Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Wed 26 May 2010 21:05
The Red Kite at Gigrin Farm
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
The 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 sheep.
Gigrin 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.
Numbers 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 SPECTACULAR