Friday, 21 April 2017

Two Days in Kite Country, and back to the Local Raptors

Last month i left Dorset :-[ .. For the first time since my Devon trip to tog Cirl Buntings, i risked breakdown, home sickness, and constipation just for the chance of a shot of the Welsh Red Kites. In spite of these many misgivings, i was sort of looking forward to seeing these magnificent birds in their homeland. Needless to say, the trip was fraught with unfortunate incident, as is always the case when i cross borders. The first one being, when i got into the wrong lane on the Severn Bridge,,, nuff said, but the signage was very poor there, and got worse as i pushed ever deeper into the land of the dragon.
After hours of driving we arrived at the feeding station at Llanddeusant, which i feel compelled to recommend to Kite toggers, because of the ample elbow room (about a dozen people), the low entry price, and the 'stay as long as you like' greeting i received upon paying. It seemed to be run by a diversifying farmer and his partner, who marched out during the brightest period of the dark, dismal day, and chucked a bucketful of chicken portions about.
The display was spectacular, and the togging challenging in the poor light, but i managed to come away with two or three hundred shots,, some of which were reasonable. Minutes later the skies got even darker, and the rain set in,,, for the next two days. On the day i had planned to search for Choughs, the rain was horizontal, coupled with swirling fog, and gusts. The ten to fifteen minutes with the Red Kites proved to be the highlight of the trip, and on the third day i was glad to point the old bus at Dorset, and beat a hasty retreat from the Welsh hills. Skillfully avoiding the bridge on the way home, we called in at Slimbridge for a look, but my heart wasn't in it, and the sphincter was pleading with me to please cross the border into Dorset. I don't travel well.

On my return to the mother county, i spent a couple of mornings at RSPB Radipole Lake, Weymouth, where they have constructed a new viewing screen between two of the northern scrapes. At first i thought that this would get me nice and close to the resident Marsh Harriers, at a time when the males are display flying, and pair bonding. It seems tho' that the birds in question have a set distance that they feel comfortable with, and i've not, as yet been able to get much better shots, than i was getting from the viewing point that is set further south, or from Radipole Park Drive.

Now that the spring migration is in full swing, i'm experiencing the usual equipment niggles. My 300mm f4 VR is making horrible noises that are still under investigation, and a flies leg has appeared on the D7200s sensor. On the bright side, my sphincter has settled down again, after the Wales foray. All have a brilliant spring,,, i'm getting the urge to take some bluebell landscapes.


  1. Have to agree 100% Frank about the Llanddeusant Red Kites. A much better experience than Gigrin Farm and Nant Yr Arian and probably on a par with Argaty in Scotland. I don't imagine your sphincter will allow you to cross the border into Sturgeon Land to sample that site though.

  2. About time you posted another blog Frank - I needed a good laugh, and as usual you gave me one (thanks). Much better than 'clothes pegs' as your last post and certainly more entertaining. I have a feeling that it won't be long before you'll be able to photograph Red Kites more locally as we're starting to see more around the general Blandford to Sixpenny Handley area. I was driving back from Radipole the other day and spotted one hunting across a field close to the A35 and because I was on my own with the camera on the passenger seat was able to pull on to the verge and snatch a few shots out the window. If I'd been on foot I'm sure I would have got some good images of that particular bird. But, of course that's easy to say as it would still be a case of being in the right place at the right time. Until there are more in the area, a trip out to one of the Kite Feeding stations is the best bet. I'm just glad you dusted off the passport and made the trip. Very adventurous of you and, from what you said, it seems as though you stayed overnight! But, the one thing that really impressed me was that for a man who would prefer to walk miles rather to pay to park that you happily gave money to cross the bridge. The old joke of course is that they should let you in for free and make you pay to leave! As for Slimbridge, we've never been, so perhaps we might try to replicate your little adventure one day. Anyway, we've now thawed out from Finland and I've just about finished the decorating so I'm sure that our paths will cross again soon. In fact, just looking at your shots of that gorgeous Sparrowhawk makes me want to jump in the car and get down to Portland.


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