ECOLOGY SURVEY CALENDAR
Here at Wharton, we offer an extensive range of ecology surveys for a wide choice of different habitats and species. Each of our surveys is carried out by our team of professional ecologists, who will be happy to help you with all of your ecology survey needs.
PROTECTED SPECIES SURVEY CALENDAR
If you are planning to commission an ecological survey, you may have many questions about the survey process and when it can take place. Here we will explain the optimum times of the year to conduct each of the different ecology surveys to gain the most reliable, accurate results.
It is also worth noting that Local Planning Authority (LPA) ecologists will not accept ecological surveys that are carried out outside of optimal times of year unless there is a very strong ecological justification.
PHASE 1 HABITAT SURVEY
A phase 1 habitat survey can take place at any time of the year. However, the optimum months to conduct this survey technique are April, May, June, July, and August.
Phase 1 Habitat surveys (also known as a PEA or scoping survey) aims to assess all habitat types present at a Site and whether those habitats are suitable for any protected species, helping to determine whether a species-specific survey is required. A broad scope is necessary so that all habitat types that may be impacted by a Proposed Development are captured. During a phase 1 habitat survey, the ecologist will conduct a walkover of the site. When performing this survey, the ecologist will identify and classify habitats and map the site.
The extended phase 1 habitat survey, often referred to as a preliminary ecological assessment (PEA), covers the same process as the phase 1 habitat study, but this extended survey goes a step further. The PEA will also identify the site’s potential for use by protected species. The results of these surveys can then be used in decision-making to determine whether more detailed Phase 2 habitat or protected species surveys are warranted. Because many Phase 2 surveys are seasonally restricted, it is critical to complete the Extended Phase 1 Habitat survey as soon as possible to avoid potential delays.
Here at Wharton, we will always carry out an extended phase 1 habitat survey as standard.
ECOLOGY SURVEY CALENDAR BY SPECIES
Badger surveys can be conducted year-round, but the optimum survey period for badgers is from October to April. This is because observing badgers is easier when the dense vegetation in their habitat has died back, which improves visibility to see sett entrances and other field signs.
Different species of invertebrates will require different survey times as their behaviours and habitats vary. The optimal period to conduct a terrestrial invertebrate survey is between April and September. While freshwater invertebrate surveys for flowing waters are best conducted from mid-March to April and September to mid-October. Invertebrate surveys in standing waters are best carried out from June to August.
Water voles are less active in winter, so the best time to survey them is between April and September. However, depending on conditions, you may be able to survey water voles as early in the year as March and as late as October.
Water voles survey must comprise two visits to the Site. The first survey must be undertaken between mid-April-June, this during the peak breeding season and before the vegetation has grown, and the second survey must be undertaken between July-September, when juveniles are leaving their mother’s burrow and the population is at the highest- increasing our chances our recording water vole if they are present.
Surveys must not be carried out after periods of heavy rain as field signs will likely have been washed away.
There are multiple different survey types that are carried out for great crested newts (GCN).
Initially, a habitat suitability index (HSI) survey can be carried out on ponds within the site or influencing distance of the site, this can be conducted at any time of the year but March to September are the optimum months.
If the ponds reach a threshold for further survey work the next step is often to carry out an eDNA survey. An egg search can also be carried out within the emergent vegetation surrounding the ponds. This must be undertaken during the GCN breeding season between mid-April to June inclusive.
If the results of the eDNA survey return negative for the presence of GCN then likely absence at the ponds can be assumed and no further survey work will be required for GCN at the Site.
If GCN presence is confirmed within any of the ponds during the eDNA survey or the egg search further survey work will be required to determine the population size of the GCN present within the local area/ponds.
These surveys include surveying the ponds at the Site six times to determine GCN population size. They must be carried out between mid-March and June, with at least three surveys occurring between mid-April and mid-May.
There are multiple different survey types that are carried out for bats. The first survey required is usually a preliminary roost assessment (PRA), this is an initial inspection which will inform the need for further surveys dependent on the findings. Further surveys can most commonly include; activity/ emergence surveys and/or hibernation surveys.
PRAs can take place at any time of the year.
The optimum time to conduct bat activity/emergence surveys is from May to August and occasionally into September (weather dependent).
Finally, bat hibernation surveys should be conducted from December to February.
Reptile surveys can be conducted from April to September. However, the optimum months to carry out the survey are April, May, June, and September.
As you would expect, wintering bird surveys take place during the winter months. Winter bird surveys may be conducted at regular intervals between November and February.
While it is possible to conduct an otter survey at any point in the year, spring is often the most favourable time. During the spring months, it should be easier to observe otters as vegetation is still sparse, which allows a clearer view of the otters’ habitat.
Surveys must not be carried out after periods of heavy rain and/or when water levels are high as field signs will likely have been washed away.
Dormice hibernate each winter, so it is crucial to keep this in mind when planning your survey. Dormice usually go into hibernation from December to the end of March, although this is largely dependent on food availability and can vary. The optimum times to conduct a survey of dormice are from April to June and from September to November.
The best time of year to survey breeding birds is usually from March to July. Every species of birds breed at slightly different times, so the precise time to carry out your survey will vary.
If you require a white-clawed crayfish survey, the best time to complete this is from July to October. However, it is possible to carry out habitat appraisals of the watercourse at any time of the year.
BOOK YOUR ECOLOGY SURVEY TODAY
Here at Wharton, we conduct an extensive range of ecology surveys on your behalf. Our ecologists are experienced and have a wealth of knowledge in their field they will determine the best time of year to conduct surveys based on the objectives of your project and the characteristics of the site.
Contact us today to discover how we can take care of the ecology surveys that you need to progress your project. Simply fill in our online form to tell us a little more about your project, and we will provide you with a quote as soon as possible.
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WHAT AFFECTS THE ECOLOGY SURVEY CALENDAR
The ecological survey calendar can be impacted by a range of different environmental factors. These factors include the characteristics of the survey site, the weather conditions, the geographic location of the site, and the behaviour of the species that will be surveyed.