A group dedicated to taking action for one of our best-loved birds, the swift, is launching at an event in mid Wales later this month.

The conservation group, Gwenoliaid Duon Llanidloes Swifts, is made up of passionate local individuals who have come together to try to improve the fortunes of the Common Swift, one of our favourite summer visitors that is sadly experiencing a dramatic population decline across the UK.

A community launch event held on Wednesday, 24 January 6pm-7.30pm at The Hanging Gardens in Llanidloes will be the perfect opportunity for people to find out more about swifts, what the group is doing and how they can get involved themselves. Donations will be welcomed to help support the future of these amazing birds.

Local naturalist, Iolo Williams, has backed the intentions of Llanidloes Swifts, saying: “Thanks to the group for all the hard work they are doing for swifts”.

The Common Swift, Apus apus, is a magnificent bird that visits the UK for only three months of the year. They sleep, eat, drink and mate on the wing, only ever landing to breed.

Swifts arrive on our shores in early May to breed and raise their young, migrating back to Africa late July/early August, following the warmer weather, and their insect food source. In its lifetime, a swift may fly up to four million miles, the equivalent of travelling to the moon and back eight times!

Unfortunately, Common Swifts are declining rapidly, with an estimated 72% decline in Wales since 1994.

There are three main reasons for their decline. Firstly, is the loss of their food source. When feeding young, adult swifts can catch up to 100,000 insects a day. Yet studies suggest that insect populations have declined by 50% since 1970.

Secondly, their nest sites are declining each year. Swifts nest in the eaves of houses, entering through small holes. They don’t make a nest like a House Martin or a Barn Swallow. As people are renovating their houses to be more energy efficient, they are blocking up nest sites, often without even knowing it!

A final reason for their decline is thought to be due to an increase in extreme weather events such as storms or droughts.

Gwenoliaid Duon Llanidloes Swifts is a group that has set up to help these wonderful birds, working with local partners such as Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, The Wilderness Trust, Zero Carbon Llanidloes Di-Garbon and Powys Nature Partnership. The group aims to raise awareness about swifts in the local area, survey and record current nesting sites, and to provide new nesting opportunities.