The sound of bird song typically signifies the start of spring and March is often a time where you can readily observe birds gathering and carrying nest material, and displaying territorial behaviour.
When it comes to development, it is relatively rare that a project doesn’t have to consider the presence of birds on site as they are highly adaptable to their environment, utilising even the most urban of plots for breeding and refuge purposes.
Protection for breeding birds
All wild birds are protected through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This makes it an offence to:
● intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird;
● take, damage or destroy a nest (whilst in use or under construction);
● take, damage or destroy its eggs; or
● possess wild birds (dead or alive) or their eggs.
Some species are afforded additional protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act .
Breeding bird surveys are typically undertaken as part of the baseline data-gathering and assessment process to understand the breeding bird assemblage of a site, identify features of importance within a site for birds and the individual species that visit a site. It is important to consider the potential presence of breeding birds both on site and within the zone of influence of a proposed development project.
What does a breeding bird survey involve?
Breeding bird surveys involve experienced ecological surveyors visiting the site at an appropriate time of year and under suitable weather conditions. A minimum of six survey visits is typically required, covering the period before sunrise to mid-morning. At least one survey will also consider nocturnal species.
The information gathered from the survey, desk study and any previous reports feeds into an assessment report, which determines the impacts and effects of proposed works on breeding birds and determines the need for mitigation and compensation to ensure legal and best practice compliance.
Breeding bird checks
Where it is identified that features on site could support breeding birds, it is common for mitigation to be required in the form of breeding bird checks, if works need to be carried out during the breeding bird season – typically between March and the end of August.
Immediately prior to work commencing, an experienced ecologist will visit the site to ascertain whether any nesting birds are present. Where birds are found to be actively nesting, work will be restricted to make sure that the nest is not disturbed until the young have fledged.
When can a breeding bird survey be undertaken?
Breeding bird surveys should be carried out between mid-March and the end of August; around these months, surveys can also be carried out to record migrant bird species.
Our ecologists are experienced in undertaking breeding bird surveys and can guide you through any required mitigation and compensation requirements. If you have a development project that you would like to discuss, please do get in touch as we’re always happy to help.