Camera Trapping

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.

Uncovering the Deserts Secrets; Exploring Western Sahara’s Remote Massifs

Photo : Oued and massifs in Western Sahara

Photo: Oued and massifs in Western Sahara

In March, several members of the BiOME team return to Western Sahara to collect our Minox camera traps from a variety of locations in the interior of this Moroccan territory. These camera traps have been in-situ for exactly one year; this being the first time that prolonged camera trapping has occurred in this region. Rapid assessment using the same method over a shorter period last year provided an exciting taster to what species may still occur in the massifs and oueds of this corner of the Sahara. African Golden Wolf Canis anthus and African Wildcat Felis silvestris lybica were among an impressive list of mammals captured; what will 2016 deliver?

Photo : Lesser Egyptian Jerboa  Jaculus jaculus

Photo: Lesser Egyptian Jerboa Jaculus jaculus

In addition, we are hoping to further our knowledge of bats in the region. Having previously discovered two species new to Western Sahara in 2015, Egyptian Free-tailed Bat Tadarida aegyptiaca and Egyptian Mouse-tailed Bat Rhinopoma cystops, BiOME will be looking once more for new species and new locations. This expedition is also serving as a reconnaissance mission as we push deeper into the interior of Western Sahara to a series of massifs almost completely unexplored by ecologists. The potential for discovery in this area is huge and we will keep you updated. We will be re-deploying the camera traps in these massifs with the hope of recording Barbary Sheep Ammotragus lervia, a caprid on the verge of extinction in Western Sahara.

Photo :  BiOMEs Richard Moores examining a male Egyptian Free-tailed Bat   Tadarida aegyptiaca  in 2015

Photo: BiOMEs Richard Moores examining a male Egyptian Free-tailed Bat Tadarida aegyptiaca in 2015

Photo:     BiOME bat researcher examing Egyptian Free-tailed Bat   Tadarida aegyptiaca

Photo:  BiOME bat researcher examing Egyptian Free-tailed Bat Tadarida aegyptiaca

Finally we will be putting the finishing logistical touches to our comprehensive cetacean survey of Dakhla Bay which will run in 2017. This is will be first survey since 1998 and will be critical in establishing the status of Atlantic Humpback Dolphin Sousa teuszii in the bay, a species on the verge of extinction at its northern-most global outpost in this location.

Watch this space!