The Red Kite Feeding Centre

The Red Kite is Wales’ favourite bird.  Every Easter when we travel up to Talley keeping an eye out for their forked tails and rusty plumage circling over the fields is something we always do.  Apparently they used to steal clothes from washing lines to make their nests, referenced by Shakespeare in King Lear; “When the Kite builds, look to your lesser linen”.  They had a tough time surviving in most of the UK, but in Wales they reign supreme 🙂

Anyway, up in the fields near Llanddeusant there’s a Red Kite Feeding Centre where every day at 3pm (in summer, 2pm in winter) you can watch them eat.  It only costs £4 for adults (£2 for kids) and is worth every penny, even if you’re not much of a bird watcher!

We took our cameras and went into the hide on the edge of the field and patiently waited in silence with our eyes to the skies…

Then at exactly 3pm they appeared, just as a full bucket of meat and scraps was flung out into the field.  I expected to see a couple maybe, but there were probably at least a hundred circling and swooping!  And once the meat was down it turned into a feeding frenzy!

After about twenty minutes, most of the Kites flew off and so did the other people in the hides with us.  But thanks to a tip off, we stuck around for a little while longer on our own.  The Kites wait for everyone to leave and then they come back for more, and actually come down to land on the field.
So I handed the camera to Sunny, settled down for a cwtch with my new friend and watched the encore.
As well as the Kites we saw a couple of Swallows darting in and out of the hides…

…and it was only when we looked up that we noticed the nest above our heads!

If you’re up in the Brecon Beacons, or around Llandeilo or Sennybridge then it’s absolutely worth taking a detour to visit the Feeding Station.

My Friend the Crow

Sometimes I get caught up in baking something new but then lose my appetite straight after for whatever it is that I’ve made (Does anyone else get that?  Cook’s Curse, I guess…).  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I made a loaf of banana bread that sat out on the kitchen counter for a few days half eaten.  In the end I decided that maybe the birds would like to try it instead, so I broke it up and threw it out into the garden.  A crow was first on the scene and I watched closely as he gobbled up a few pieces and then picked up the rest in his beak and flew away.

So my friendship with the crow began.  He comes back everyday for breakfast and will often just sit up in the tree watching us hang out in the kitchen.  I called him Ragnar (I’m a little obsessed with the TV show Vikings, don’t cha know?).  I hide bits of food under an old coconut half just for him, and he’s clever enough to flip it over with his beak, take the food and then flip it back. 🙂

Newport Wetlands

Last week I went for a walk around Newport Wetlands and ended up getting lost.  And I don’t mean lost in the whimsical wandering sense, I mean, send out a frigging helicopter lost.  I had no idea that the RSPB Wetlands Walk turned into the Wales Coast Path and somewhere past the lighthouse I took a wrong turning and… well, I wandered a couple of miles towards the Severn Bridge without realising.  Oops.  The path became very quiet, very suddenly (what happened to all those “Bird People” with the hats and the binoculars?) and I had to jump a few fences to find my way back.  I got there in the end though and dragged my muddy boots into the RSPB cafe for tea and cake.

The path from the RSPB centre leads through fields of reeds and waterways.  It was so still and quiet when I was there, with the occasional bird chatter coming from somewhere inside the forest of reeds 🙂

Here’s where I took a wrong turning; instead of going back through the woods, I jumped onto the Wales Coast Path and walked off in the wrong direction…!

The RSPB cafe is probably the best place to watch the birds; i.e. in the warm with a hot drink!  It’s right on one of the wetland ponds with plenty of bird feeders placed along the window so you can sit and watch 🙂