wintering bird surveys - short eared owl

Get up to speed with some of our long-standing projects

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

Up and down the country, our ecologists have been hard at work on projects small and large, short and long-term, some of which span over several years. Read on to find out more about what has been happening on just a few of the longer-term projects we worked on in 2019.

DP World London Gateway Port

The Ecology Consultancy has worked closely with DP World London Gateway Port since 2012 on their development of the UK’s newest deep-water port and one of Europe’s largest logistics parks.

The project has seen the creation of two new managed realignment mudflat sites to compensate for loss of habitat at the port site:

The Ecology Consultancy has delivered habitat enhancement and wildlife mitigation programmes that enabled the creation of Salt Fleet Flats, 65 hectares of new inter-tidal habitat, which has provided valuable feeding ground for populations of wintering birds that are of European importance. These include; black tailed godwit, dunlin and the enigmatic avocet which have all been recorded using the new habitat in large numbers.

The Stanford Wharf area previously consisted of 42 hectares of arable farmland and ditches. Following realignment of the sea wall, the area was flooded in 2010 to create inter-tidal mudflats for the benefit of wading birds. North of the mudflats is an area of habitat which has been enhanced for great crested newts and other wildlife.

The Ecology Consultancy have been carrying out wintering bird surveys at Stanford Wharf since 2012-13 along with sites on Mucking Flats, to the south of the site.

Earlier in 2019, our Sussex ecologists were kept busy carrying out their annual breeding bird surveys on the Logistics Park to monitor Schedule 1 species, such as little ringed plover. They were also on site at various points throughout the year to undertake water vole translocations. They have continued to survey for wintering birds at Stanford Wharf, Mucking Flats and two sites north of the Logistics Park as well as Site X.

Natural England District Licencing

As an integral part of the proposed District Level Licensing for Great Crested Newt, Natural England is gathering an evidence base across England.

This comprises a calculation of habitat suitability using the Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) assessment, with presence or likely absence of great crested newt being determined using eDNA analysis of water samples.

The project involved surveys of 3,700 ponds across the UK in 2019, spread across ten geographical areas with up to 370 ponds in each.

The Ecology Consultancy was commissioned by Natural England early in 2019 to carry out surveys for the Norfolk and Suffolk area.

In some instances the designated pond was dry, so, working proactively and using our local knowledge, we identified alternative ponds nearby. We then contacted the landowners to obtain permission to survey and so ensuring that we surveyed the required number of ponds. The data collected through the Great Crested Newt eDNA pond surveys is now available online as open data, both on the Natural England open data geoportal and on 

High Speed Two Phase 2b

The Ecology Consultancy’s Wakefield office, has delivered over 6000 surveys for HS2 Phase 2b since July 2017. Our ecology team is operating as part of the Mott Macdonald WSP Joint Venture , alongside Temple, carrying out protected species and habitat surveys for the western leg of the route as part of the delivery of the Hybrid Bill for High Speed Two Ltd.

Named technical specialists are each focusing on a specific survey type to ensure high quality, consistent data collection and reporting to inform the formal Environmental Statement and Background Information Documents. We are the technical specialists across the Crewe to Manchester leg for reptiles, birds, water vole, otter and Habitat Regulations Assessment as well as holding the role of overall ecology technical specialist for the consortium.

Land at Blackfriars, Battle

In January 2019 Rother District Council commissioned our Arboriculture team, now part of sister company Arbeco Ltd, to provide arboricultural consultancy for a proposed highway scheme extending through a heavily wooded, 15ha plot of land to the east of Battle Rail Station, East Sussex.

Arboricultural survey at Blackfriars, East SussexSeveral hundred features were to be surveyed, including a significant number of veteran trees and two areas of ancient semi-natural woodland.

Our consultants developed a BS 5937:2012 Arboricultural Survey and Tree Constraints Plan, an Arboricultural Impact Assessment, and construction advice in relation to veteran trees and ancient woodland.

We were able to advise the client on tree constraints for the development and the impact on the existing individual trees and woodlands. The client used the information and recommendations in our reports and plans to make the necessary changes to avoid root protection areas, in turn allowing the successful retention of significant trees on site including several which were classified as ancient or veteran trees.

M4 Junctions 3-12 Smart Motorway Upgrade

Highways England is turning 32 miles of the M4 between London and Reading, into a ‘smart motorway’ by converting the hard shoulder to a fourth lane, and adjusting speed limits to smooth traffic flow.

The presence of several protected species, including great crested newt, reptiles, bats, otter, water vole, badger and nesting birds, was confirmed in the Environmental Impact Assessment, and Balfour Beatty Vinci Joint Venture appointed our experts to carry out surveys and advise on protected species mitigation during the project.

Our work began in 2018 and has included to date: nesting bird checks; reptile surveys and mitigation; great crested newt mitigation; badger surveys, monitoring and sett closures; bat surveys; invasive species surveys; otter, water vole and kingfisher surveys and pre-works checks.

We will be continuing to provide ecology surveys and advice on this project throughout next year.


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