Birds are incredibly common in the UK and have adapted to a diverse range of habitats, from woodland and moorland, to gardens and even cities. With over 500 species recorded in the wild in Britain, it is incredibly important to consider birds within any development project.
View our Ecology Survey Calendar to plan your Bird surveys
Bird Activity Surveys
Bird Activity Surveys are generally required when a development is proposed for a large area of optimal bird habitat or close to a designated nature conservation site, such as a Special Protection Area. This type of survey requires an experienced ecologist to walk a pre-determined transect route around the site, recording visual or audio encounters with birds. A site is visited on a minimum of four occasions with each visit commencing at dawn between the months of March and August. The results of this survey can inform an appropriate mitigation plan to prevent the development having detrimental effects on the bird populations that utilise this site.
Nesting Bird Surveys
Often, a development will require the removal of trees or other types of vegetation. Should vegetation works be deemed necessary within the breeding bird season (March – August), a nesting bird survey will be required to ensure that no birds are currently nesting at that time. This is generally carried out within a week prior to the removal of any trees and involves an ecologist visiting the site and looking for signs of nesting behaviour, such as direct observation of nest building, singing males and recently fledged young. Vegetation cannot be removed until an ecologist has confirmed that no birds are presently nesting here.
Barn Owl Surveys:
Like all birds, barn owls and their nests are protected by UK law (Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Unlike most birds, barn owls will nest all year round and therefore their nests, eggs and young are fully protected at all times throughout the UK.
Therefore, a survey is required determining the presence/absence of nesting barn owls and maybe requested if they consider it likely that a development will affect barn owls.
JCA’s experienced ecologists can carry out barn owl surveys, which will assess buildings and trees for nesting barn owls and other field signs.
Barn owl surveys can be carried at any time of year.
If barn owls are found to be nesting within the development site JCA will provide detailed guidance on how you can proceed and be commissioned to design a suitable Mitigation Plan which will limit negative effects of the development and retain the positive conservation status of barn owls in the area.
Birds and the Law:
The amount of protection afforded to birds varies depending on their listings on different schedules.Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981it is an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird, or damage or destroy the nest or eggs of any breeding bird. Particularly vulnerable bird species are listed on Schedule 1 of the Act, and are also afforded protection against intentional or reckless disturbance.
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CA is my first choice when requiring or asked to recommend reliable experts on trees in the context of property and development. They have an excellent understanding of the technical aspects of trees and legal matters involving them, contributing well to interdisciplinary decision-making.
Bird Survey Timeline: