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Gigrin Farm

Rhayader, Powys

Featured Location Guide

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Mid Wales is the only area in the UK that didn't loose completely a population of Red Kites, numbers did decrease but some managed to beat extinction. Back in 1989 it is recorded that there were only 54 breeding left in Wales. In the early 1990's 6 red kites were roosting on the farm and Mr Powell the owner was feeding them as and when food was available. In the winter of 1992/3 he was approached by the RSPB to consider becoming the Official Red Kite Feeding station, to allow the young Red Kites to stand a better chance of survival, but also by opening to public that it would hopefully deter people from visiting the nesting sites and disturbing the population. Since then numbers have risen dramatically from around a dozen Red Kites coming in to feed to now at times around 400-500 visiting over the winter months. The Red Kites you see here are all native to Wales and not introductions in fact DNA results carried out on some showed that they had all descended from a single female.

Gigrin Farm is a family run sheep farm of approx. 200 acres. Its land is a minimum of 700ft above

See Larger Image Red Kites can collect the food but prefer to force the other birds to fly and then steal the meat from them.

sea level with parts rising to 1200ft, giving fantastic views over the Wye and Elan valleys in Mid Wales. As well as the Red Kite Feeding station, there is also a Red Kite information centre, picnic areas, a 1.5-2mile nature trail and it's 12 acre woodland is leased to the RSPB for one of their reserves. It is now also a Red Kite Rehabilitation Centre on behalf of the The Welsh Kite Trust.

Kites are large birds and for the photographer offer many opportunities
 coming from different directions in many poses and often more than one at a time.

See Larger Image Click on the small images to see larger versions. See Larger Image

Red Kite Feeding Station. The Red Kites are fed daily at 2pm in Winter and 3pm in Summer, and it is open to the public 364 days a year from 1pm. The feeding station is one particular area which is fenced off to stop the sheep from entering and along one side has the viewing hides, 3 of which are suitable for disabled visitors. The hides face east and are just metres from where the kites swoop down to get the meat. They get through around a quarter of tonne of fresh meat a week. There are also hides that have been specifically designed with photography/filming in mind and two are towers. These specialist hides have additional costs involved in using them and because the numbers of people that can go in them are restricted you should book in advance as they are well used.

The Tower Hide stands up behind the ground level hides and has a partial roof and at the rear a bench, it also has a green line on the floor which you have to stand behind. It has been designed that they tripods can be used and for this reason is limited to 4 people with tripods and 5 without. You should enter this hide at least 10 minutes before the feeding begins and it is recommended that you do not wear coloured clothing that will stand out as it is possible the birds can see you and will be put off coming in. It costs 15 per person to use this hide, however this does include the normal entry fee.

The Big Tower Hide also stands up behind the ground level hides and has a partial roof and at the rear a bench, it also has a green line on the floor which you have to stand behind, but it is larger and stands 1.5m taller. It can accommodate 6 people with tripods and 8 without. You should enter this hide at least 10 minutes before the feeding begins and it is recommended that you do not wear coloured clothing that will stand out as it is possible the birds can see you and will be put off coming in. It costs 20 per person to use this hide, however this does include the normal entry fee.

The Gateway Hide is in the towards the centre of the ground level hides, and is about 12ft closer than the towers. It has a larger aperture than the normal hides, which makes it easier for larger lenses to be used. It costs 10 per person to use this hide but this also includes the normal entry fee and again it is prudent to book in advance if you want to use it as it has a maximum of 6 people allowed.

The Wheelchair Accessible Hide has the same roof arrangements as the tower, the front half having no roof, the rear having cover just in case of unpredictable weather. There are also seats in this hide for an assistant if required. The entrance to the hide is over 850mm wide and there is room to part a vehicle next to the ramp. Its costs 8 per person to use this hide but this does include the normal entry fee and gain it is prudent to book in advance if you want to use it.

All these photographer/filming hides are gated so that only those who have booked a place can enter. You should enter these hides at least 10 minutes before the feeding begins and it is recommended that you do not wear coloured clothing that will stand out as it is possible the birds can see you and will be put off coming in. See the Photography and Filming Hides page on their website for more details.

