The Gigrin is a family run upland sheep farm of approximately 200 acres. The land is 700 feet rising to 1200 above sea level giving us wonderful views of the Wye and Elan valleys here in mid-Wales.
Gigrin became the Official Red Kite Feeding Station in the winter 1992/93 following a request from the RSPB who had witnessed the late Mr Powell feeding the kites as and when food (rabbit) was available.
The RSPB had noted this spectacle and came to the farm with a proposal – that we should open to the public as the red kite feeding station as it would have an impact on the young kites that were being lost over the winter and would also draw people away from nesting sites where losses occurred due to the disturbance.
This was a major step into the unknown for what was a very successful livestock farm but Mr Powell had the foresight to take on the challenge and the farm is now far better known for the red kites than anything else. Around 6 red kites were roosting on the farm at that time but by the winter of 2006 over 400 were coming in for food.
Red kites, being hungry when they awake, will hunt for food during the morning and early afternoon, so Gigrin is here as a top up, or emergency ration.
The kites you see visiting are unlikely to have been here the day before as there is a rolling population of red kites during the week.
This is similar to the feeding on any day, as there is a pecking order within the age groups etc. and will usually have gaps of several minutes between their arrival at the feeding station.
Red kites and baby lambs.
Red kites do not look at baby lambs with anything but curiosity. Given the suspicion of some that they would be a threat we decided to feed the kites in the very same field as our yearling ewes (the worst of mothers). At no time did the kites cause us any worries about the safety of the new born lambs. Ravens and Carrion crows were of course a different matter..
The aftermath of Foot & Mouth in 2001 brought with it licensing for the feeding of the kites with meat. Part of the stipulations led to the kite feeding area being fenced off from the grazing pasture. This is to prevent the sheep ingesting grass on which there may be residues of the meat fed to the kites and not, as some would like to believe, any problems with kites and sheep.
Gigrin is now also the Red Kite Rehabilitation Centre in conjunction with The Welsh Kite Trust. This unit allows kites, that have fallen ill or been injured, to recuperate after having any required veterinary care elsewhere. We had our first patient on 1st January 2003.