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‘Swift’ support call in the Welshpool area

 
Created on 23/05/2022 @ 06:23

 

MyWelshpool has teamed up with the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust to try and ensure that the area plays its part in creating a warm welcome to a group of weary travellers that have flown thousands of miles to visit us.

The number of swifts swooping by to stay in the area has declined drastically by up to 50% over the past 25 years, and are now on the conservation concern list. And we are largely to blame.

But our area can lead the fightback so we hand over to the experts to tell us what the situation us and what we can do:

You may be wondering what that high pitch “screaming” noise is above you as you walk along the streets… well, the Swifts have returned!

They arrived back in the UK late April to early May to breed, then will return to the south of the African Sahara at the end of July or early August. Some say they are only here for around 100 days.

Many people think swifts are related to swallows and house martins (Hirundines), but they are in fact related to hummingbirds!

Did you know these amazing birds only land to nest? They eat, sleep and mate in the sky! A swift can travel up to 4 million miles in its lifetime (that’s the equivalent of flying to the moon and back eight times).

Unfortunately, swifts have declined by more than 50% over the last 25 years. In 2021, they were sadly added to the UK Birds of Conservation Concern Red List, alongside other species such as the house martin and greenfinch.

Swifts, swallows, house martins and sand martins all face similar threats. A loss of nesting sites due to renovation, demolition or roof repairs. Their food source, insects and other invertebrates, is dramatically declining due to climate change and intensive farming. More extreme weather, such as storms and droughts, can have significant impacts, especially whilst they are on their migration routes.

The magnificent swifts, as well as the Hirundines, need our help. There are several ways you can help to conserve and protect these birds.

Firstly, you can buy a nest box or nest cup, there are plenty of different types available online from organisations such as the RSPB, Swift Conservation and House Martin Conservation. You can even make your own swift box, there are a variety of designs available online, with the most common design being the Zeist model. 

Making your garden more wildlife friendly is a simple and easy way to help all wildlife. Leaving patches of long grass encourages more invertebrates. You could plant insect friendly plants, or even great a bog garden. Bare patches of mud are great for swallows and house martins as they can use this to build their nests.

Another way to help these birds is to monitor them and record locations of nest sites and feeding hotspots. On Thursday, May 26,at 7:30pm, we are running a Swift Walk in Welshpool, starting at the Tourist Information Centre then making our way around town looking out for swifts.

The aim of the walk is to help people ID swifts, understand the importance of monitoring them and how they can get involved with monitoring and recording.

We will be running several swift walks across Montgomeryshire throughout the summer, so keep your eyes peeled on our website/social media pages. At Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, we are currently running a swift project alongside the other Trusts in Powys. The aim of the project is to raise awareness about swifts and to help towns/villages to become more swift-friendly. Llanfyllin Men’s Shed have made us some boxes which we have been giving to people across the area to put up on their houses/buildings.

Swifts are just such fascinating birds, and they need all the help they can get. So please, spread the word to your family and friends about these birds, how amazing they are and what they can to do help. There is a useful document called “Wild about High Fliers” with lots of information about how you can help these birds https://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/. If you want to find out more about our swift project, get in touch with Lottie at lottie@montwt.co.uk

Our work with swifts is part of a Powys-wide project called Green Connections Powys. This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.”

PICTURE: Courtesy of Stefan Johansson...

 

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