Sunday, January 04, 2009

Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian

On Sat 3rd January Teresa and myself made our Xmas visit to an aunt and uncle of mine living near Llangranog not far from Newquay.
Keeping an eye out for Red Kites from the car as we travelled we spotted one over the road whilst going through the village of Pencader.
We usually see a couple on the approach to Carmarthen but not on this occasion.
After a quick cuppa the four of us set off on a pre-arranged visit to the Red Kite feeding station run by the Forestry Commission at Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian just off the A44 about 10miles due west of Aberystwyth.
We couldn't have picked a better day with a clear blue sky and fantastic visibility and picked up a further 3 kites as well as several Common Buzzards at various intervals over the main road as we approached Aberystwyth.

Unfortunately we slightly mis-judged the distance involved and what with getting stuck behind milk tankers and tractors etc didn't arrive until 2.15pm whereas the kite feeding began at 2.00pm sharp.

I'd wanted to try and photograph the kites swooping down for the scraps of meat but unfortunately we were too late to witness that spectacule,there were however still something like 150+ kites in flight over the centre which in brilliant sunshine gave fantastic views.

I'd been to the feeding stations at Gigrin Farm and Llandeusant on previous occasions but had not visited Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian before and the setting is absolutely amazing,the Forestry Commission have obviously "latched on " to the green tourism money spinner that the Red Kite has become in Mid Wales (nothing wrong with that) and have created a marvellous visitor centre complete with shop,cafe,toilets and loads of parking.

They don't charge "per head" as other feeding stations do and a charge of £1.50 per car for allday parking is fantastic value for money,mind you I think they more than make up their money in the cafe judging by the number of people tucking in.

I didn't bother with the 'scope as trying to digi-scope kites on the wing is like trying to knit fog,instead I took along my Fuji f8000 "bridge" camera which with it's 18x zoom gives the equivalent of a 400mm lense on an SLR,ok not the picture quality of a digital SLR but pretty acceptable all the same and a good compromise for the price.

There were kites everywhere as well as Common Buzzards and several Ravens and Carrion Crows.

The setting is spectacular to say the least with the kites being fed on one side of the small lake whilst the assembled spectators watch from the opposite bank.

I spent about 45 mins taking photos and then we wandered back to the visitor centre to thaw out in the comfort of the cafe before having a look at the common woodland species back and fore the hanging feeders prior to leaving.

Ok,we missed the actual feed but that didn't detract from a great day out in a wonderful location and gives us an excuse not that one is needed to visit again.

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