Great hide, shame about the noise...

I had the luxury of a day off last week, and I decided to use the day to visit the reserve to see what was about. It was my first visit since the new hide was built, and I'd like to congratulate all involved for a sterling job! I enjoyed the best views of kingfishers I've ever seen. I'm sure it's still a work in progress, but just in case it's slipped your attention, I think some more screening on the approach path would be a good addition. What was really disappointing though, was to find a group of three people encamped inside the hide, with one individual in particular holding court and talking loudly and incessantly throughout my stay. I was only there for half an hour at lunchtime, but apparently they'd been in the hut since 7am. In addition to the endless loud chatter, as soon as any bird would appear, an irritating running commentary would start: "Ere we go look - there's one, no look there's another one - look they're chasing each other - look over there - there they are look - over there!", and to top it all, every time a bird appeared all three would point their huge telephoto lenses out the windows and a racket like machine guns would continue until the bird disappeared. It was like being in war-torn Beirut! Well.. you know what I mean. I'm sure photographers are entitled to their fun too, and provide some great shots for the RSPB websites, but boy do I miss the good old days (5yrs ago!) when hides were quiet places and you had the challenge and satisfaction of 'finding your own bird'.
  • Hi Alistair D, thank you very much for your nice comments about the new hide, I'll pass them on to the rest of the team.  I'm really pleased you had such a good visit and good views of kingfishers.  Thanks also for your comments about the screening.  We had hoped that the reeds would provide more of a screen, but the wind seems to have flattened them down a bit.  We are working on a solution.

    I can't really comment about the noisiness of others.  I think some people's enthusiasm for seeing wildlife overtakes everything else, and I think we all have done that at some point.  I know I certainly have!  And it does have the use of alerting others to the whereabouts of whatever creature has appeared.  But I do, very much, appreciate that sometimes all you want is a bit of peace and quiet to enjoy what you are seeing.  Fortunately Lakenheath Fen is large enough to find quiet spots where the wildlife is equally as confiding.

    Hope to see you on the reserve again soon.

    Katherine (Warden)    

  • In reply to Katherine:

    Lakenheath has been a favourite of ours even before the R.S.P.B. bought it, and in our opinion have done a sterling job, we have not seen the new hide, but will rectify that when we come down in November, I must agree with you Alistair, I am a photographer, and have been for over 60 years,but I am afraid some just go a bit over the top, I have myself asked some if they could calm down so others can enjoy, and while the odd comment regarding that a particular bird is showing is great, but to keep it low key would be helpful, and unfortunately some of the big lens brigade do not wish to share their pictures with anyone, which is a real shame.

  • In reply to PS Birds:

    I must sympathise with Alistair’s point about noise, but really hope that his bad experience doesn’t result in his thinking that all owners of big lenses should be tarnished with the same brush.  I too get really frustrated, if not annoyed, by the behaviour of some individuals when it comes to hide etiquette.  However, this frustration can as often be aimed at those without cameras as it does at those with.  Personally, I have for many years enjoyed nature watching with nothing more than a pair of binoculars or a scope, and I believe that there is nothing better than sitting on my own for several hours just watching the world go by.  However, wanting to capture my memories to share with others inspired me to buy a camera; and, yes, with a big lens.  However, I must point out that I didn’t suddenly overnight become an anti-social and selfish individual.  Conversely, I like to think that I treat anyone in my vicinity with the respect that I’d expect them to give me.  Sadly, there is a small group of selfish individuals, comprising both birders and photographers, that do have a habit of spoiling it for the rest of us; however, apart from a few who think that they are better that the rest of us, don’t actually do it with malice.  Unfortunately, the majority of reserves and hides are open for public consumption and those that understand the appropriate protocols have no more right to be there than those that don’t.  It’s a pity that we don’t live in an ideal world, albeit there are many occasions when Lakenheath gets very close to being there.  As for winding back time to point when noisy cameras and camera owners weren’t an issue?  We’ll, Lakenheath Fen won’t have been there – so I afraid that we have to live today, and accept the compromise; no matter how frustrating or annoying it can be…..

  • In reply to timjames1963:

    I agree with Tim, both photographers and non-photographers are often extremely selfish in hides. You can put up all the polite notices you like but some people are just too stupid to take notice and be considerate to others.

