Breeding Bird Survey

Whinchat Monitoring and Research Project - Shropshire

In the UK the Whinchat Saxicola rubetra population has declined by 53%, and 44% in England, in only 21 years (1995 and 2016). It is now localised within England, occurring in northern uplands and in pockets in the south, such as Salisbury Plain and the south-west. This severe decline in the breeding population saw the Whinchat move from the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern to the Red List in 2015.

During the 2019 breeding season BiOME are working on a Whinchat research project on the Long Mynd, Shropshire where the national population decline has been mirrored. This projects’ aim is to not only discover the reasons for the local decline, but also to be involved in developing ways of reversing it.

Nests will be found and birds colour-ringed; following which breeding success will be assessed and reasons for failure determined (when possible). Data in relation to habitat use will also be collected and assessed.

The colour-ring combination on each bird is unique, ensuring that individuals can be identified in the field. The proportion returning each following year will give an indication of longevity, and mortality rates.

The results of this research will be published here.

If you require any ornithological support please contact Martyn Owen (martyn@biomeconsulting.com)

Bird Surveys - Caithness

Bird Surveys - Caithness

Our team of ornithologists recently concluded 12 months of bird surveys at a proposed wind farm site in Caithness, Scotland.

During fieldwork a variety of breeding waders were encountered, as well as Twite and three pairs of Arctic Skua. It wasn’t all work though, and the team managed to find a variety of rare species during time between surveys, including Syke’s Warbler and American Wigeon amongst other species.

Our team of ornithologists cover all parts of the British Isles, and beyond. If you require support on you project, please contact Martyn Owen (martyn@biomeconsulting.com).

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

Solar Farms – EP1HS, Breeding Bird, Badger, Water Vole and Great Crested Newt Surveys

In recent years the UK has seen a huge increase in the number of solar farms using ground-mounted Photovoltaic (PV) panels. However, this increase slowed from April 2015 following the closure by the government of the subsidy scheme for large scale (>5MW, enough to power 2,500 homes) solar developments.  With further subsidy cuts for those developments <5MW planned for April 2016, it is expected that the number of new solar farms will unfortunately continue to fall.

There is currently limited research into the long-term ecological impacts of these developments, although it is thought that assuming appropriate consideration is given to the development location and the species / habitats present, effects should be generally insignificant. Indeed, there is often the potential to offer ecological enhancements as part of the development through the implementation of a Biodiversity Management Plan.

In 2015 BiOME completed surveys in relation to a number of proposed solar developments in Wales and England. These surveys included Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys followed by dedicated breeding bird surveys, Badger Meles meles, Water Vole Arvicola amphibious and Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus surveys which informed the Ecological Impact Assessment which was submitted in support of the planning applications.

Photo : Great Crested Newt (and a Great Diving Beetle  Dytiscus marginalis)  within a bottle trap, caught in Wales

Photo: Great Crested Newt (and a Great Diving Beetle Dytiscus marginalis) within a bottle trap, caught in Wales

Photo : A drainage ditch within a proposed solar farm site that was surveyed for Water Voles

Photo: A drainage ditch within a proposed solar farm site that was surveyed for Water Voles