This week I visited Argaty Red Kites. Argaty Farm is close to one of the first Red Kite re-introduction sites in Scotland and they have really adopted the kites along with wildlife as a whole. They run daily feeds for the birds most afternoons which is a great opportunity to see wild birds close up.
The Bowser Family who run Argaty are big champions for rewilding and living in harmony with nature. You can learn more about their journey and that of the Red Kites by checking out Tom Bowser’s book A Sky Full of Kites.
The reason for my trip was to try out my brand new camera, the Canon R5. This camera is a big step up on my previous camera (A 2014 Canon 7d Mark ii) so I was desperate to get out and put it through its paces. I was especially looking forward to photographing birds in flight which is a difficult aspect of wildlife photography. The R5’s autofocus, including animal and eye tracking and fast burst rate should make it a lot easier to capture a sharp photo and the full frame sensor and 45 megapixels would help with image quality and after event cropping.
We arrived early and my friend and I took our place in the Photography Hide. Whilst we waited for the food to be put out we photographed a family of Tree Sparrows which were taking seed from a nearby feeder. The two chicks kept begging for food whilst the parents kept getting food from the feeder and bringing it back for them.
Anticipating a feed, the Kites started to gather, soaring above the field. I fired off a few shots (well a few hundred – with 12-20 frames per second it doesn’t take long). It was a real joy using the new camera and so easy to focus on the birds compared to what I was used to.
Once our host had put out some food it didn’t take long for the Kites to come closer. This made for better shots as they had trees behind them.
And then they were stooping down, grabbing some food and flying off with it. They didn’t land as such, a fly-by-takeaway. Occasionally other birds, Crows, Magpies and Jackdaws joined in too, always cautious around the larger Kites.
All in all we watched the Kites for about an hour, steadily coming into feed. On a couple of occasions they displayed well, turning to lock talons. This offered spectacular action shots.
Not long after the actioned died down and the birds headed off through the trees.
Overall, it was great to see the Red Kites, our host Lynn was very welcoming and I was delighted with how the new camera performed. If you want to get up close to nature and see these wonderful bird of prey close up, I recommend a trip, but do book in advance, this is a popular day out.