Birds Protecting Breeding Avocet

Protecting Breeding Birds – Surveys & Mitigation

Bird surveys and mitigation, including those for wind farms, are an important part of our work.

Around 400 species of bird have been recorded in the UK. These consist of resident birds, which both breed and overwinter in the UK; migrants – both summer and winter visitors; and those species that occur on passage. Birds occur in both rural and urban areas.

Our experienced ornithologists can advise on, and conduct, all aspects of bird surveys, impact assessment, and mitigation. Our expert team at The Ecology Consultancy regularly reports on, and surveys, wild birds and their breeding and wintering habitats.

Protecting Wild Birds

All wild birds, their nests and young are protected throughout England and Wales by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is illegal to kill, injure or take any wild bird, or damage or destroy the nest or eggs of breeding birds. The legislation applies to all bird species, common and rare. In addition to the protection afforded to all wild birds, rarer or particularly vulnerable species listed on Schedule 1 of the 1981 Act, such as the barn owl, receive enhanced protection when breeding. Schedule 1 species, including their dependent young, are protected from intentional or reckless disturbance whilst at or near the nest, in addition to the protection afforded the more common species.

If nests, whether completed or in the process of being built, are found on site, any works with the potential to damage or destroy the nest, eggs or young birds, must stop until the birds have completed breeding. This includes any activity that could potentially cause an adult bird to desert the nest resulting in death or egg failure. Nesting sites should be inspected only by experienced ecologists.

Any disturbance of a breeding Schedule 1 bird is an offence, regardless of whether this impacts upon the breeding attempt. These nests can only be visited by an ecologist with a licence for the specific species concerned.

Birds may nest on machinery or scaffolding and other temporary site structures. If this happens the equipment cannot be used until the birds have finished nesting and such areas may need to be sealed off to prevent disturbance.

Breaking the law can lead to fines of up to £5000 per offence and potential prison sentences of up to six months. Vehicles implicated in an offence can be compounded and both the company, and/or the individual(s) concerned, can be held liable.

Expert Bird Survey Consultants

Our consultants offer specialist bird surveys, including breeding and wintering bird surveys, surveys for breeding birds of prey, and vantage point surveys.

We also advise on and implement mitigation measures such as installing boxes (e.g. swift boxes) for nesting birds, and provide training and research services.

Projects we have worked on include:

Bird Surveys and Mitigation

Different species show different preferences as to where they nest. Some species are predominantly scrub or ground-nesting, others favour trees. Several species such as swifts and swallows have adapted to nesting in or on buildings, and other man-made structures.

Birds in the UK typically build their nests and lay their eggs between March and the end of August. The peak months for breeding are May and June. However, there are exceptions to this, such as the collared dove, which nest all year round, and species such as the barn owl that may also breed over a longer period. Therefore, it is possible that birds may be found breeding on a construction site at unexpected times of the year.

Breeding bird surveys are best conducted in suitable habitat with a methodology based on the BTO Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). A site is visited on a minimum of four occasions, each visit commencing at dawn, to record the numbers and species present.

Survey time: March to August

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