It has been over a year now since my first visit to the Red Kite feeding station at Gigrin Farm. This farm, perched high on the side of a steep sided valley (close to the town of Rhayader), is in a beautiful spot and it provides a wildlife spectacular. I love the relaxed nature at the farm, on your arrival you pay to enter the small car park and then you head off to the hides to await an exhilerating couple of hours of wildlife photography heaven.
A quick tip to anyone who has not visited Gigrin Farm, if you are really keen on photography then make sure you pay the small extra charge and utilise the photography hides. They make it much easier to get the shots you are after with a lot more space, especially if you are wielding a large lens.
The feeding station provide the Kites with prime cut beef and the birds sometimes arrive in huge numbers to make the most of this feast. The fascinating thing for me, is the social structure of the feeding. There are birds who are more 'senior' to some of the others and they bully them into submission. There are also a variety of different feeding behaviours; some birds do the traditional swoop at an extremely high speed and grab the scraps of meat, some swoop down and flush the Carrion Crows into the air so they can steal the meat of off them and finally some individuals stay high and mob the successful Kites as they return to the skies with their prize.
The agility of the Red Kite is absolutely incredible, they can be cruising along and suddenly flick the tail and turn into a near vertical dive, it seems as if sometimes they even go upside down. It is hard to predict the dives as they go in groups, almost as if they are Stuka dive bombers, and then for minutes there might not be a single bird going down towards the ground. The hardest thing, as a photographer, is to try and stick with one bird. If you don't stick with one individual then the auto-focus just isn't quick enough. It has taken me three visits but I think I have finally got the technique right, the number of sharp photos increased dramtically. Perhaps on my next visit, I will get an even larger number of shots in focus, especially if I get my planned camera upgrade.
There are loads more images from the photo session but for now I will leave you with these. Keep an eye over the next couple of days when I will post the next batch.