The red kite is one of Wales' most majestic birds. These beautiful birds of prey are elegant and graceful as they swoop and soar above the mountains, ever watchful for the next catch. The fact that Red Kites were once on the verge of extinction in Wales, only adds to their mystical air.
We don't spot them here at the Oakeley Arms very often, but you don't have to travel far to find them. These days, there are healthy breeding populations in mid Wales, which is just a short journey from the Oakeley Arms.
The plight of the red kite starts in medieval times, when they were deemed as scavengers and vermin that lived on rubbish and food waste, and indeed in Scotland in the 1400s, King James ordered that Red Kites should all be destroyed, so much were they abhorred. By the early 1900s, there were just a few breeding pairs left in the UK, in South Wales, but since the 1950s, a sustained programme of breeding and protection has enable the red kites of Wales to rise again. Today there are thought to be over 1,000 breeding pairs of red kites in Wales.
One of the best places to see them is at the Bwlch Nant yr Arian feeding centre near Aberystwyth in Mid-Wales. This Forestry Commission site in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains is a favourite spot for the red kites, thanks to the wild woodland and craggy moors.
Image by Tony Hisgett on wikicommons
Bwlch Nant yr Arian was first established as a red kite feeding centre in 1999, and it now attracts around 150 of these wild birds every day. The kites are fed on offcuts of meat from a local butcher, and not only does it provide an essential source of food, but it also encourages the birds to gather together.
Feeding time is quite a spectacle, and not to be missed! Feeding takes place at 2pm every day during the winter months (3pm in the summer).
Find out more at the Forestry Commission website here and read more about the beautiful red kites from the RSPB here.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian is approximately an hour's drive from the Oakeley Arms Hotel. For public transport options see www.traveline-cymru.info or ask staff for assistance.
Image by Chriss Denny on wikicommons