Exterior of green-painted Abattoir Swamp bird hide
View from bird hide across grass-clogged Abattoir Swamp
If you like watching grass grow, Abattoir Swamp is the place. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Abattoir bird hide view butchered

When we chose the hide at Abattoir Swamp near Julatten in Far North Queensland as our ‘worst bird hide ever’, it is fair to say we copped a bit of stick.

Nobody expressed their views through this website but we got the message by various other means.

‘The whole place has just had a facelift and it’s looking lovely now. So why would you want to knock it?’ is representative of the comments.

So we went back to take some pictures of the improvements. No question, the raised ‘boardwalk’ (with some sort of plastic composite on top) is looking good (and safe), and the hide itself it sporting a fresh coat of green.

Exterior of green-painted Abattoir Swamp bird hide
The hide and access walkway have been beautifully restored. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Wonderful! Except, as our image (above) shows, when you look through the viewing slits, all you can see of the ‘swamp’ is an impenetrable mass of grass – olive hymenachne to be precise.

Maybe there is a cunning plan to get rid of the stuff but as things stand, Abattoir Swamp remains a damp squib in our eyes.

How to enter our ‘blind tasting’ competition

Bird hides come in all shapes, sizes and states of usefulness. If you are any kind of birder or photographer, you have been in more than a few.

So we thought it a good idea to ask you to tell us about your best and worst hide experiences – from anywhere around the world. Supporting pics are welcomed.

Please use the reply form below or email Tony Neilson:


Disused bird hide, New zealand
Exterior of timber-finished Loch Levin bird hide
This bird hide at Loch Leven, Scotland is part hide, part bridge and part screen. Photo: courtesy Wood Awards

Natural Images ‘Blind’ Tasting’ Competition.


Bird hides come in all shapes, sizes and states of usefulness. If you are any kind of birder or photographer, you have been in more than a few.

So we thought it a good idea to ask you to tell us about your best and worst hide experiences.

And to make sure we got your attention, we are calling it our ‘Blind Tasting’ Competition.

To kick things off, here are our opening choices.


Apparently there is a hide in Finland with a revolving turret for photographers to track birds in flight around 360 degrees. But we haven’t been able to verify its existence.

Timber-lined interior of Loch Levin hide
Oak viewing apertures at Loch Levin double as shelves and benches. Photo: ©Wood awards

So for starters, Natural Images nominates something of a five-star gem (pictured) on the shores of Loch Leven in Scotland as a leading contender for the top spot. Made largely with Scottish timber, the part-hide, part-bridge and part-screening facility has won numerous architectural and environmental design awards. And what about this for style: the viewing apertures, shelves and benches are all oak finished!

Viewing slots are carefully positioned and expansive enough to suit the differing needs of birders and photographers. This one hits the spot for us.


Good real estate and the best bird hides have three things in common: location, location, location. But what about the view?

It wasn’t the substantial python in the rafters or the imposing golden orb spider at the entrance that put us off the hide at Abattoir Swamp in Far North Queensland. It was the view: nothing but grass!

An impenetrable mass of olive hymenachne to be precise – introduced as cattle fodder and now out of control across the country. What a shame that so much effort has gone into refurbishing the raised walkway and nicely finished hide, just to view an expanse of one of the worst weeds in Australia.

As for the ‘swamp’ – it is reported to be under the grass somewhere. But if you are planning a visit, we suggest a quick turn around the parking area will produce better results.

How to enter our Blind Tasting

We would love to hear about your favourite and not-so-favourite bird hides and experiences therein (keep it reasonably seemly, please).

Send your entries (120 words or less, ideally with supporting pic) by using the form below. We will regularly post a selection of the best contributions, and eventually try to sort out the overall winners. Prizes might also be a possibility.

©Natural Images 2016