This week Bev and I popped for a short break to Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border. for those of you who are unaware, Hay is know as "the town of books" and boasts over 20 second-hand bookshops (some of which are very large indeed). For an avid reader and collector of natural history books like myself it is a wonderful place. Needless to say our savings took a bit of a bash but i did come back with some interesting titles.
On the Wednesday we decided to pop into the Welsh values, some 30 miles from Hay, to Gigrin Farm at Rhayader. Gigrin Farm is the site of the UK's first and probably best Red Kite feeding station and is also home to a rehabilitation centre for injured kites. For more information on Gigrin visit there website at http://gigrin.co.uk/
We arrived at Gigrin at just gone 1:30pm a good hour and a half before feeding time. Already there were c.60 Red Kites circling over the farm and many more were perching up in the surrounding trees. The weather was quite overcast and drizzly and actually made for a better experience as more of the Kites were down lower pre-feeding, some of which were just at barn roof height...yes that low. Many are usually are high up on the thermals until the feeding frenzy begins.
Also of interest were 42 Pied Wagtails that dropped into the field next to the visitor centre. Most likely migrant birds stopping off for a quick feed before commencing their journey South.
We headed to the hides at about 14:20 and sat watching as Kite numbers increased in the build up to feeding time. Also congregating were at least 5 Common Buzzards and half a dozen Ravens.
At just before 3pm we could here the distant noise of the tractor approaching with its trailer of laden with raw meat. Suddenly the sky was full of Kites it was like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's film The Birds. As the farmer shovelled out the meat, throwing it across the ground there were Kites diving down almost immediately. Red Kites don't feed on the ground but prefer to swoop down, grab it and eat it on the wing when safely away. It really is amazing to watch. On this particular visit I estimated that there were between 200-300 Red Kites present.
I could keep harping on about what majestic birds Red Kites are but i won't, instead I will let my photos and videos do the talking....
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