Gigrin Farm- Red Kite feeding station

I have wanted to visit Gigrin Farm near Rhayder in Mid Wales for about two years. Having read much about it and seen so many wonderful photographs I yearned to get some of my own of the Red Kite (Milvus milvus). Feeding time in the Winter is always at 2.00pm and a nice blue sky for a background would be very nice. The forecast was good and I arrived early about 12.30pm to lovely sunshine with odd puffs of cloud. By 2.00pm  most of the sky was cloudy. I was so disappointed at the fast change in the weather.

As I waited for 2.00pm to come the birds started to arrive early as well. It is amazing how they know what time they are going to be fed. The Crows, Jackdaws and Ravens seem to be the first to appear and hang around in the surrounding trees and bushes to the feeding station. At the same time Buzzards are on the wing circling and the numbers of Red Kite are also increasing both watching what is happening below. It is as if they are watching the Corvids and their behaviour to see if it is safe for them to come closer.

I wish I had put my wide angle lens on to really show how many birds were in the sky once feeding started. It was black with birds, there are 38 Red Kite in this picture alone. I made a quick count and thought there was probably 400 Red Kite flying about as well as Buzzards and Corvids. They were all swooping down at great speeds taking the food off the ground.

I do not want to be controversial on my site but I did ask myself the question is this right, so many birds dependent on a daily feed. What happens if this ever stops, how will the birds cope without food on tap. The introduction of the Red Kite into Wales and other parts of England and Scotland would seem to have been a great success story.

The problem taking pictures with so many birds around is the difficulty in isolating one bird when birds are criss-crossing all over the place. Out of all the pictures I took I probably got a dozen clean ones.

The best pictures I got were probably 1/2 hour after the mad rush for food had subsided and the birds weren’t coming in as fast in the same numbers.

I like this picture and feel very lucky to have photographed two Red Kite on the wing together.

This is a White Red Kite, the correct name being Leucistic which do visit the feeding station from time to time.

Leucistic means that the colouration is mainly pure white but it is not an albino due to the fact that pigment is not entirely missing, it has blue eyes as opposed to a true albino that has pink eyes.

The three picture of the Buzzard (Buteo buteo) above are sequential. The Buzzard came into land he ran along the grass for about 2 metres and then stopped. I have never seen this sort of action before and was pleased to have photographed it.

After the madness at the start of the feeding period the birds did settle down a bit. This Raven (Corvus corax) perched on a post at the rear of the station and gave me the opportunity to photograph it properly.

And even a Red Kite perched in the tree for awhile.

It was a great day out and I would recommend it to anyone. The birds certainly did not let me down. The bird sounds in the air as they flew around is something I will remember as well. The hides are very good and are limited to so many per hide. There is a hide for people with big lenses as well but I managed with the standard hide. Sometimes the birds are right overhead and you are sticking you camera vertical to get the picture. They come very close and some of my pictures I took using my 70-200 lens. I still used my longer focal lens but be prepared to shoot close.

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