Gigrin Farm in Powys became the Red Kite Feeding Station in 1993, following a request from the RSPB. The daily feeding of the birds – often hundreds of pairs – is an extraordinary sight and an increasingly popular attraction.
The site is a working farm, so unsurprisingly access isn’t perfect, but significant measures have been taken, and it is worth the effort to see this natural spectacle. Visitors can head to several kite-viewing hides just before feeding time, and watch as a quarter of a tonne of beef is distributed to the waiting birds which have flown in from the surrounding countryside. What follows is a riot of colour and noise as the kites – resplendent-looking raptors in chestnut, white and black plumage – vie with other birds for the food that has been scattered, and perform natural aerobatics that have become an entertaining feature of the visit. If you’re lucky, you may also see buzzards, which often land to feed on the ground. The well-stocked shop is worth visiting, but the information and display area is in a separate two-storey building: the ground floor is split level, but has two separate entrances that allow access to the whole of the lower floor. Although steps to the upper floor leave some displays out of bounds to wheelchair users, they present no deterrent to the main event – seeing the kites being fed.
Gigrin Farm is accessed by a single-track tarmac road. There are no disabled bays – in fact, there’s no formal parking area at all – and the space available is on a gentle gradient. The main area between the buildings has been tarred and there are no access problems across it or into any of the buildings, all of which have level access. If you need to, you can ask the staff for permission to park in one of the four spaces adjacent to the ramped entrance to the viewing hides. The accessible hides have designated low viewing points for wheelchair users and a new wheelchair-accessible hide, designed for keen photographers with large cameras, can now be reserved online (www.gigrin.co.uk/hide).
Food & drink: When it’s your feeding time, try the wheelchair-accessible Carole’s Cake Shop and Tearoom (01597 811 060) on West Street in Rhayader. Alternatively, on summer afternoons an on-site café sells sandwiches, cakes and hot and cold drinks.