As well as Spain in 2015 I was determined to get up to Alan MacFadyen’s hides in Dumfries and Galloway. I had seen the early results of his attempts to attract a Cuckoo to perch in 2014, and he was hoping he might be able to repeat it. And repeat it he did. I spent a week with him in Scotland, visiting a selection of his hides: his regular Kingfisher and Sparrowhawk hides, as well as a Redstart hide that was just beginning to see some action, and a badger hide that could be promising if the weather permitted.
I spent time with the Kingfishers every day I was there. It was time well spent. Staying up there for a week meant I could visit at different times of the day and also photograph the subject in different conditions. The hide looked out across an estuary with a background of reeds – a backdrop which changed as the sun moved round during the day and also changed with the prevailing weather (cool grey tones when it was a rainy day and warm tones on a sunny day). It made for a great background. I even managed some diving shots from the same position I was shooting portraits – which I found more rewarding than remote set-ups.
The cuckoo didn’t disappoint either – it showed each day, only for a short time, but long enough to get a variety of shots. Getting a flight shot was difficult. Not only are Cuckoos very quick when they take off, but it’s a shy bird so you couldn’t go waving a lens around to track it. I managed a few when it moved between perches.
It was an excellent week and I must try to get up there again soon.