Trip reports

Visit to the Elan Valley and Gigrin Farm

Visit to the Elan Valley and Gigrin Farm
Red Kite at Gigrin Farm (Photo: Alan Lunn)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The weather forecast said rain later but they got it wrong again. Nearing Rhyadar it started, fortunately only light showers. The Elan Valley was grey and chilly after leaving the warm comfort of the Visitor Centre. We trudged up the valley towards the dam through a heavy shower.

From the dam wall Ken spotted a pair of peregrine perched on a rocky outcrop, the female visibly bigger than the male alongside. Pipits were calling and so did a passing grey wagtail. Back down in the valley a few lucky group members observed a high flying hen harrier passing over.

After meeting back in the dry warmth of the visitor centre restaurant we boarded the coach and headed for Gigrin Farm. Suddenly, out of a roadside field a kite suddenly rose up above the hedgerow and Pete the driver shouted "What! the hell is that? It's huge?" "That's what we've come to see" we answered.

On arrival Chris Powell the son of the Feeding Station mastermind greeted us, gave a brief introduction and handed us leaflets.

A hide had been reserved and we settled in to watch the gradual build up of bird species which included rooks, ravens, carrion crows, buzzards and of course kites.

A pair of rooks displayed on the grass in front of us giving a performance similar to a lek and a raven bounced around comically.

The tractor was heard approaching and so the number of birds increased, with kites coming in from all directions and buzzards circling on thermals high above them in the now clear blue sky.

Chris shovelled the chopped beef onto the first feeding area and as he headed to the next, already the kites were swooping in and snatching it off the ground, corvids moved in but were continually scattered by the kites. Eventually a couple of buzzards landed to feed, ducking as the kites swooped over them. As the feeding quietened down we vacated the hide and headed back towards the car park and the waiting coach.

Just as the coach was about to leave somebody shouted 'white kite' and everybody piled off again with the photographers leading the charge. A leucistic kite had arrived at the feeding site and swept back and forth below us showing its very pale plumage to good effect.

Peter and Lesley Berrill