Trip reports

Visit to Elan Valley and Gigrin Farm

Visit to Elan Valley and Gigrin Farm
Red kite at Gigrin Farm (Photo: Steve McAusland)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Starting off in cool, but dry weather at 7am, our coach journey took us through a mixture of rain, sleet, snow and sunshine!

First stop was Elan Valley where we had a few hours taking in the beautiful scenery albeit in different weather conditions! It is an area stretching 72 square miles with historic landscapes and plenty of wildlife. The dams and reservoirs were built to service the citizens of Birmingham and are a reminder of remarkable Victorian engineering.

Birds seen here were peregrine falcon, raven, buzzard, red kite, kestrel, meadow pipit, pied wagtail, grey wagtail, robin, dunnock, song thrush, blue tit, great tit, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow, black-headed gull, woodpigeon, pheasant and chaffinch.

There were two pairs of birds seen here, firstly, peregrines as we watched one perch high above on a rock and the second was viewed flying high about a quarter of a mile further away scanning the area. Secondly, observed for some time and building a nest (more like a small bonfire) was a pair of raven, huge in size when seen in close proximity to a passing buzzard and red kite.

From here we went to Gigrin Farm a famous feeding site for Red Kites set in the wonderful countryside in the heart of Wales.

Our field trip leaders had a large hide reserved for the group which gave everyone the perfect spot to watch what turned out to be one of the most amazing birding spectacles I've seen.

At 2pm a tractor arrived in front of all the hides where upon the driver began to throw raw meat out across the site. As soon as this began the circling red kites started to drop in to take their feed, followed by buzzard, raven and rook. There was also a white (leucistic) kite amongst the birds.

The noise of cameras along with gasps and wows didn't make the slightest bit of difference to the birds as they continued for almost an hour to swoop down and take the food, neither strangely did the presence of two farm cats who sat for a short while watching the diving birds.

In a field at the back of the feeding area I caught sight of a red fox vixen and she didn't seem to be bothered about the mayhem that was happening to her left.

The walk back to the coach gave up a bullfinch which was hidden deep within a small tree and was very camera shy. Not a day with high numbers of different bird species, however, for one species it was truly spectacular and their number seemed to be well over a hundred kites!

Another successful day of birding.

Steve McAusland