As soon as I spotted Chris Johnstone’s Peak Nature site I couldn’t wait to contact him so I could try out one of his hides and take some wonderful Buzzard shots like his. You should check out the images on his site, they are spectacular!
He has a Woodland hide too where you can capture Woodpeckers and other forest dwellers but I have a particular fondness for raptors.
Chris informed me that he normally operates the hides between Autumn and Spring, accommodating up to two people and that they were currently closed. This is due to there being an abundance of food elsewhere to attract them. However, he is an accommodating chap and offered to bait the hide to encourage the Buzzards prior to our visit.
He’s a semi-professional photographer specialising in nature (wildlife and landscapes) but he’s been commissioned for commercial and wedding work along the way. With a background in Biology and working closely with the RSPB, he is a very knowledgeable guy and an accomplished photographer.
We both rocked up to a farmland location in Wirksworth on what promised according to the weather reports to be a mixed bag of sun and showers. As I left the car I hope for the former to dominate the day.
The sun was shining as Chris from Peak Nature Hides met us in the farmyard and I had high hopes of capturing a Buzzard in all its glory.
He led us across a couple of fields to the hide which was secreted at the base of a large tree. It looked on the outside like a small garden shed, obviously homemade but perfectly formed. 😊
I didn’t know what to expect as I’d never done this before and I wasn’t disappointed with my surroundings as he opened the door for us to enter. There was sturdy wooden seating with ample cushions to keep you comfortable during your stay. Which could be up to a day.
Chris seems to have thought of everything you would desire during your “Birding stay”. In the corner of the bench at the far end of the Peak Nature hut you have a flask of hot water with cups, along with a few sachets of coffee & tea. And to keep you energised a packet of McVities chocolate digestives (other brands are available 😊) very naughty but nice for someone on a self-imposed diet.
Back to the Peak Nature hide itself. The front has flip-up wooden shutters, and camouflaged drapes enabling you to conceal your camera’s lenses. There are also anchoring points for your tripod heads or like me you can utilise the inhouse beanbags.
Being hopeful, with the sun shining we told Chris to return at 12.30pm to collect us and lock up the hide. He advised that we could text him should we decide to prolong our stay.
We then set up our cameras, focusing on the log which had been freshly baited and settled back on our bench.
“Come on my beauties!”
I watched in keep anticipation as the wind blew the grass and the swallows flited across our field of vision. All was well with the world as we heard the call of a Buzzard somewhere nearby.
Time passed and then eventually, roughly an hour later the focus of our attention appeared in the background. Flying towards the prey from the trees at the back of the field was a great big, beautiful Buzzard.
It flew around in a circle just a few feet above the bait, then disappeared. My heart was beating so fast as I leant forward to take position on my camera. Unfortunately not quick enough to take a picture.
But there was hope…
Would the Buzzard come back.
We text Chris to give us another hour, an opportunity for the Buzzard to return…
Peak Nature Hides … The Conclusion
Well, I won’t keep you in suspense. The heavens opened just minutes later and we sat for a good hour with no sign of the buzzard. It was such a dreadful afternoon that a no show was inevitable.
Bloody annoying but this is what happens with wildlife.
And I won’t give up, I would love to revisit in Autumn or maybe console myself with one of Chris’ proposed “Hare Workshops”.