February 2021 brought us further advances in our project. We had our site and birds but still no hide. There was a good deal of discussion over its construction and we would have prefered to have built it out of local materials – timber a favourite choice. However, even if the materials were free in the form of fallen landslide trees, the amount of labour and complicated skills involved – moving the wood on the hillsides, creating planking, the design of a wooden building, the carpentry and time span involved with this kind of construction – meant that this time round it was far easier to construct a prefabricated structure. Our mind was finally made up when we received a donation of building materials from a Chengdu construction firm and free transport to bring it from Chengdu to Wolong.
Using two local workers, who are experienced in these types of materials, the hide quickly started to rise. The metal frame allows for the easy construction of a level floor on the steep slope. A good roof is also a necessary.
The sides of the hide are made from a black nylon mesh fabric, which both conceals the occupants and is easy to cut for camera observation holes. The hide will easily be able to host 10 photographers at a time.
Amazingly just after the sides were put on and the first observation hole cut, despite all of the construction noise of grinders, welders, clanking pipes and noisy men, the first pheasant arrived back to feed. Our feeders has also been changed – now using pieces of dead wood, which birds had to climb on to get the corn, thus making for more attractive photos, and more secure feeding spots if there did come an attack from a predator such as a domestic cat.
A couple of days latter we got snow – and then we started to get some very nice pictures