Saturday, January 09, 2010

Kitefest at Gigrin Farm : Jan 2010

Saturday morning 9th January saw myself and Neil meet up at the Harvester car park at Llandarcy to take advantage of the glorious winter weather and head north to Rhyader and Gigrin Farm Kite Feeding Station in the hope of catching up with the recently arrived Black Kite together with the feeding spectacle of the hundreds of Red Kites that turn up for the afternoon feeds.
Both the A465 and A470 were clear of snow as was the B road across the common from Penderyn although the countryside was a picture postcard snowscape.
We picked up two Red Kites as we approached Brecon and another two as we turned off onto the A470 north of Brecon for Builth Wells and as we approached Rhayader the numbers steadily increased.
We turned off the A470 at the Brynafon Hotel who were kindly letting visitors to Gigrin use their car park and made our way along the snow and ice covered track only to find a Ford Mondeo making a valiant but rather foolish attempt to get up to the farm blocking our way.
The driver thought he was in with a chance with a push from ourselves and despite our best efforts he had to concede and make his way back down to the hotel car park.
The Jeep flew up the track effortlessly and we were the first vehicle to arrive,Chris the owner introduced himself and we parked up for a coffee and a bite to eat.
Soon after another two 4x4s arrived carrying yet more Glamorgan birders and out tumbled Paul Bowden,Glyn Roberts,Matt Evans,Mark Duttfield,Rob Gaze,Martin Bevan,Phil Hill and Martin Bell all armed with an assortment of 'scopes,cameras and video recorders.
We made our way along the snow covered track to the hides and scanned the sky and trees which were dripping with Red Kites waiting for the feed to commence,in one of the trees was perched the leucistic "White" kite which has been a regular visitor to the feeding station for a number of years.
At precisely 2.00pm Chris arrived with his tractor and the feeding frenzie commenced with the sky full of acrobatic swooping kites interspersed with a few Common Buzzards,some Ravens and lots of Carrion Crows.
Gigrin Farm is probably the best place in the UK if not the world to see and photograph Red Kites although I don't know if I agree with Andy Rouse's suggestion that "it is too easy and anyone can get a good Red Kite photo at Gigrin".
For a novice such as myself there are probably too many birds in the air at one time criss-crossing with eachother,having said that I couldn't wait to have a go with my new camera and big lens.
I'd only seen one Black Kite previously in the UK which was the Black-Eared Kite over in Norfolk at this time of year a few years ago and was keen to catch up with this bird.
It put in a few fleeting appearances but moved through the feeding field very quickly,but as time went on and the Red Kites started to thin out and disperse it seemed to seize it's chance and was almost the last kite to remain feeding challenged only by the corvids,does that mean it's down the pecking order from the Red Kites and it feels intimidated by their large numbers ?
It made several passes close to the hides and gave amazing views,it really put on a 5 star show.
We filled our boots with some great views and just before leaving the hide the bird perched up in a nearby tree to enjoy what must have been a welcome meal.
The feed came to an end and as the Red Kites dispersed the Black Kite disappeared over the hides prompting us to call it a day and make our way back to the Jeep for a welcome cuppa and chat with the rest of the Glamorgan lads before departing for home.
As we made our way down the track the other lads were on the Black Kite again which had perched up in a tree in a nearby field giving more excellent 'scope views as it sat with several Red Kites.

What a brilliant day out,Gigrin Farm never ceases to amaze me and the facilities there are second to none,to see so many kites in such wonderful snow covered scenery was a treat,but to get such amazing views of a Black Kite as well was really "the icing on the cake".


Rob said...

On the evidence of the photos the new camera and big lens seem a good investment,well done Jeff cracking shots.

Jeff said...

Cheers Rob,it was a cracking day out and I sure was pleased with some of the shots

Wayne said...

Nice one. I like the head-on shot of the black kite. Really gives a sense of the bird using its tail as a 'rudder'.

Jeff said...

Cheers Wayne,there's a head on shot by Richard Stonier on Birdguides,he was there at the same time as me.
His shot is fantastic,it's a pity though that we didn't have any sunshine as some sun would have made the photos a lot more atmospheric.