Mike Warburton Photography


Setting up a Raptor Site

Posted by Mike Warburton Photography on January 22, 2013 at 12:50 PM

As Winter is now well and truly underway I have decided to go ahead with the plans to set up a Raptor Feeding Station for Photography purposes.When it becomes busy I will be holding sessions there as I have done with the Mossy Log Woodland Bird Feeding Station,which is still running for anyone wishing to book.

Working full time has to biggest disadvantage to setting up a project like this as it takes so much time.Firstly I have to make sure that I have a regular natural food source which,through the help of Andrew I have in the form of fresh Game such as Pheasant and Rabbits.

Secondly I need to find a remote enough location to avoid human disturbance and interference which again I have done.Raptors are very nervous of any new structure so to combat this I have utilised a long dis-used lime kiln which is dug into the side of the mountain in an abandoned quarry.The `building` has been there for about 150 years so the Birds will find nothing unusual but they will be nervous of the sight of someone inside.To avoid detection my plan was to set up my gear right at the back wall which is a good 12 feet inside and to avoid the Birds seeing me even further I have hung a black sheet across in front of me with a hole cut out for my lens only.This way of working means that anything looking in will just see what looks like the dark inner reaches of the structure and will go about its business.

It still means that I have to enter when its dark as the target species are some of the more intelligent Birds to Photograph and will wait for you to leave before they come near any bait,no matter how hungry they are.

After baiting for a week I popped over to the site and watched from a distance and noted 2 Magpies a Raven and a Buzzard all feeding on the Pheasants left out.I then planned for my first session a couple of days later after the first dusting of Snow.Arriving in total darkness was a bit strange but once set up with a Coffee from the flask I began to wait.......and wait.........and wait.The light came along with a couple of Magpies and I took one or two record shots but they were not really what I was after.Next to fly past was a Raven and he promptly landed in front of the `hide`.As soon as I got a clear shot I pressed the shutter but to be honest it was a mistake.Ravens are very clever,cautious Birds and as soon as the Camera went off he flew away.Dont get me wrong I was very pleased to get a shot of him as they are a very hard species to work on but the idea is too allow the Corvids to feed and act as `decoys` to the Raptor species I am after.Basically a Buzzard,for example,will watch a carcase from a distance and as soon as he can see that Ravens etc are happy to sit there feeding he knows the coast is clear and all is well.Then he will make his move.The rest of the session was very quiet,had I blown it?

My next session was much more productive in terms of confidence in the Birds.Again I arrived in darkness and set up in the bitter cold.Again the light came and as the sheet in front of me is cotton I can actually see through it and saw a Buzzard and Red Kite wheeling around in the valley below.Along with these a few Ravens were croaking above me and a Fox was watching the Sheep feeding on Hay from the hill opposite.It didnt take long for the Ravens to drop in and 3 of them came in at once.As the snow was heavy on the ground to attract a bit more attention I mixed some red food colouring with water and created what looked like a bloody murder scene around the bait.It was so tempting to take shots of the Ravens but I had to hang back in the hope of a Raptor coming in.Sadly they didnt which I put down to them staying low in the valley due to the lack of a thermal to ride.After the sheer boredom of playing games on my mobile and eventually running the battery down I called it a day and set off for the car.

Although I didnt get any shots on that last session I am still confident the site will work and am looking forward to another session.


Then again I could easily get a handler with a captive Bird and for the price of a few prints shoot all the shots I could possibly want.What sort of challenge or buzz would that be though...................not much of one,I know  ;)

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