get seed the birds had dropped.
All that season he saw and heard the bird he most wanted to film. He even tried placing meat on logs, and getting road kill and leaving it out.
Countless early mornings before it got light, getting into position waiting for it to appear. He captured video footage of it feeding on chicken he had put out.
Year five started as always – work on the hide to get it looking good for the season, something that Ruth and Ron sorted in a day.
New logs from the woods, new feeding area, pond cleaning and path clearing, and get the food out.
Nature has its way of rewarding him – many instances of endless effort and patience to try and film a subject were always rewarded. He never gives up.
Picture the scene.
He is sat in his retreat – puts the gas stove on, one spoon of coffee and some milk.
While it boils, he looks at the images he’s captured since being there that morning.
Something to the left catches his eye.
It is THE bird flying low, being chased by another.
Closer it comes – he doesn’t even lift his camera up. It turns quickly and lands 100 feet away on a branch that is directly in front of him.
Is this it – after five years of waiting? He lifts his camera up, praying his settings are spot on.
It sits for 60 seconds – a lifetime in photography terms.
Another Buzzard flies in and scares it off. It was gone. Just like that.
He swallows, and looks down at his 3 inch LCD screen.