Birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). All wild birds, their nests and their eggs are protected by law unless an exception is specified in the legislation. Species listed on Schedule 1 of the Act are offered further protection against disturbance of dependent young and disturbance of adults while nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young.
Ornithology is another area of expertise within Echoes Ecology, and we offer the following services:
Vantage Point (VP) surveys – these are a vital requirement for potential windfarm developments, as well as other types of projects (e.g. power lines). They provide the basis for the assessment of collision risk for key species. VP surveys are usually carried out throughout the year and there is a minimum number of hours which need to be recorded in order to meet guideline requirements. With the information gathered from VP surveys we can provide an assessment of the risk to the bird species found on the site.
Breeding bird surveys – Echoes carry out various breeding bird surveys using a variety of recognised, standard methods. Birds breeding or holding territory on sites are located and mapped during a series of visits between March and July. Open upland habitats are generally surveyed using a method known as ‘Brown and Shepherd’, while woodland and lowland farmland sites are surveyed through adaptation of the long-running Common Bird Census.
Species-specific surveys – We can also offer surveys for particular species of conservation or legislative importance, e.g. birds of prey, Barn Owl, Black Grouse, Kingfisher, Crossbill. In addition, our ornithologists have Schedule 1 licences to allow them to survey for the species that are catered for within that part of the legislation.
Nocturnal surveys – In situations where owls or other nocturnal species (e.g. nightjar) may be affected by a development, we can conduct species-specific surveys using recognised methods.
Nesting bird checks – During the breeding season (usually March to September) we can carry out nesting bird checks within your site, enabling the protection of nesting birds as required by law. Direct nest searches are carried out by surveying areas where birds may be nesting. Where direct nest searches are not appropriate, birds are watched for indicative breeding behaviour (such as carrying nesting materials, alarm calling or carrying food for chicks), and the nest located by following the birds back to their nest site. Some species may also nest during the autumn and winter months (e.g. crossbill spp), and checks can be carried out during those seasons where appropriate.
Winter surveys – During the winter (October to March) our surveyors can conduct appropriate surveys to locate wintering populations of birds (e.g. goose species). Methods used include monthly Winter Wildfowl Counts at water bodies and marshy areas, and walked transects across the site to obtain an overall picture of the over-wintering bird populations.
The information gathered from these surveys allows particularly sensitive areas within your site to be highlighted with the aim of making sure appropriate mitigation can be implemented within your proposed works. Echoes Ecology have an excellent reputation for carrying out these surveys and developing appropriate mitigation strategies for your development proposals.