Red Kite Feeding
The Red Kite Feeding
We arrived to set up in the high hide and watched as the feeding area was mown in readiness for three o'clock
The highest hide was twenty pounds with limited numbers. When it was just the two of us left we went and tried out all the others
About forty people watched the first day and twenty the second day - in hides or on the field next to the feeding area. Simon all set on my Wimberley Gimbal
At three the noise of the crows and the activity in the air rose as the meat wagon arrived
We could smell the meat from the hide. This 'fit for human consumption' beef bought in anything upward of a quarter of a tonne per week depending on the time of the year.
How to Identify Red Kites
When viewed at distance red kites can usually be distinguished from buzzards by their pattern of flight, a buzzard will often put in a succession of three short flaps as if thinking itself in danger of falling from the sky. Red kites will more often glide for long distances and even when action becomes inevitable their deep wing beat can look quite lethargic. The red kite wings turn back at the end while those of a buzzard are held slightly forward and are shorter. The tail of a kite will also look longer that of the buzzards when in flight. The fork of a kites tail is not that pronounced at all times, as the tail is often broadened to facilitate the rudder like movements that allow the bird so much agility in the air. The fork is most often seen when the kite is flying in a relaxed manner and in a straight line.
The Red Kite Feeding Station
Wild Red Kites are fed at Gigrin Farm every day of the year. With breathtaking feats of aerial piracy red kites compete with buzzards and ravens for choice pickings. Feeding takes place at 3pm British Summer Time and 2pm winter - no-one tells the kites that the clocks change. The crows are first to turn up in trees around the feeding area and make it quite a noisy affair with the calls of jackdaws and carrion crows and the deep 'cronking' of ravens. Buzzards and red kites circle overhead; buzzards are far more vocal than kites, their powerful 'mewing' carrying a long way.
With the meat clutched in its talons the kite
will make for clear airspace where it can feel secure enough to feed. With
its six foot wings spread out for stability the head turns down to
meet with its forward lifted legs. Now the kite can feed, but must still keep an
eye out for other marauding kites. The
number of kites using the feeding station can vary anything from a few dozen to
five hundred or more depending on weather and time of year. With the onset of
bad weather numbers can increase dramatically, but on blue sky days in spring or
summer they may well take their time in coming for their lunch.
Next it was time for the teenagers who spent a long time playing, diving and bombing each other before the serious game of feeding. There is a definite "pecking order" as the older kites are frequently the first to come in, while other red kites will arrive in growing groups as the afternoon unfolds. After most visitors had left we found many more species arrive - magpie, blackbird, even a redstart. Larger numbers and more leisurely red kites arrived around 5pm and as we left at 6 there were still birds to watch but Bear's knee was playing up and it was getting really cold, so off we went to the Brynafon Hotel opposite.
The spectacular flying skills and the speed was breathtaking to watch
I "pinged" to this lady who answered me, then we watched until she took off to soar high above us
ALL IN ALL WHAT AN INCREDIBLE COUPLE OF DAYS
AMAZING TO WATCH