By the 1960s, red kites had almost disappeared from the British Isles. Seen as detestable vermin for centuries, their number had been reduced to only 30, all of which lived in Mid Wales.
Over the past several decades, however, conservation efforts have helped the population bounce back, particularly in the Welsh countryside to which they’d retreated during the lean years. The feeding station at Gigrin Farm gives visitors the opportunity to see these once maligned, now celebrated raptors in action.
Gigrin Farm is a 200-acre, family-run sheep farm with spectacular views of the Wye and Elan valleys. In 1992, Gigrin became an official red kite feeding station following a request from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Today, wild red kites are fed at Gigrin every day at 2pm in the winter and 3pm in the summer, in a spectacle that showcases the impressive skills of these feathered marauders.
The farm opens its doors to the public to witness the aerial agility and piratical skills of the red kites as they compete with buzzards and ravens for choice morsels. As a beef-laden tractor approaches the feeding grounds, crows and ravens arrive on the scene to lurk in the surrounding trees.
They are then joined by buzzards and red kites, clearly visible and circling overhead in growing numbers. As soon as the meat has been put out the crows swarm the grounds and the kites go on the offensive. They watch and wait — then, in a flash, they seize their chance to dive in and snatch a scrap.The number of kites at the feeding station can vary anywhere from a dozen to 200 or more. The variance depends on weather and the time of year; winter months bring higher numbers than sunny summer days where the birds often take their time.There is access for all at Gigrin Farm and spectators are invited to use the allocated bird hides located just 30 meters from the action for full viewing pleasure. There are a number of specialist hides for photographers and disabled-friendly access also.
The farm also has other animals onsite — including sheep, peacocks and more — as well as a nature trail that can be accessed with ease.
Know Before You Go
A nominal fee (per person) is asked, which goes towards the upkeep of the farm and facilities. Photographers can pay for access to specialist hides, which must be booked online.