Cardiff Swift Surveyor

RSPB Cymru


Volunteer • Part Time 02920 353318 Carolyn Robertson

Sectors: conservation & wildlife, ecology

Closing date: Not specified, apply soon!

Why we want you

Do you live in Cardiff? Do you want to help swift populations thrive in the city? If so, we’d really love to hear from you.

Migrating all the way from Africa to the UK each year to nest and raise their young, seeing and hearing swifts in our city skies is a sign to many that summer has arrived. Sadly, swift populations have been declining steadily over the past 20 years. Now they really need your help.

Swifts nest in the cavities of buildings and will return to the same nest site each year. As we replace and redevelop buildings in Cardiff many traditional nest sites are lost forever, leaving swifts without a nest site to raise their young.

We need a team of volunteers to spot and record swifts in Cardiff in order to identify swift nest sites. We can then work towards protecting these sites and establishing new ones.

What’s in it for you?

If you love nature and want to help, this is an opportunity to do something that really counts. With your help we can dramatically improve our knowledge of swifts in Cardiff. With a greater awareness of swift numbers and nesting sites we can protect existing swift colonies and increase the number of opportunities swifts have to nest and raise their young in our city; thereby helping to address the steady decline of this iconic but now vulnerable species.

Working alongside the RSPB, Glamorgan Bird Club and other like-minded volunteers, this is a perfect opportunity to improve bird identification and field study skills, undertake survey work using a standardised methodology and input your survey results to the RSPB’s online Swift Survey. This in turn feeds in to local and national records enabling us to build a much clearer picture of swift populations, both in Cardiff and across the UK.

The skills you need

You don't need to be a bird expert or even have lots of free time. Swifts are noisy and highly visible birds with a concentrated presence around their nest sites in the early morning and at dusk.

You’ll need to be able to carry out 6 surveys between May and the end of July, walking the streets within a designated 500m x 500m survey square. The survey squares will be focused around Cardiff Bay* but other survey squares within Cardiff are available. Swifts are not active in poor weather so surveys need only be undertaken when it’s dry.

Surveys should be carried out in the evening, usually between 7:30pm and 9:30pm, timed to finish before dusk. There’s no set length of time for the survey but survey squares need to be thoroughly covered, so patience and an eye for detail will help, as will lots of enthusiasm and commitment; there may be times when you don’t see a single swift.

Your survey time will be spent visiting known nest sites to establish their condition, identifying new nest sites that we’re not currently aware of and watching out for screaming groups of swifts flying at roof height, as this means they're breeding nearby. In carrying out this work it’s highly likely you’ll come into contact with members of the public. You’ll need to be confident engaging with the public if and when the moment arises to help them understand what you’re doing and why.

If you’d like to survey with someone, perhaps a friend, family member or colleague would like to take part too. We’re very happy for volunteers to survey in pairs.

You’ll need to record the results from your surveys on our standardised recording forms and input these results to our online Swift Survey here. If you’re unable to get online from home all volunteers will be able to use the RSPB office on Cowbridge Road East to input their survey results if needed.

All training, equipment and survey materials will be provided by the RSPB and Glamorgan Bird Club to ensure you feel both confident and capable to fulfil this extremely important role. Ongoing support will also be available during the survey period should you have any questions or need help along the way.

Your time

Minimum commitment: Minimum of 2 surveys per month, each approximately 1-2 hours
Duration: 3 months
Period: May - end July 2018


Cardiff Bay is currently a priority area to survey due to the swift tower recently installed on Cardiff Bay Barrage. The tower has been installed as part of a partnership project delivered by RSPB Cymru, Glamorgan Bird Club and Cardiff Council’s Harbour Authority, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The tower will provide 90 new nest sites for swifts.

Please mention when responding to this ad.