Following my trip to Cornwall, we headed north to Pembrokeshire, a beautiful county of Wales. We stayed in a lovely AirBnB which has resident foxes, badgers, buzzards and red kites, to name but a few. Photography was not the main focus of this trip, as we were just there to recuperate after a stressful few months but I can never leave my camera behind so managed to capture some shots.
We drove through the stunning countryside along the beautiful coastline making various stops along the way. One of our stops was Tenby, a busy and colourful town.
The next day we drove to the second most southern point, parking at Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre. After a short walk, we reached the cliffs and could see the islands just off shore (Well I say see, just about make out through the fog). One of which was Skomer Island where I had planned to visit this year to photograph Puffins. Definitely a bitter sweet moment.
We were pretty fortunate when hiking along the cliffs, to see a variety of wildlife.
I also saw some Chuffs and a Marsh Harrier but didn't manage to capture a worthy shot to share.
When reading about the AirBnB they mentioned a short walk through a forest to a pictuesque river. Having heard of dippers, kingfishers and otters in the area I decided to check it out. Despite not seeing any of these, I was blown away by the beauty of the forest and river. Everything was overgrown, moss clinging to every surface and ivy hanging from above. On the way down, a few bats flew overhead. It was not an easy river to access however, and a little to my girlfriends surprise I was clambering down almost immediately. This is the moment where I was very glad to have my ND filters, as I could really capture the movement of the river.
This time we went to the most southerly point in Wales, St Davids. After looking around the smallest city in Britain, we took a boat trip around Ramsey Island. It is home to many sea birds and seals but we had missed most of the breeding season. We did manage to see; Porpoises, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, a Peregrine Falcon and quite a few seals.
Our final day had me driving 2 hours to the Red Kite Feeding Station in Rhayader. Wales has the largest population of Red Kites in the UK and it really showed. We saw dozens of red kites along the way. This whole day was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. I booked the Big Tower Hide so I was high up with the Kites. I have got lots of photos looking up at them so I was determined to get some eye level shots of them in action.
If you are interested in going I would highly recommend getting there early and having a stroll around the walk they have there. In the hour leading up to the feeding time, they start to land in the trees. I was there early but was worried about missing the spectacle. Gives me a good excuse to go back.
I was expecting the photos to be easy and pretty much guaranteed but what followed was 2 hours of some of the toughest and most intense photography I have ever done. After the food had been placed, around 500 Red Kites circled above. Suddenly one would dive and they would all follow. I just had know idea where to point my camera. In the confusion, I missed the change in light and my settings were slightly wrong, meaning the first round of shots weren't quite sharp enough. Thankfully they dived another 3-4 times which gave me plenty of opportunity to get what I wanted.
Diving and banking:
When in the Big Tower Hide, the Red Kites fly straight towards you and if you are quick enough you can get some very close in-flight shots.
A few extras:
Overall I would highly recommend not only the Red Kite centre but also Pembrokeshire. It is such a beautiful landscape filled with amazing wildlife. I cannot wait to go back next year when I visit Skomer Island.