Bat Survey

Shropshire Bat Surveys

2017 was busy year for our Shropshire bat ecologists!

Our team completed in excess of 50 bat surveys to inform planning applications, with surveys of many structures undertaken including a number of primary schools, hotels, factories, a public house, farm complexes, barns and house redevelopments. BiOME also completed static monitoring and transect surveys at a number of wind farm sites in Wales.

Our specialist team of tree climbing bat surveyors in Shropshire assisted developers with the surveys of trees to be impacted by developments in rural and urban locations as well as monitoring bat boxes erected as part of mitigation schemes.

During these surveys numerous bats were encountered and roosts identified, which resulted in the production and submission of over 20 European Protected Species bat mitigation licence applications.

We also continued to monitor a colony of Lesser Horseshoe Bats, first identified by our surveyors in 2016, which considerably expanded the known range of this species in Shropshire.

We look forward to another successful year in 2018 supporting clients in Shropshire, and beyond. If you require ecological support in Shropshire please contact Martyn Owen.

Common Pipistrelle droppings within a roof void

Wind Farm Post-Construction Monitoring

BiOME continues to expand both its client base and project portfolio in the post-construction monitoring sector, delivering projects at a number of new sites in Scotland and Wales during 2017, whilst continuing to deliver high quality services in relation to ongoing projects.

A variety of ecological impacts are possible following wind farm construction, including (but not limited to); direct loss/deterioration of habitats, indirect habitat loss (due to disturbance/displacement), mortality (from collisions) and barrier effects. Post-construction monitoring is often required to verify the magnitude and extent of the impacts predicted during the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, and to monitor implemented mitigation to ensure that it is having the desired effect.

Completed survey and assessment work during 2017 included:

  • The monitoring of Golden Plover numbers following the implementation of habitat management measures to dissuade this species from the wind farm area during the autumn at a wind farm in Scotland. Surveys included walkover surveys, Vantage Point (VP) surveys (followed by Collision Risk Modelling (CRM)) and carcass searches (to validate the results of the CRM), along with the monitoring of habitats to ensure that the prescribed management occurred.
  • Monitoring of a Schedule 1 bird species at a wind farm in Wales using VP surveys and walkovers to enable the assessment of impacts in relation to potential collision risk and displacement of nesting birds.
  • The monitoring of breeding and wintering birds at a wind farm in Scotland, including Common Bird Census (CBC) walkover surveys (and territory mapping), VP surveys and the monitoring of Peregrines that nest in the vicinity of the wind farm. Followed by CRM, and an updated assessment of impacts.
  • Habitat (National Vegetation Classification), bat activity and breeding bird surveys (VP and Brown & Shepherd walkovers) at a wind farm in Wales.

Ecological Clerk of Works and Great Crested Newt mitigation work was also completed by our team of licenced surveyors.

Whilst a number of these projects commenced in 2017, others have been ongoing for at least three years. The completion and sharing of post-construction monitoring is vital to further our understanding of ecological impacts from wind developments enabling more robust assessment during the EIA process. BiOME is committed to contributing to this knowledge base wherever possible, sharing data with, for example, the Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group and preparing scientific papers.

European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria - Our work at a Scottish site in 2017 included a comprehenisve suite of surveys in relation to this species

Curlew  Numenius arquata  - A key consideration for many wind farms in mid-Wales

Curlew Numenius arquata - A key consideration for many wind farms in mid-Wales

Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys in Shropshire

Over the past 12 months BiOME has completed more than ten Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys (EP1HS) in Shropshire, assisting clients across a variety of sectors.

We were delighted to complete an EP1HS and protected species survey to assist Alveley Cricket Club in their planning application for a new ground and clubhouse. Having outgrown their existing facilities, the club identified a plot of pastoral farmland on the edge of the village and were investigating the feasibility of development. BiOME initially completed an EP1HS which identified a suite of common habitats within the proposed development site. Immediately adjacent to the site boundary a number of habitat features exhibited characteristics to suggest that they could support protected species; further ecology surveys were therefore required.

Three ponds were found and Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) assessments were completed to determine the potential suitability of these ponds to support breeding populations of Great Crested Newts (GCN). HSI assessment for GCN is a numerical index, between 0 and 1, and provides a measure of habitat suitability; in general, ponds with high HSI scores are more likely to support GCN than those with low scores. This assessment concluded that these ponds were highly unlikely to support GCN and no further works in relation to this species were therefore required.

Around the site boundary a number of mature Oak trees were present, with Potential Roost Features (PRF) for bats identified. Bat surveys, through the aerial inspection of these PRFs, were completed by our team of licenced tree climbers to determine the presence/likely absence of roosting bats. During these surveys Barn Owl surveys were also undertaken, to evaluate the potential presence of this species breeding in trees in the area.

Signs of Badgers were observed in the vicinity of the site, including prints, hairs and latrines. A dedicated Badger survey was completed which identified two Badger setts, some distance from the proposed development site.

Finally, an Otter survey was completed focusing on the riparian habitats near the site. This survey was completed by searching for field signs of this species, and also though the deployment of camera traps.

Following the evaluation of all survey data, the compilation of reports and the assessment of likely effects, no significant adverse ecological impacts were predicted. The development will include a large amount of native tree and shrub planting, the installation of bat boxes, Badger gates in all fence lines and a Barn Owl box to ecologically enhance the ground. Hopefully the children who enjoy their cricket at this new facility in southeast Shropshire will get to share it with some interesting wildlife as a result of these enhancements.

Bats and Trees

In January 2016 the Bat Conservation Trust released its third update of Bat Surveys for Professional Ecologists: Good Practice Guidelines; this being the essential guidance for professional bat ecologists. The updated document includes a number of new sections and chapters, one of which is ‘Bat roost inspection surveys for trees’. Bat surveys of trees are necessary where development proposals include tree felling or lopping where bats or their roosts could be directly impacted, if present. Surveys may also be needed in circumstances where an indirect impact is possible (e.g. through lighting).

The survey method is a staged process starting with a preliminary ground level roost inspection, which may be followed by a Potential Roost Feature inspection, presence/likely absence and/or roost characterisation surveys.

In 2015 members of the BiOME team completed the City & Guilds NPTC course Level 2 award in Tree Climbing and Aerial Rescue. This qualification, along with the team members relevant bat survey/disturbance licences, allowed BiOME to complete bat roost surveys of trees at a number of sites for clients across the UK.

Photo:  Using and endoscope to survey the cavity within a rot hole

Photo: Using and endoscope to survey the cavity within a rot hole

Photo:  A single bat dropping within the above rot hole

Photo: A single bat dropping within the above rot hole