Breeding bird survey

Breeding birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). This makes it an offence to intentionally kill or injure any wild bird or to damage or destroy any active birds nest or its eggs. Furthermore, bird species listed on Schedule 1 of the Act are afforded additional protection from wilful or reckless disturbance at an active nest site or whilst adults are with dependant young (such as Cirl Bunting, Kingfisher and Barn Owl).

Developments resulting in the removal of vegetation suitable for nesting birds (such as hedgerows, trees, scrub, rough grassland) or impacting on features suitable for nesting birds (such as buildings or water courses) may require input from an experienced ecologist to assess the potential impacts on nesting birds.

Where removal of small areas of vegetation are required, it is considered best practice to clear this during winter months (i.e. outside of the bird breeding season which runs from March to August) to avoid risks to nesting birds where possible. However if clearance is required within the breeding period then it should be immediately preceded by a nesting check by an experienced ecologist. This will involve an ecologist visiting the site during the post-dawn period on the day of the planned vegetation removal to monitor for nest building or territorial activity. Where active nests are identified it may be necessary to retain a vegetation buffer in the immediate surrounds until the young have fledged or the nesting attempt has ended.

At large sites or those involving more extensive loss of vegetation or priority habitats, it may be necessary to undertake a suite of breeding bird surveys to support a planning application (normally following Common Bird Census (CBC) methodology). These surveys are undertaken by specialist ornithologists and involve mapping of breeding related activity across multiple survey visits. These will look for presence of breeding or foraging by notable or protected species, as well as looking at the ecological value of the bird assemblages at the site as a whole. Features of particular value to breeding or foraging birds can be identified and incorporated into mitigation plans as necessary.

In addition to the above we are also able to provide staff with personal class licences for Barn Owl to undertake specific Barn Owl surveys.

We are also able to undertake specialist surveys for both wintering and breeding Cirl Bunting, which are a significant planning consideration in South Devon for sites located within the consultation zones (please see https://new.devon.gov.uk/environment/wildlife/wildlife-and-geology-planning-guidance for more details).

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