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All wild bird species, their nests and eggs are protected by law which makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird or to take, damage or destroy the nest (whilst being built or in use) or its eggs. This means that even common and widespread species can impose significant seasonal constraints on site clearance.

In addition, some species known as 'schedule 1 birds', like barn owls, have extra legal protection meaning that disturbing them while nesting, building a nest or disturbing their dependent young in or out of the nest is also an offence.

Activities that are particularly likely to disturb breeding birds include:

  • creating noise, lighting or vibration;
  • renovating, converting or demolishing a building;
  • cutting down or removing branches from an old tree; and
  • managing and cutting down woods and hedgerows.

Experienced ornithologists

ECOSA carries out a wide range of ornithological surveys using Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), Common Bird Census (CBC), Vantage Point (VP) count methods and other established survey techniques. The most frequent surveys involve breeding bird surveys which need to be carried out between March and June and wintering bird surveys undertaken between October and March.

We have also carried out more species-specific surveys when the habitat present, or the geographic location of a site may indicate the presence of a particularly rare bird. We have undertaken surveys for nightjar, Dartford warbler, lapwing and nocturnal species. We have also carried out an assessment of the distribution of breeding waders on marshes on the Isle of Sheppey, and have carried out numerous intertidal bird surveys for waders and wildfowl in association with coastal developments.

Our project experience is wide-ranging, including port developments, wind farms, roads, housing developments, hospitals and schools.

Bird survey data

Terrestrial bird surveys for the majority of development sites fall into two general categories: breeding bird survey and wintering bird survey.

A breeding bird survey will provide you with a list of species that breed, or are likely to breed, within a site. ECOSA use a territory-mapping method which provides a site map showing the number and location of breeding bird territories. This type of survey is extremely useful in assessing the likely impact of changes to a site, for example by stating that the removal of a hedgerow will impact upon 'x' number of bird territories. The use of mapping also allows comparison between years and is most useful when comparing 'before and after' scenarios.

Winter bird surveys provide an assessment of wintering bird populations. Many bird species form large flocks during the winter months, particularly on farmland, large waterbodies and around our coastlines.

In some habitats, for example lowland heathland, there are species of particular ecological concern for which specialist survey methods are employed.

Breeding bird survey timing

Three to five visits between March and June.

Wintering bird survey timing

Regular surveys throughout one winter period (October to March). See our survey timetable for details.

If SPA or Ramsar species are being affected by development proposals, additional surveys may be required.

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