To finish off our trip to mid Wales we stopped in at the Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm. This was the first feeding station of its kind in the country and has done a great deal to support the population of the Red Kites in Wales and spread the message of their struggle far and wide. If you want to get close and personal with hundreds of Kites then this is the place. Recently the farm has had the added attraction of a Black Kite who turned up at the beginning of the year and is still around. We first caught site of it sitting in a tree near to the feeding area but the view was obscured somewhat by a very glary sun. We later saw it flying high above the other Kites but never got a close enough view to photograph it. Truth be told there were so many Red Kites coming in to feed that I could have quite easily missed it as I was looking elsewhere. Nevertheless it’s yet another life tick for me in what is proving to be a productive few months. Instead of rambling on I think a picture storyboard will tell the tail of the day well so here we go.
Long before the food was put out for the Red Kites, the Buzzards, Rooks, Crows and Ravens were already lining up in the trees and across the fields in anticipation. The Kites themselves don’t actually come down to feed until these birds have made a start as their presence signals that the area is safe to approach.
At 2pm sharp the farmer appeared in front of the hides with his tractor and trailer full of fresh beef. He liberally scattered the food on the ground as we waited for the fun to start.
Initially only a few Red Kites came in and began to circle overhead checking out their surroundings.
This relative tranquility didn’t last long however as within a few minutes the sky was alive with Red Kites swooping and diving as they jostled for position both in the air and on the ground. It was at this point that I realised just how hard it was going to be to photograph these birds. Once I had gotten over the frankly astonishing site that I saw before me I started to attempt to follow a single bird as it came in for food. This quickly proved almost impossible as the Kites rapidly changed direction in the air and became lost in the crowd. Eventually I pretty much gave up and sat back to watch events unfold. Once the main rush was over individual Kites began to feed at a much more leisurely pace allowing a novice such as myself to attempt a few more photographs.
As touched on by the title to this post, Gigrin doesn’t have just Red and Black Kites. It also plays host to a White Kite in the form of a Leucistic Red Kite. This particular Kite hatched 30 miles away from the farm in 2003 and has been a regular visitor ever since. Due to their pigmentation differences Leucistic Kites tend not to survive very long in the wild due mainly to harassment from other birds. Fortunately this particular bird has found refuge in the feeding station.
I shall finish off this post by including a couple of Buzzard shots. I particularly like the one on the left as it shows the competition that exists between the birds. The Buzzard is watching the Rook like, if you will excuse the pun, a hawk!
All thats left to say really is to recommend that you pay a visit yourself as it really is a very special place and very worthy of your support.