    I've been to the hide twice and on both occasions there were groups of people speaking loudly and apparently not thinking there was anything wrong with that.

    The people who sit in the same hide all day and think they own it really are the worst, especially the ones shouting about how they haven't seen anything!

    I think in general birds that are comfortable will tolerate a fairly noisy camera, but continuous noise can't help.

    A little consideration for others can't really be that hard. I would advocating banning any consistent offenders from the reserve, though it would be hard to enforce.

  • In reply to David O:


    in the old days we called it Fieldcraft and it was learned off your birding mentor or out of books .

    Now there are hordes of photographers at reserves ( often without binoculars - which is a giveaway) taking photos of wildlife they can't identify and making lots of noise.

    Volunteers in hides don't always ask people ( including children)  to keep the noise down  ( often gabbling on  giving out inaccurate information themselves ** )and so the problem probably proliferates.

    If the RSPB PTB  want to make reserves family friendly to boost membership that's fine but a way of restoring  hide etiquette needs to be found .

    I believe I mentioned before a situation at Titchwell where some loud expensively dressed visitors had a pre- teen daughter who needed a toilet stop and so her uncle  took her into the bushes behind the Visitor Centre; Birders scour that area with binoculars all day and an embarrassing scene was quite possible.


    **  pers obs Minsmere 2014

    For advice about Birding, Identification,field guides,  binoculars, scopes, tripods,  etc - put 'Birding Tips'   into the search box

  • In reply to seymouraves:

    Yes, us photographers are the spawn of the devil and the personification of everything that's wrong in birding. I've never seen anyone without a camera be anything but a knowledgeable, courteous paragon of virtue. As someone who's only been birding a couple of years (but been a photographer for far longer) and without a circle of birding friends, the meagre knowledge I've built up has been through the kindness of people in hides prepared to share their  expertise and through taking my photos home and pouring through book s to ID birds I didn't recognise. I'm sorry if at any stage I haven't managed to perfect my impression of Marcel Marceau when in a hide, but I've always tried to ensure I don't impact on the enjoyment of others.

    Not all photographers are inconsiderate monsters, just as not all "proper birders" are perfect

  • In reply to WickWelsh:

    I feel a need to clarify... I was a professional photographer for 12 years and am still an enthusiastic hobby photographer, and I've done my share of bird photography, digiscoping etc (in RSPB hides), and enjoyed some success having several photos published. My criticism was not by any means aimed at all photographers. My comments were about a single group's lack of consideration, or awareness of hide etiquette. Hogging the best corner of a hide in a busy reserve for more than 5hrs might show dedication, but to me it's just inconsiderate. Yapping loudly and incessantly like you're sitting in a pub might be convivial, but in a hide it's just inconsiderate. Announcing the arrival of *every* bird and maintaining a running commentary of its movements might be helpful for novices, but to me it's just inconsiderate. And firing off a dozen frames at every *twitch* that a bird makes while sitting on its perch, multiplied by three photographers, might be the best way to guarantee a single usable shot, but to others in the hide who are looking for a bit of peace and quiet to watch the birds, it's just flippin' annoying. In most RSPB hides I've visited, people talk and exchange information quietly, and most photographers are very discreet and considerate. I hope last week's experience doesn't indicate an erosion of 'birding etiquette'.

  • In reply to Alastair D:

    I don't understand why you just didn't ask them to keep the noise down.

  • In reply to holdingmoments:

    Understood Alaister, but even though I was exaggerating for effect, there is a general mood in birding that photographers are only out to get the shot and to hell with the bird and anyone else in the way (and yes there are some who approach it in that way). I do however find it strange that you haven't found behaviour an issue in most hides, but this one experience makes you think it might be an erosion of birding etiquette.

  • In reply to WickWelsh:

    I suspect that people's opinions polarise based on a very small number of extreme examples.  Therefore it is easy to fall into the assumption that all birders are arrogant twitchers, all photographers are selfish hide-hoggers.  The truth of course is the opposite, the vast majority of people I meet in hides are polite, enthusiastic and willing to share information with anyone who asks, whether they have a camera or not.


    Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index