Wind Farm

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

Breeding Bird Surveys in Wales – Curlews in Trouble

During 2015 BiOME completed a suite of breeding bird surveys in relation to a proposed wind farm development in mid-Wales. These surveys included Vantage Point surveys, Red Kite Milvus milvus surveys, Brown & Shepherd walkover surveys and a detailed programme of Curlew Numenius arquata surveys, which were a key consideration during the Environmental Impact Assessment. At this site up to three pairs of Curlew are known to have bred in the past, with nests typically in a mosaic of Heather Calluna spp. and grassland (‘Ffridd’; an important habitat type in Wales that is also under threat). However, in 2015 just one pair nested and although four eggs were laid, the nest failed early during the incubation process due to predation – a similar story to previous years of monitoring at this site.

The Curlew is one of the UKs most rapidly declining breeding bird species showing a 46% decline across the UK (1994-2010) with declines of 50% evident in Wales and Scotland. These declines have resulted in Curlew being upgraded to the Red List within the recently updated Birds of Conservation Concern 4. Consequently, the species is subject to ongoing studies with the aim of understanding the reasons for the decline. This includes national projects coordinated by the RSPB, an appeal by the BTO, and a local project on the Shropshire / Wales border. This latter project includes the use of camera traps to monitor nests and radio-tracking juveniles to try and determine breeding success – of 13 nests found in 2015 no young successfully fledged. A repeat of this project is planned for the 2016 breeding season, which BiOME intends to voluntarily support.

Photo : Curlew nest within Ffridd

Photo: Curlew nest within Ffridd

Photo : Curlew standing guard near nest location

Photo: Curlew standing guard near nest location