The red kites of mid-Wales are a real success story. Down to single numbers of breeding pairs – as few as two or three at times – in the 1920s and 30s, there are now hundreds – and introduced populations are thriving elsewhere in the UK. One factor in their recent success must be the feeding programme at Gigrin Farm, Rhayader. Since 1994, and at the initiative of the RSPB, the feed has provided a daily spectacle for visitors.
We had an omen for the day’s success shortly before leaving Shropshire – we spotted one circling near Hopton Heath, on the road from Craven Arms to Knighton – my first Salopian sighting.
We took our places in the hides at the farm at around 2pm and waited. The crows began to take their places too, and as the hour wore on, the odd kite or two in the sky above the farm became several, then, as 3pm approached, dozens. By the time of the feed (3pm in summer) there must have been around 50 kites in the air.
The crows stomp around and take their pick – the kites swoop, grabbing their chosen morsel with their talons, and eating it on the wing – amazing! (I think Hitchcock would have been impressed too…)
The weather could have been better (it was, a few miles away) – if it had, the photos might have been better.