Gigrin Farm - Red Kites
Red kites were once close to extinction in the UK but a long running conservation programme has achieved a tremendous turn around and the population has grown considerably. Gigrin Farm, in mid-Wales, has been operating as a kite feeding station for many years now. The owners have built a number of hides from where the public can observe the action including some specialist photography hides that put the photographer the eye level of the kites.
As a wildlife spectacle Gigrin is pretty impressive. They frequently have hundreds of kites in attendance for the afternoon feeding sessions and getting to see these handsome birds at close quarters and in such numbers is a real treat.
In the summer months kite feeding begins at 3pm and in the winter at 2pm. I've visited Gigrin twice, once in March and once in July, there were large numbers of kites present both time. According to the Gigrin Farm website, the number of kites is highest in winter especially during cold weather. However, they also note that for photographers it can often be easier to get shots in the summer when there are less birds around as they are generally more relaxed then and make for easier targets.
Gigrin has a number of photography hides that can be pre-booked by e-mail (see their webite for details, a link is on the right hand side of this page). I've used the 'big tower' hide twice now and found it to give a very good view on the action. There is plenty of room to setup a tripod if you wish to use one.
The photography hides get you quite close to the birds. Using crop cameras (Canon 7D) I've mainly used focal lengths between 300mm and 420mm on my two visits. There are some many birds at Gigrin that a wide range of focal length lenses would probably allow you to get some shots as at times the birds do come very close to the hides. The hides are positioned so that the sun is behind them giving ideal lighting for photographing the birds (assuming the sun is out of course!).
There is a small shop at Gigrin Farm where you can buy water and ice cream. There are also toilets there.