The Kite cafe

A couple of weeks ago we visited one of my favourite locations, Bwlch Nant yr Arian, a nature reserve a few miles from Aberystwyth. Not only is this a beautiful location to escape to, but a fantastic area to see one of our most stunning birds, the majestic Red Kite.

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Bwlch Nant yr Arian
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The Willowherb which grows in abundance here, dispersing white fluffy seeds.
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The willowherb in bloom, back in the Spring

Red Kites were once persecuted and almost completely wiped out in the UK. Now thanks to conservation efforts and protection, the population of kites is beginning to recover, particularly in Wales.

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Red Kite flying below the treeline

In the 1990s Bwlch Nant yr Arian became an established feeding station to support the small numbers of Red Kites at this time. Nowadays the site supports some 100+ birds who visit daily to take advantage of the supplementary feeding, which takes place once a day in the afternoon. The kites can be seen visiting year round but numbers peak in winter when natural food becomes more scarce.

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Red Kite with a piece of meat it eats on the wing
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Soaring Red Kite
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Many of the Kites have wing tags allowing them to be tracked and monitored.

The area is also an important habitat for many smaller species of birds who can be seen regularly visiting the large bird feeder hanging beside the cafe in the visitor centre.

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Blue Tit landing on the feeder

The time of year and even the time of day will determine which birds visit the feeder, but some of the most abundant are the chaffinches, tits and house sparrows, all competing for the best feeding spots.

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Great Tit
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Chaffinch (male)
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Blue Tit
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Great Tit with wings spread as it descends to the feeder
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A trio of male Chaffinches competing over the food

Beneath the feeder the dense patches of wildflowers and foliage provide these small birds with shelter, natural food and nesting sites. With the sun setting several birds were making the most of the remaining patches of sunshine to warm themselves before the temperatures fell.

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House Sparrow (male)
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Blue Tit
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House Sparrow (juvenile)
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House Sparrow (male)

All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2018 ©
www.greyfeatherphotography.com

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