11 Jun 2013

A Visit to Gigrin Farm in Wales

Red Kite

It seems at present the main excuse to go over to Britain is birthday parties and last weekend was no exception. We headed over to a 50th birthday party in Wales. Arriving late on the friday night we then woke up to an incredibly bright and sunny saturday morning in the Welsh borders. Our hosts have a twenty acre farm with about 5 acres of which is deciduous woodland. So my first thing to do was take a walk round the farm. There were Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff singing everywhere with the occasional Blackcap. In the woods there was the chip chip of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and its very noisy young calling from a nest. I saw my first Grass Snake in the wild just lying in the sun on one of the paths running through the woods.
Grass Snake
Walking round the fields I came across a beautiful male Redstart which was too far to photograph properly. I mentioned the bird to other people who were camping in the fields and they told me both the male and female had been feeding young nearby. It was an idyllic day and a great party with pig roast in the garden. I sat most of the day drinking Tawny Owl Perry from the local cider mill

watching House Martin coming to their nests.

The following morning we said our good byes, we were sad to hear that our friends were selling the house: so if you want a small holding in Wales the details are here , and headed on an hour and a half drive to Rhyader in central Wales where Gigrin Farm is situated. Gigrin Farm is The Red Kite Feeding and Rehabilitation Centre.
Gigrin Farm

Gigrin Farm

It became a feeding centre about twenty years ago when the Kites used to roost at Gigrin in the winter. At first there were about twelve kites that used it whereas in the very cold winter spell a couple of years ago as many as 600 birds came to the site.
Track to the Hides at Gigrin Farm

Just before you get to Rhyader you turn up a track past a small hotel to the farm itself on the side of a hill overlooking the valley below. They feed the birds at 2pm in the winter and 3pm in the summer. We arrived about an hour early and bought tickets to one of the photography hides. At this point there were quite a few Red Kites in the air and in trees around the feeding site. We made our way down the track above to the hides.
The Hides at Gigrin Farm

The photographer hides are open and are elevated and you look out on to the feeding area.
Feeding Ground Gigrin Farm

As we are sitting waiting in the open hide a female Redstart lands on the corner of the hide less than three feet from me.
Female Redstart

Redstart with grub

She then flies up to her nest in the corner of the hide.
Redstart at Nest at Gigrin Farm Hide

Amazing to be so close.

At 3pm a tractor comes into the feeding area and the farmer forks the meat out of the link box onto the site. By this time there are 100- 200 Red Kites in the air along with a few buzzards.
Red Kite

Red Kite

Red Kite and Buzzard


The Kites swoop down and grab the meat whereas the Buzzards just land and gorge themselves. The noise is amazing. It is an extraordinary sight. There is even a leucistic kite amongst them.
Leucistic Red Kite

Forty minutes later and it is all over with most birds having disappeared and only a few remaining. But what an afternoon.
Red Kite diving

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Great photos. The Red Kite is an iconic bird for me. I named my old house Barcud which is Welsh for Red Kite. I'm glad you enjoyed the sights, Craig.