Learning never exhausts the mind

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A visit to the Red Kite Centre at Gigrin Farm which is located in the heart of Mid Wales, overlooking both the Wye and Elan Valleys, and just half a mile from the market town of Rhayader.

Wild red kites are fed at Gigrin Farm every day of the year, and at feeding time 100's of Red Kites can be seen performing breathtaking feats of aerial piracy as the red kites compete with buzzards and ravens for choice pickings.

At the farm, there are five specialist hides for viewing the feedings and photography. The hides are located only a few metres from the action which makes it easy to photograph the kites in flight and diving for food. The video below shows how many red kites are flying and how close they are!

At exactly 2 pm the tractor drives out into the small feeding area and they spread out a dozen or so shovel loads of prepared meat. Even as they do this the Kites swoop down and grab their lunch. As the tractor drives off, the sky is literally filled with birds swooping and wheeling in all and every direction. Trying to photograph a single bird in this maelstrom would be nigh on impossible.

Although the main attraction seems to end after only a few minutes and most people wander off, it's well worth hanging around. While most of the birds fly off, a lot of the younger ones stay on and pick up the scraps and since it's not as busy in the skies they are slower and more relaxed. This means they are easier to photograph. Also, with fewer people around you can move about the hides and reposition yourself easier.

Red Kites in England have been seen as detestable vermin for centuries. By the 1960s, red kites had almost disappeared from the British Isles. Their numbers had been reduced to only 30, all of which lived in Mid Wales. Over the past several decades' conservation efforts have helped the population bounce back. From only 6 Red Kites initially at Gigrin Farm in the early 90's there are now several hundred which frequent the daily feedings.

Red Kites Feeding

A Flickr album by Tim Trott (27 photos)

The red kites are joined by Buzzards, crows and a few kestrels all vying for the available food at the farm. The farm has other animals on site including sheep, peacocks and more, as well as a nature trail that can be accessed with ease.

There's no deigning that to see so many Kites feeding at Gigrin is an amazing spectacle, it's certainly something I can highly recommend and I'm already looking forward to returning.

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