Planning authorities must take into consideration the potential for disturbance to birds in any development and a range of bird surveys can be undertaken depending on the requirements of a project.

The UK is a great place for a wide variety of bird-life though many habitat types. It contains important breeding and wintering sites for many species and also by rare vagrants, which have arrived in the UK by mistake after being blown off course, often from North America.

Birds that have been recorded in a wild state in Britain are included on the British list. Some breed here whereas others may have only been recorded here once. The British list is maintained by the British Ornithologists Union (BOU) and currently stands at 574 species.

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Types of Bird Survey

 

Habitat Assessment

Initial walkover assessment can be undertaken for any site to identify habitat potentially suitable to support breeding birds. This would determine the potential for birds to be impacted by the proposed works.

Where suitable nesting habitat for breeding birds is identified during an walkover such as mature trees and scrub, mitigation can be developed to remove these outside of the bird breeding season to ensure there are no delays.

 

Nesting Bird Survey

Where possible vegetation removal should be timed to be undertaken outside the bird nesting season (March to September, inclusive). However when this is not possible, nesting bird surveys can be undertaken to identify nests.

A nesting bird survey can be undertaken in advance of any works commencing at a site. Following an assessment by a suitably qualified ecologist an assessment is made and where no nests are found trees and vegetation can be removed.

 

Breeding Bird Surveys

Breeding bird surveys area undertaken to map bird territories. These maps can be used to estimate the abundance and distribution of birds on any site during the breeding season (March to June inclusively). Between five to ten field visits are recommended depending on the site and its complexity. Data collected will include the location of singing / non-singing birds, territorial disputes, birds carrying food and / or nesting material and the discovery of active nest sites.

Mapping will show details the species and territories recorded and evaluate the importance of a site for breeding birds.

 

Wintering Bird Surveys

Wintering bird surveys are conducted to determine the species composition and the numbers present at potentially important wintering sites. This allows an assessment of the importance of the site for wintering birds to be made.

The UK is very important to passage migrants and winter visiting birds due to its relatively mild conditions compared to the rest of Europe on the same latitude. Therefore it is important to identify important wintering sites for birds and manage them appropriately.

Methodology for wintering birds follows the standard methodology based on the vantage point surveys whereby the observer surveys the whole of a predefined area and counts of all wintering bird species are made.

 

Vantage point surveys

Fixed vantage point surveys enable observations to be made for bird activity such as on the flight behaviour, flight direction, height and duration for bird species. These surveys are often used for projects where bird populations are threatened for example from collision risks in wind farms.

Surveys are always designed to be site specific however the general methodology requires that surveys are undertaken over one year for a minimum of 36 hours per season (breeding, spring & autumn migration and winter).

Data from vantage point observations can be used in a collision risk model and threats to resident and migratory bird populations such as, collision mortality, disturbance leading to displacement or exclusion (including barrier effects), loss or damage to habitat resulting from wind turbines and associated infrastructure.

 

Barn Owl Survey Methodology

The barn owl is listed on many county Biodiversity Action Plans (BAP) due to the decline in numbers in recent years. The barn owl is a Schedule 1 species and a survey licence is required.

Barn owls nest in trees and old buildings and surveys include the search for barn owls or signs of their previous presence such as feeding remains, pellets, faecal deposits, and feathers.


 

Ellendale Environmental ecologists are experienced in designing mitigation and supervising construction sites to ensure works can continue and birds are protected.

Mitigation Measures

Mitigation can include in situ works such as the retention of features such as trees and scrub or enhancement of a site either during or post construction through the installation of bird boxes, including specific designs for individual species.


 
 

Why Choose Ellendale Environmental?

Ellendale Environmental ecologists are fully licensed to survey for breeding birds throughout the UK. Our years of experience in undertaking breeding birds surveys allows us to deliver survey reports and mitigation strategies that ensure our clients are able to progress with their planning applications and developments.

As with all protected species, survey licenses are only granted to experienced and appropriately trained individuals.  Ellendale Environmental ecologists are licensed to undertake surveys for nesting birds including Schedule 1 species and have the experience and expertise to undertake surveys on all scale of projects.

We are able to design and implement mitigation appropriate to your project following the relevant good practice guidelines.

Your development will be in safe hands with our experts at Ellendale Environmental who will work alongside you to ensure that your development is compliant with the law which will minimise disruption to your project. We are able to ensure this through extensive searches of the surrounding area being conducted for the presence of breeding birds. If breeding birds are present we work collectively to ensure the development process is not hindered whilst protecting these birds through implementing appropriate mitigation.

 

 

Legislation

We have the experience and skills to carry out a wide range of bird surveys, including breeding, wintering, vantage point and migration surveys, as well as other more specialised assessments. We also undertake habitat assessments to provide information on the suitability of habitats for birds.

Protection of birds

The wide variety of birds found in the UK and the range of habitat and nesting sites means that almost all development has the potential to impact on birds.

In the UK, all wild birds, their nests and their eggs are protected by law. In England, Scotland and Wales the legislation that protects wild birds is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and in Northern Ireland, The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.   

In England and Wales the law has been amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and in Scotland by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004.   

It is an offence to:

  • kill or injure any wild bird;

  • capture or keep [alive or dead] any wild bird;

  • destroy or take the egg of any wild bird;

  • sell or advertise for sale any wild bird or its eggs;

  • destroy, damage, interfere with, take or obstruct the use of the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

The amount of protection afforded to wild birds varies depending on whether the species are listed on various Schedules or Licences.    

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) provides enhanced statutory protection to rare breeding birds listed under Schedule 1.

It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.

In addition with specific reference to white-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, which is included on Schedule 1A and A1 of the WCA (as amended) it is an offence to:

  • Harass a white-tailed eagle at any time; and

  • damage a nest of a white-tailed eagle nests at any time.

In addition birds are protected by CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is designed to prevent excessive and unrestricted international trade in wildlife threatening the survival of species in the wild.


Bird-life in the UK

The UK is a great place for a wide variety of birdlife though many habitat types. It contains important breeding and wintering sites for many species and also by rare vagrants, which have arrived in the UK by mistake after being blown off course, often from North America.

Birds that have been recorded in a wild state in Britain are included on the British list. Some breed here whereas others may have only been recorded here once. The British list is maintained by the British Ornithologists Union (BOU) and currently stands at 574 species.

Planning authorities must take into consideration the potential for disturbance to birds in any development and a range of bird survey can be undertaken depending on the requirements of a project.