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Sep 2013

Forest Visitor Centre and daily feeding of red kites.

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It's pointless asking for directions to Bwlch Nant yr Arian simply because you can't[1]. Just head ten miles east of Aberystwyth on the roller coaster ride that is the  A44 and pull in opposite this windy setup.

Opposite Bwlch Nant yr Arian

There's a Visitor Centre here with a café and the obligatory knick-knacks. Outside, they've laid on some cycling and walking trails but the place is probably most popular for its feeding of the local red kites.

[1] You could, however, ask for the way to the mountain pass with the silver river.

They do this daily, 2 or 3 PM depending on the season, and you can watch all of this from behind the glass in the Visitor Centre.

If you're lucky and you've got the sun for company, take yourself out around the lake. There's no need there to jostle and you won't have to give that window a wipe.

Bwlch Nant yr Arian - Carduelis spinus

Just outside the Visitor Centre, a taste of what's to come. A not-so-shy, little siskin nibblin' on a pumpkin seed from the feeder.

There's a pay and display that funds the feeding although you can pull up for free in a nearby lay-by. If you go that route, however, you'll be getting a tap on your window and a 'Really?'

A lady appears with a bag full of meat on the turn and scatters it on the lawn. She's looking up at something? What could that be?...

Bwlch Nant yr Arian - Feeding Time Bwlch Nant yr Arian - Feeding Time

Ooh, hello! That'll be the red kites.

In they swoop, over 150[1] of them, some of them commuting in from ten miles away.

Bwlch Nant yr Arian - Feeding Time

If you get here early, you'll see them starting to circle, they just know it's teatime! Red kites are natural scavengers and feed mainly on leftovers taking just the occasional live mouse or vole.

Your average gamebird isn't in on that fact, nor for that matter, the gamekeeper and they've been poisoned to near extinction since the times of the Tudors.

[1] It's reckoned but you too will lose count after about forty-odd.

Recent reintroductions, including the one around here, mean there are now estimated to be 1,600 breeding pairs in pockets around the UK making it good business for the local butchers.

Bwlch Nant yr Arian - Milvus milvus

Up to eighty inches wide with a distinctive forked tail, not that you'd know that if you didn't already, this is the best that could be done today.

Once the KFC[1]'s all out of takeaway... 'And like that,  poof. They're gone.'

The site is managed by Natural Resources Wales, a Welsh Assembly funded organisation that replaced the Forestry Commission. Whatever the politics, they've laid on some trails so take yourself up for a fine view west looking back towards the coast.

Near Bwlch Nant yr Arian

Also look down on their natural habitat and wonder just where they all went? They're in there somewhere, having a nap after tea but unlike this one, just not in front of the TV.

[1] Kite Feeding Centre.