Protecting the UK’s Wild & Breeding Birds
Did you know that there are more than 500 species of birds recorded in the UK only? These consist of resident birds (which breed both in summer and winter), migrants and birds that occur on passage. From rural to urban areas, birds occur everywhere – and researching, advising and conducting all aspects of bird surveys before developing a project is of utmost importance of their protection.
Protecting Wild Birds: Why Is It Important
The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 dictates that all wild birds, their nests and young shall be protected throughout England and Wales. Killing, injuring or taking any wild bird or damaging its nest or eggs is therefore illegal – and the legislation applies to all bird species, common and rare.
If any nests, are found during the process of building or upon its completion, any works with the potential to damaging or destroying this nest, eggs or young birds must stop until the birds complete breeding. Birds may nest on machinery or scaffolding and other temporary site structures as well – and any disturbance of a breeding Schedule 1 bird is an offence, regardless of whether this impacts upon the breeding attempt.
If there are birds that nest on machinery or scaffolding and other types of equipment, that equipment cannot be used until the birds finish the nesting process. Breaking the law leads to fines of up to £5000 per offense.
Bird Surveys and Mitigation: Solving This Problem
There are a lot of different bird species that show different preferences in regards to their nesting. While some species are predominantly scrub or ground-nesting, others favour trees and there are several species such as swallows and swifts which have adapted to nesting in on or buildings and man-made structures.
The usual time for birds to build their nests and lay their eggs is between March and end of August – and the peak months for breeding are May and June. However, there are exceptions to this rule – but generally, birds may be found breeding on a construction site during these periods.
This is how breeding bird surveys come to action. They are conducted in suitable habitat with a methodology based on the BTO Breeding Bird Survey (also known as BBS). This procedure starts with a site visit on a minimum of four occasions, where each visit commences at dawn in order to record the numbers and species of birds present.
Deciding If You Need A Bird Survey
Ideally, you should decide if you need to survey. For instance, bird surveys should be done for developments that involve natural habitats such as woodland, scrub or moorland areas, agricultural buildings being changed, converted or demolished. Also, areas that are connected to lines of trees which are connected to woodland or water and trees that are more than 100 years old are included in the most common bird populated areas.
The bird surveys include analysis on all types of birds including barn owls, breeding birds, wintering birds, red and amber list birds of conservation concern and other birds listed in the schedules and sections of the Wildlife and Countryside and Natural Environment and Rural Communities acts accordingly.