Gigrin Farm Red Kite Feeding Station

27th July 2008
I finally managed to get a weekend free for some wildlife photography. I was intending to head over to Norfolk but as the kids have broken up from school and the summer holiday season is in full swing I thought better of it.
So instead I decided to head over to Wales to a place called Gigrin Farm. Gigrin farm is a Red Kite feeding station which has helped re-introduce these fantastic birds of prey back into the wild.

I gave a couple of mates a call to see if they were interested in coming along before I phoned Gigrin to book the Tower Hide. At Gigrin they have 2 photographic hides which need to be pre-booked before arrival. Both mates were keen to come along so I booked the tower hide and prepared my gear.
Feeding at Gigrin starts at 3pm and the farm opens at 1pm so there was no rush to cover the 170 miles to get there.

We arrived at Gigrin with plenty of time to spare, paid our money for the hide ( 15 pound each ) and headed down to the Tower Hide to set up.

The view from the Tower Hide.

Mark and Phil waiting for the action to begin.

3pm on the dot the food arrived for the Red Kites.

They feed the Red Kites on human grade beef, 1/4 tonne a week.

No sooner had the tractor left, the sky started to fill with Red Kites.

In the summer months they have anywhere from 200 to 250 birds turn up but come winter the numbers can reach up to 400. It's an amazing sight to see so many of these birds in such a tiny piece of sky.

Photography can be a nightmare though, you have a few factors against you. (1) Exposure, if you expose for the sky you blow the highlights when the birds fly against the hill side. If you expose for the hill side you get dark silhouettes when the birds fly with the sky as the background.
I normally concentrate on one at a time or set my exposure on 0 and hope I get away with it.. :-)
(2) The backgrounds can be a problem, Sheep are all over the hill side and every fence post has a Crow or Raven perched on it giving you white and black blobs in your images. You can clone the odd one out but I had a loads of images that ended up binned due to this problem.
(3) The amount of Red Kites, sometimes you can't get a clear shot and they're bloody fast but this is a problem I can live with.

Fence posts without Crows perched on them can be a problem too as in these images.

Even the Barbed wire can show up.

I did managed a few clean shots too.

There was a White Kite too, which was a bit different from the norm.

I was trying my hardest to get a decent image of a Red Kite in dive mode, they fly about in circles before suddenly swooping down to grab the food and they're so quick most of the time I missed it.

The competition for food can end up in fights.

All in all the day wasn't too bad but I still haven't got the images I was after so it looks like I'll be having a few more visits to Gigrin which I highly recommend to anyone.