Updated October 2017
35 years ago, Wales had a mere handful of breeding pairs of Red Kites (Milvus milvus), a fact that’s hard to believe when you spend the afternoon at Gigrin Farm with a spiralling mass of over 500 (can be less or a lot more depending on the weather and time of year) of these beautiful raptors filling the sky at feeding time.
Feeding stations have become an important element in the RSPB’s Red Kite conservation programme and since 1992 when Gigrin Farm was first approached, it’s been playing its very important role extremely successfully.
Now a true Welsh tourist attraction, Gigrin Farm is owned and run by Chris and Dominique Powell and consists of 200 acres of land starting at 700 feet and rising to 1200 above sea level located in Rhayader in the Wye and Elan valleys in mid-Wales.
Gigrin Farm is also a 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.
Red Kites are instantly recognisable in flight with their distinctive forked tails (fanned when diving) and striking colour, which is predominantly chestnut red with white patches under the wings and a pale grey head. It’s a medium-large bird of prey (females being slightly larger then the males) in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other raptors such as eagles, buzzards and harriers. Vagrant Red Kites have even reached north to Finland and south to Israel, Libya and Gambia.
FEEDING TIMES AT THE STATION
When the feeding starts there is definitely a pecking order (less so in the winter) with the older birds going first followed by the younger and then juvenile birds. You’ll witness some spectacular aerial acrobatics with amazing displays of twists, turns, diving and feeding on the wing.
SUMMER FEEDING TIMES
3pm last Sunday in March – last Saturday in October
WINTER FEEDING TIMES
2pm last Sunday in October – last Saturday in March
Frequent visitors to the feeding station include a pair of White or Leucistic (reduced pigment) Red Kites. Normally, this would be a distinct disadvantage in the wild but they’ve been accepted here by the other raptors.
OTHER VISITORS TO THE FEEDING STATION
Expect to also see Carrion Crows, Ravens, Rooks, Common Buzzard and Heron, as they also frequent the feeding station.
Gigrin Farm, South Street, Rhayader, Powys LD6 5BL
FARM OPENING TIMES FOR 2017
OPEN 1 January – 30 November
12:30pm to 5pm Tuesday – Sunday
(except OPEN Bank Holiday Mondays and Mondays during the school holidays)
CLOSED 1 December – 26 December
OPEN 27 December – 30 December
12:30 pm to 4pm
- Adults: £6
- Concession: £5
- Children: £4 (with 4yrs and under allowed in Free)
- A family ticket: £18 (2 Adults and 2 children)
Free parking (as well as disabled access to the hides), cafe, picnic area, gift shop, toilets (including disable facilities), campsite and farm trail.
There are 5 main observation hides alongside the feeding field from which to view the kites.
There are a further 4 specialist photographic hides, which are subject to an additional fee.
There are a number of conveniently located hides specifically aimed at photographers and film makers with costs starting at £15pp* for ground level (accessible by wheelchair), rising to £25pp* for the Big Tower Hide. The Big Tower hide can accomodate 6 photographers with tripods or 8 without.
If you would like to experience the action from a different perspective and more close up and personal, then there's the Kite Field hide priced at £45pp*. Please note that photographing the kites from this hide requires a significantly sharper skillset.
These prices include the standard entry fee. *Prices correct as of October 2017
Photographic hides are available Tuesday – Sunday throughout the year EXCEPT for December 23rd- 26th. Whilst hide space may be available to book on the day, it is advisable to pre-book your hide online to avoid disappointment as they can be very popular and spaces in each hide are limited.
All creative, photographic and written content © 2009-2017 Andrew Sproule Photography