30 years ago Wales had a mere handful of breeding pairs of Red Kites (Milvus Milvus), a fact that’s hard to believe when you spend the afternoon at Gigrin Farm with a spiralling mass of over 400 (can be less or a lot more depending on the weather and time of year) of these beautiful raptors filling the sky at feeding time.
Feeding stations have become an important element in the RSPB’s Red Kite conservation programme and ever since 1992 when Gigrin Farm was first approached, it’s been playing its very important role extremely successfully.
Now a true Welsh tourist attraction, Gigrin Farm is owned and run by Chris and Lena Powell and consists of 200 acres of land starting at 700 feet and rising to 1200 above sea level located in Rhayader in the Wye and Elan valleys in mid-Wales.
Gigrin is also the Red Kite Rehabilitation Centre in conjunction with The Welsh Kite Trust.
Admission to the feeding station for adults costs £5.00, for O.A.P £4.00 and for Children £3.00 (with 4yrs and under allowed in Free)
There are a number of conveniently located hides specifically aimed at photographers and film makers with costs starting at £12pp for ground level (accessible by wheelchair), rising to £22pp for the Big Tower Hide. The Big Tower hide can accomodate 6 photographers with tripods or 8 without, so reserving your spot with Chris Powell in advance is advisable, as it’s very popular.
(Prices correct as of 10 Mar 2014)
Red Kites are instantly recognisable in flight with their distinctive forked tails (fanned when diving) and striking colour, which is predominantly chestnut red with white patches under the wings and a pale grey head. It’s a medium-large bird of prey (females being slightly larger then the males) in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other raptors such as eagles, buzzards and harriers. Vagrant Red Kites have even reached north to Finland and south to Israel, Libya and Gambia.
When the feeding starts there is definitely a pecking order with the older birds going first followed by the younger and then juvenile birds. You’ll witness some spectacular aerial acrobatics with amazing displays of twists, turns, diving and feeding on the wing.
Frequent visitors to the station are a pair of White or Leucistic (reduced pigment) Red Kites. Normally at a distinct disadvantage in the wild but they’ve been accepted here by the other raptors.
Gigrin’s kite feeding – using prime beef – takes place at 2pm GMT or 3pm BST every day.