All the hides are within metres of the feeding area, however there is also a viewing area, near the picnic area, where you can see the birds from above, and from here you get to see the large numbers in the air.

When you visit

It is very popular and it is worth getting there in plenty of time to choose the hide you want to be in and to get a good position in the hide. As you wait for the 2pm/3pm start you will notice in the surrounding fields and trees large numbers of crows, jackdaws and ravens collecting, but also Kites will start to come in and circle round and perch in the nearby trees. At 2pm/3pm the tractor comes along with the meat and it is spread around the feeding area.

Track down to the hides from the car park, you can see the back and side of the hides
 the area in front of them is the fenced in feeding area, and the trees in the centre
 of the picture is where the kites and other large birds tend to collect.

First in is usually the crows they give a signal to the kites that it is safe to come in. Small numbers of kites will then swoop in and grasp the meat in their talons, and held tightly in their feet beneath their tail and fly off. They go really high up into clear airspace and eat whilst flying. Not all swoops in are to grab the meat some will merely swoop low over the crows of ravens heads and will try to make them rise from the field with food so that they can then chase them and rob them in flight. As time progresses numbers get larger and they come in from all angles and fast. They circle, swoop, fly around, come towards you to go over the top of the hides, fly in from left, right and every other angle you can think of. The hardest part is keeping up with what you can see. All these opportunities allow you get photos of them from all sort of angles. You will see some larger birds actually on the ground feeding, these are usually buzzards who also come into feed, very few of the Red Kites actually land preferring to feed whilst in flight high up. In fact when you get home and find in some of your images black dots, at first you may think it's dust, but it may also be just a Red Kite so high up feeding it got into the background of your picture.

The kites you see visiting on the day of your visit are unlikely to have been there the day before as there is a rolling population of red kites during the week. On any day, there is a pecking order within the age groups, and hierarchy of the population and there will usually be gaps of several minutes between their arrival, so once feeding begins some will come in, then go really high up into the sky to feed on what they taken and it will appear to you that they have all gone, but be patient and wait and another batch will come in to provide more photo opportunities.

In many places to see a single Red Kite is a treat, here on occasions the sky is completely full of them.

We have more pictures of the location, hides, birds sitting in the trees waiting, Kites spooking other birds, Buzzards, Kites from all directions and far more within the two picture galleries, Girgrin Farm Gallery and the larger Red Kite Gallery.

You may also get to see the White Kite, which was hatched in 2003 just 30 miles west of Grigin. When it first visited it was chased off by both the true Red Kites and the crows, but now is an accepted member of the feeding group. It is not an albino but a Leucistic, which means it is mainly pure white, but it has not entirely lost it's melanin pigment as it's eyes are blue, where as albinos have pink eyes. In Wales one percent of hatchlings show leucistic tendencies, thought to be because of the small gene pool from which they come. They rarely survive very long in natural conditions, but it is believed that the presence of the feeding station has helped in it's survival.

It is a spectacle worth seeing and we have visited twice now each time being there for at least two hours, and each time it is an awesome site and you come away with loads of pictures which you will slim down the numbers when you get home and look at them in detail. From the last visit in February 2009 between two of us we took over 1,000 photos over two hours and you can see a selection of this in the  Girgrin Farm Gallery and the larger Red Kite Gallery. We could have produced another 5 galleries with the images that we had. All of the images is as taken, we have sectioned and done a little editing but we have not cut and paste or merged any images.

As well as the feeding station area there are other things to see and do on a visit.

The Information/Interpretive Centre has lots of information on Red Kites and other birds and animals found in the locality. A remote camera overlooks the feeding area and you can pan, zoom and focus it. There is a set of 8 water colour paintings which tell the history of the Red Kite. There are videos which show Red Kites in flight and nesting. There is also video of the badgers on the farm. The computers give insights into the various sounds and sights of the local raptors and provide education games and quizzes with an environmental theme.

