Mid Wales:
Red Kite
Country
Nant yr Arian
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Nant yr Arian
flock of kitesThe Nant yr Arian Forestry Commission site is close to Ponterwyd in Ceredigion, Mid Wales. It is at the heart of the Welsh Red Kite Country and at 3pm every day (2pm in winter) the red kites are fed by the side of the lake in the woodland.

Hundreds of birds flock to the area to feed on the scraps of meat that are thrown out for them. It is possible to watch them close up from inside a hide but observing from the opposite shore is possibly more dramatic because then it is possible to see the huge numbers of birds circling overhead. As well as the red kite there is a host of other wildlife to spot on the hillside site and a set of way marked walks to follow.
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in the treesThe Red Kite
(Milvus milvus)

Red kites are easily distinguished for their colour. Although not truly red, they are a rich chestnut colour. They also have distinctive white patches under the wings and a clearly forked tail and their bright yellow legs can be clearly seen in flight. Perhaps their most distinctive feature, however, is the high pitched cry that sounds almost like a shepherd signalling to a sheep dog. The birds are mainly scavengers but will hunt if they are rearing young. They take small prey from rabbits, voles and field mice to earthworms.

sculptureIn London in the 1460s they were protected by law because they were considered excellent street cleaners but they have not always enjoyed such legal status. By the 16th century they were included in the Vermin Act and could be legally killed and by the 18th century they were almost extinct. At one time the entire Welsh population of red kites was reduced to a single bloodline but there are now more than 500 breeding pairs.
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Devil’s Bridge
The Myth
devil's bridgeOnce upon a time in the days of long ago old Megan of Llandunach was standing by the side of the river Mynach feeling sorry for herself.  The river was in flood and her cow was on the opposite bank.  Quite how the stupid animal had crossed the gorge by the 300 feet high waterfall she didn’t know. Her surroundings were beautiful and had she not been so worried about the cow she would have marvelled at the way the water fell into the deep cauldron at the bottom of the falls.

All at once a voice behind her said: ”What’s the matter, Megan?” She turned and saw a man wearing the garb of a monk. “My cow, my only source of income, has become stranded on the far side and I don’t know how to get her back.”  The monk offered to get the cow back by building a bridge across the chasm and Megan agreed readily but did not know how she would pay.

“Don‘t worry about that,” said the monk, “Just let me have the first living thing that crosses it.”  Megan agreed and the monk told her to wait at her cottage until he finished the work. 

When she later heard the monk shout she went back to the river, carrying a loaf of bread under her shawl for she had noticed that the monk had cloven hooves until his robes and realised she was dealing with the Devil himself. 

“There’s the bridge,” said the figure in the monk‘s robes. “It is indeed a fine bridge, but will it hold the weight of this loaf?” she asked, throwing the bread onto the bridge deck.  Immediately her little dog ran across the bridge to get the bread. “The dog is the first living thing to cross your bridge - you may take him.”

“But a dog is no use to me,” the figure said, angrily, and disappeared in a whiff of sulphur. 

Other tales claim Old Nick tried to outwit the monks of nearby Strata Florida Abbey in the 11th century, which is the date of the lowest of the three bridges. The middle bridge dates from 1708 when residents decided the original bridge was no longer safe.  The top bridge was constructed in 1901.
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