And so, almost 6 months after the event, I at last come to the final instalment of my blogging about our trip to Wales back in May.
This excursion was inspired by a comment that someone had put in the visitor book at Glan Leri, the cottage that we were staying in at Talybont. Apparently, only a few miles down the road is Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest offers a range of outdoor activities, with a number of walking and mountain biking trails, a visitor centre and a cafe. What attracted us, however, was the fact that it is also a red kite feeding station. We thought that was worth a look!
We arrived at Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre well before the appointed feeding time of 3pm. This meant that we had time to try out the cafe and then take a wander around one of the less challenging walking trails.
The walk was very pleasant, with good views over Melindwr Valley. The trail wound through trees and climbed to an impressively large wooden seat, before dropping down to the shore of a lake.
As we descended, the trees became more sparse with obvious signs of tree felling everywhere. I am sure that this is managed forestry in action, but it looked desolate: reminiscent of that part of Lord of the Rings where the evil wizard Saruman and his Orcs tear down the trees around Isengard to feed the furnaces.
We arrived at the lake to find our first birds of the day: a pair of geese with three chicks. A perilous existence you might think given the imminent arrival of many hungry kites.
We took another stop at the cafe for more refreshments and some bird watching, which is a simple business due to a number of very large bird feeders situated just a few feet from the cafe’s deck.
Finally feeding time was approaching, so we chose a vantage point and waited.
After a while birds started to appear: small black dots circling high in the sky.
They started to circle lower and could be distinguished as red kites. At first they descended in ones and twos, then more came. There were dozens; perhaps even hundreds of birds circling above us. Apparently as many as 150 kites come to feed from within a 10 mile radius, and it wasn’t hard to believe that there were at least that many.
Not bad considering when the feeding station was set up in 1999 there weren’t many red kites remaining in the area.
At the allotted hour some brave souls appeared on an island in the middle of the lake bearing food. The kites wasted no time swooping in to feed in a dramatic flurry of wings, beaks and talons: an incredible sight.
And then, after some time, the food had gone so the kites started to disperse: circling higher and higher until they were once again no more than black dots. And then they were gone. The show was over for another day.
Hopefully the chicks kept their heads down.