All wild birds, including both eggs and nests, are protected by UK law; which makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird; or take, damage or destroy the nest or eggs of any wild bird. Some species (listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; such as barn owl, fieldfare and kingfisher) are afforded greater protection that makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.
When do I need a bird survey?
An assessment to determine if birds and their nests are present on site is conducted during the walkover survey as part of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA). This forms part of a protected species risk assessment and surveys the site and its boundaries for suitable nesting habitat; which includes trees, hedgerows, scrub, buildings and suitable ground nesting locations. Generally this walkover risk assessment is sufficient for most species, however, further survey effort conducted by experienced surveyors may be required for Schedule 1 species (such as barn owl), for large sites covering a range of habitats, developments located in areas known to support important populations of birds (such as protected sites) or for developments that potentially hold a risk to birds (such as wind turbines/ wind farms). For more information on when you may need a bird survey, please click here to read Natural England’s guidance. If you wish to discuss further, please get in contact with the team.
What does a bird survey involve?
In instances when surveys are required to understand the bird species presence and populations on site, these are conducted by experienced and qualified persons and usually involves several repeat visits to the site spread out over a period of time to allow for a range of data to be collected. Our ecologists will be able to discuss the requirements for specific bird surveys with you and discuss the required methodology. You require a specific class licence issued from Natural England to enter a building with a known barn owl roost in order to survey them. Naturally Wild has a licenced ecologist that can assist with this type of work.
Nesting bird habitat on site – the next steps
If there is suitable habitat on site for nesting birds, usually actions can be taken to avoid impacting nests during their nesting period, which is from 1st March to 31st August. Actions that may impact nesting birds include removal of vegetation, felling of trees, soil strips and the renovation, conversion or demolition of buildings. Where Schedule 1 birds are present on site, you can’t get protected species licences in relation to development, but may be able to rely upon an exemption listed in the legislation, for example preserving public health & safety and prevention of damage to crops or animal feed. Often guidance from one of our ecologists will ensure that activities as part of the development are conducted at the correct time of year and appropriate mitigation and compensation measures are implemented.
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