If you visit Wales, the one bird you are guaranteed to see is the red kite. Found throughout Wales, the red kite has become a national bird for Wales, but it wasn’t always the case.
Around the turn of this century, there were an estimated 10 pairs left in Wales, mainly in the mid-wales area. Conservation efforts were put in place during this period to try and increase the population, in 1922 the RSPB took over the responsibility for paying bounties to landowners for successful nests, even though the population was growing – it was growing at a very slow pace, in 1993 over 100 pairs nested for the first time in living memory and started the population boom of the red kites in Wales with an estimated 1,000 pairs breeding in Wales and the Welsh birds have helped to spread the red kites across the UK. It’s a perfect example of people, organisations, naturalists and volunteers all pulling together to conserve a species.
To get to grips with the population in Wales, and to see the kites at their very best – myself and Katie travelled North to visit Gigrin Farm in Rhayader. Gigrin Farm is a family run working farm which is now famous for its Red Kite feeding! If you’ve never been to Gigrin before, it’s something you have to experience! You settle down in your choice of 5 hides all looking onto the field where the feed is put for the kites, we arrived at 2pm to have a look around before settling down and getting kitted up for the feed at 3pm. We were not prepared nor expected what happened next – we had heard it was an absolute spectacle to watch but we were sitting in our hide watching HUNDREDS of Red Kites, Buzzards and Corvids all gliding through the air, picking up food and feeding on the wing – it was an absolute buzz!
We spent up until 4:30 in the hide just watching and photographing the birds. I managed to get some great views of the birds through my Opticron DBA_VHD binoculars which also came in handy when Katie noticed that she had photographed a wing-tagged bird.. which then resulted in myself scanning through all birds looking for tags – we managed to collect 3 tags in full and photograph many more but unable to clearly see the digits.