There are hundreds of bird species present in the UK, some overwinter here, others are summer migrants, while the more common species are residents. The ecology of birds varies considerably and a specific approach may be required that targets specific bird nesting sites, or specific bird species (i.e. barn owls).
An initial bird survey will be carried out to assess how suitable the site is for breeding and wintering birds, during this time bird sightings will be recorded to get an overall sense of the site. A special emphasis is placed on the areas suitability for Schedule 1 and UKBAP species. A report which is suitable for planning permission will be published; this will identify potential impacts on protected species that may occur, suggest mitigation measures and any further work required.
All bird surveys are based on RSPBs Bird Monitoring Methods. After the initial survey further bird survey work may be required this may include:
WINTERING BIRD SURVEYS
To determine population size and trends in distribution, as well as identifying important sites, a Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) is usually necessary where discrete waterbodies are surveyed such as water bodies, marshes and coastal estuaries. At least four visits but ideally 1 per month from September to March (the key months are December, January and February) to record any notable assemblages of bird species.
BREEDING BIRD SURVEYS
Depending on the size of the site, scope of the work, and timing, either a Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) or Common Bird Census (CBC) will be undertaken to survey or monitor breeding bird activity. Both techniques will require multiple visits but the CBC is more labour intensive. Surveys will record and map all bird species seen or heard and their behaviour, such as gathering material for nesting, feeding young, fighting and territorial calls. Up to 10 CBC site visits are undertaken ideally between March and July with 10 days between visits, whereas BBS site visits require 3 surveys in March to April, April to mid-May and mid-May to late June.
NESTING BIRD SURVEYS
Bird nests can be searched for by hand immediately prior to development. This is a last resort and is only practical for small areas of scrub, individual trees and bushes. The number of visits will depend on the size and the importance of key bird species present from the initial survey.
SPECIALIST BIRD SURVEYS
Involves specialist bird survey techniques for individual protected bird species, such as barn owls, to gather more detailed population estimates and important bird habitats such as estuaries, SPA and RAMSAR sites.
If you require a species specific bird survey, please contact us.
MITIGATION & LICENSING
If a nest is discovered during work all operations must stop until breeding has finished and work can only continue in a buffered zone large enough to prevent disturbance of nesting birds which may cause breeding failure.
Any work which is likely to cause disturbance to nesting birds such as scrub and hedgerow removal, lake and ditch clearance, building alterations and maintenance work must be take place outside the breeding season (1st March to 31st August).
Schedule 1 species require much greater care for and work may only be allowed when reckless disturbance will not affect the nesting species. If these species are disturbed then serious action can be taken against the development company and may lead to prosecution
LAW & LEGISLATION
All wild birds and their nests and eggs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Certain birds, generally the UK's least common or most threatened breeding species, are listed under Schedule 1 of the Act. These are Specially Protected species, and offences against them are subject to special penalties.