The Red Kite at Gigrin
We left mum's for the couple of hour
journey to Gigrin Farm, we had been told huge numbers
came to feed every day at three, nothing could prepare us for the sight of
hundreds of red kite soaring
Gigrin is a family run upland sheep farm of approximately two hundred acres,
owned and farmed by Chris Powell and Mrs. Lena Powell. The land is at seven
hundred rising to twelve hundred feet above sea level giving wonderful
views of the Wye and Elan valleys here in mid-Wales. Gigrin became the Official
Red Kite Feeding Station in the winter 1992/93 following a request from the RSPB
who had witnessed the late Mr Powell feeding the kites as and when food - rabbit
was available. The RSPB had noted this spectacle and came to the farm with a
proposal - that the farm should open to the public as the red kite
feeding station as it would have an impact on the young kites that were being
lost over the winter and would also draw people away from nesting sites where
losses occurred due to the disturbance. This was a major step into the unknown
for what was a very successful livestock farm but Mr. Powell had the foresight
to take on the challenge and the farm is now far better known for the red kites
than anything else.
Around 6 red kites were roosting on the farm at that
time but by the winter of 2006 over four hundred were coming in for food in the
winter. Red kites, being hungry when they awake, will hunt for food during the
morning and early afternoon, so Gigrin is here as a top up or emergency ration.
The kites we saw visiting are unlikely to have been here the day before as
there is a rolling population of red kites during the week. This is similar to
the feeding on any day, as there is a pecking order within the age groups etc.
and will usually have gaps of several minutes between their arrival at the
feeding station. The aftermath of Foot & Mouth in 2001 brought with it
licensing for the feeding of the kites with meat. Part of the stipulations led
to the kite feeding area being fenced off from the grazing pasture. This is to
prevent the sheep ingesting grass on which there may be residues of the meat fed
to the kites and not, as some would like to believe, any problems with kites and
is now also the Red Kite Rehabilitation Centre
in conjunction with The Welsh Kite Trust. This unit allows kites, that
have fallen ill or been injured, to recuperate after having any required
veterinary care elsewhere. Gigrin had its first patient on
1st January 2003.
here in Wales have risen from two hundred and fifty nine in 2000 to five
hundred and sixty eight that are monitored and an estimated population between
seven hundred and fifty to nine hundred.
ALL IN ALL