by Mike McNamee Published 01/12/2015
When you are satisfied with the water level you can then consider how you wish to dress the elevated shelf. This will be a personal decision but it is worth considering the time of year, your target subjects and indeed the background. I have found that I prefer to use turf or moss on the shelf. Dead leaves can also be used and work reasonably well but suffer from being loose and tend to be dislodged by birds looking for food underneath, resulting in the liner becoming exposed. Additionally it is important to cover the shelf fully, bringing your chosen dressing material down its full surface and into the water making the join between land and water as natural as possible, avoiding any signs of the liner.
At this point it should be mentioned that in addition to water loss due to evaporation even more tends to be lost by capillary action of the 'dressed ' shelf especially when it is covered with turf or moss. So expect to top up the tank on a regular basis and in warmer weather.
Having completely set up the tank in the correct location, having due regard for the sunlight and background as mentioned earlier, it's time to think about the hide. As the water level in the tank has been set up at approximately a metre off the ground so as to achieve a diffused/blurred background, it will be necessary to erect a platform sufficiently high and distant from the 'dressed' edge of the tank so as to provide a full reflected image of the target subject.
As a guide to getting started, if a seated hide is placed on a raised platform approximately one metre high (see fig 5) and say 12 metres distant from the rear of the tank this should be suitable for any of the crow or dove families. Should you choose to attract smaller birds, say of the thrush family or smaller, then your hide may need to be moved closer and by necessity raised higher. At this point it is a case of trial and error until you find the correct distance for your own particular project. A word about health and safety: if using pallets or the like as a raised platform, do ensure that they are securely fastened together, and that the hide too is in turn also securely fastened to the platform. (I speak here from personal experience!!) As an added bonus, if the hide is securely attached to the platform, it can be left erected for a few days for the birds to get accustomed to it without it being blown away. I choose to use ratchet ties to secure my set-up (see fig5).
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