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Birds at Nest

It is most important to remember that any animal or bird photographed under these conditions may be put at risk by the presence of the photographer, his/her equipment and/or a hide. Photography under these conditions should only be undertaken by those with an detailed knowledge of the animal or bird’s behaviour and after careful observation of the specific individual in order to ensure the animal or bird is not placed under stress. The following conditions refer equally to photographing from a hide or setting up a camera and equipment close to the subject area and operating the camera with a remote release. Where it reads “hide” it should be read to include cameras and equipment set up in this manner. Any need to move vegetation should be minimal and at most only to tie back intruding foliage. Foliage is often a protection against predators, sun, rain and wind. Removing foliage reduces the protection and so chance of survival. Any foliage tied back must be returned immediately at the end of each photographic session.

Kesteral-At-Nest-Hole-
Kesteral at Nest Hole - Neville Foster AFIAP FAPS HonFAPS ©

The use of a hide should only be in areas where they are out of the general public's view. No hide should be left unattended in a place with any potential public access. It is important to check out the normal tracks taken by the subject before erecting a hide so as not to position it in the normal path of the animal. It takes time for animals and birds to get used to hides. Hides therefore, should either be built over a period of time or erected some distance away and moved closer each day. After each change to the hide the photographer should retire to a safe distance and watch with binoculars. If any stage of the hide construction or its movement creates stress in the subject then the procedure should be reversed one stage or the hide should be removed completely. Erecting hides close to nests that are being constructed, or when there are eggs in a nest should be avoided, as the chance of the bird abandoning its nest is greater than when there are chicks present. The time for acceptance of a hide is usually about one week. Approaches to the hide should be devious and varied. It is important to minimise the chance of creating a track or scent trail to the hide. Not only does this encourage other people, but human scent may attract feral animals such as cats and foxes.

The nest, nesting hollow, eggs, chicks or other young should never be touched. The use of electronic flash needs careful consideration. The flash heads usually need to be well camouflaged and if when used the flash causes distraction to the animals, their use must be abandoned. The use of recorded tapes, stuffed predators or other animals as baits of any kind is not acceptable. The use of any other bait is undesirable and should be restricted to situations where it does not put the subject at any risk. The capture of free animals and birds is in most cases illegal and should never be done for nature photography, unless it is for a particular documented scientific study and the relevant permits have been obtained.