Fifteen Days Out in South Wales: Gigrin Farm

Everywhere we live wild predators are persecuted, both in the vicious attempt to raise the number of game for shooting (often farm raised “game” released exclusively for shooting) and in the misguided belief that killing predators can count as a form of ecological balance in anthropized environments (it does not work like that, killing wild predators actually produces further imbalance).

The only place where controlling predators makes sense is New Zealand, because New Zealand drifted away from Australia before the evolution of mammals so kiwi native birds are helpless against introduced predators such as mice. Sadly, not removing these predators would lead to a very quick extinction of native birds.

So it’s a rare experience on our planet to be in a place where wild predators are actually protected.

Gigrin Farm in South Wales is a feeding and rehabilitation center for red kites, that are slowly coming back from the brink of extinction. Every day at 2 o’clock (Simon King has an excellent kite o’clock web cam) local meat is laid out in the fields for the wild kites. It’s not their main meal, it’s more of a reliable top-up since a kite will tend to hunt in the morning and then to visit Gigrin when it needs to, normally once every few days.

It starts in the late morning, when you begin to notice maybe a kite or two circling the sky on your head somewhere else in South or Mid Wales and you wonder whether you’re going to see them later at Gigrin Farm. Then you get to Gigrin and the kites are flying very high in the sky, very slow, maybe a dozen of them. When you get into the hide it’s all very quiet. The meat is ready so first come the crows and a couple of domestic peacock. It’s strangely quiet really. Then there’s a kite, then another, and in twenty minutes you’re in a whirlwind of kites.

It’s huge.