The small shop has a variety of merchandise, Red Kite themed including postcards, but it also has telescopes and binoculars. During the winter months it also serves hot drinks.

A small bird feeding station is also provided, behind the toilet block, whose visitors include Brambling, Yellow Hammers, Tree Sparrows, Siskin and Goldfinch amongst others.

The Nature Trail starts in the Picnic Area and follows a waymarked trail for 1.5-2miles. It has information boards at various points of the route and some benches are provided on the upward journey. It is recommended that you follow the route clockwise as going backwards may cause you to loose your bearings. Along this there is:

  • a wetland project which attracts wetland birds such as Heron, but also you may see frogs, fish and even a water vole

  • Trout pools which attracts ducks, frogs etc

  • a badger sett

  • Frog Pond

  • Towards the end of the journey you will come across green topped posts and these lead to the RSPB reserve and if you are up to a longer walk this may be an attraction, but it does add a further 3 miles.

Other Wildlife

As well as the Red Kites you also get other birds coming into feed including, crows, jackdaws, ravens and buzzards. If you take the nature trail you may also get to see fish, ducks, frogs and water vole in the ponds and Badgers at the Badger sett on the nature trail

A truly remarkable day out for all the family, and great photo opportunities for the Wildlife Photographer.

 A    is available, which links back to this page and a second gallery features the Red Kite,
with images also taken at the same time.


Further information Grid

 

Location:

Gigrin Farm, Red Kite Feeding Station, Rhayader, Powys

Ceremonial County: Radnorshire

Grid Reference:

SN980677

Map Link:

StreetMap

Aerial photo: Google Aerial

Route(s):

 

Best Times to Visit:

Winter months, in snow if you can get there, there are usually more Red Kites coming in 2008 saw up to 500 coming in to feed, but also reflections on snow and less shadowing on underside of birds. All year round you will get something.

E-mail:

 

Website:

www.gigrin.co.uk

Other useful websites:

 

Nearby Locations:  
Other Relevant pages:

Girgrin Farm

Red Kite  

Where to Photograph Red Kites

Red Kite

 

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Planning Grid

Location:

Gigrin Farm, Red Kite Feeding Station, Rhayader, Powys

Grid Reference:

SN980677

Getting there:

It is just off the A470 just half a mile south of Rhayader and north of Bluith Wells.  From Hereford take the A44 to Rhayader and then so south on the A470 towards Bluith Wells, the road leading to the entrance to the Red Kit Feeding Station will be on your left, and is marked.

Access:

From car park access through the picnic area and down the farm track to the 5 hides.

Parking:

On site free parking 130 metres from hides.

Facilities:

Toilets, shop, exhibition area, picnic area, 1.5-2 mile nature trail walk. Specialist hides for photographers who want to use tripods or have more room, these are charged extra see charges below.

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Red Kites - lots of them at feeding times, small numbers of small garden birds

What to take:

telephoto lenses for close ups. Warm clothes and hot drink most of the year.

Nature highlights:

Red Kites, Buzzards, Crows, Ravens, Jackdaws

Address:

Gigrin Farm

South Street

Rhayader

Powys

Postcode:

LD6 5BL

Telephone:

01597 810243

Opening times:

364 days a year from 1pm. Closed Christmas Day (25th December). See website for times for feeding times, which is when most of the birds are about.

Charges:

Adult 4.50; OAP 3.50; Child 2 (4 and under FREE)

Gateway Hide 10; Tower Hide 15; wheelchair accessible hide 8; Big Tower Hide 20; (these fees include entry fee)

Photo Restrictions:

None

Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: 3 hides are wheelchair friendly with ramps and lower windows. Parking for up to 4 cars is possible right outside the hides, for those not able to walk the 130metres from main car park. Low ramps provide access to shop and Kite Centre information building.
Special Needs Facilities: Disabled toilet, wheelchair accessible photographers hide.
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed: On leads - this is a working farm.

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Further information and Planning Grids or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Classification from the Grids above. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.

 


By: Tracey Park Section: Wildlife Key:
Page Ref: gigrin_farm Topic: Birds Last Updated: 05/2013

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