Its that time of year again to begin planning ecological surveys so your project can move ahead without delays due to lack of ecological survey as local planning authorities and councils will not condition protected species surveys as they are a material planning consideration and all works must be submitted upfront with your planning application. So now is the time to start planning for surveys such as nesting birds, great crested newts, reptiles, bats and water voles.
With the changes to the legislation in the use of drones I have recently completed my A2 CofC certification allowing me to fly drones for commercial purposes. In the future I will be looking at how this technology can be incorporated into helping with surveys.
I can already see them being used to rapidly map habitat sites to provide up to date accurate aerial imagery to aid in producing habitat mapping which is increasingly important with the upcoming Environment Bill and proposals for biodiversity net gain and to provide imagery of roofing when inspecting more harder to access areas when assessing buildings for bat roost potential
I completed the course with these guys 'PIGS CAN FLY' https://pigscanfly.photography/the-%C2%A399-a2-cofc
After making the decision to invest in infrared camcorders two years ago they have come into their own this year with changes to how site surveys have been carried out especially with social distancing. Infrared camcorders such as the Canon XA30 and Sony AX100 and AX700 with the assistance of artificial infrared lighting can record in complete darkness and with the AX700 you can record HD at 120 frames per second which for bats is extremely useful as they emerge at speed from the roost point and a split second to look at your notes or detector and bang you missed the bat emerge whereas the camera doesnt blink and can record in complete darkness as if in daylight. The lights are powered by 12V DC portable battery usually used for charging mobile phones or as backup to power a router.
These camcorders have been used to do roost counts on emegence surveys and on swarming surveys at dawn, the ability to see through the darkness means that bats dont get missed and each individual bat can be counted in and counted out, the BCT guidance from 2016 doesnt really detail the use of camcorders and is critical of the limited field of view but this simply isnt the case with a 28mm lens which is wider than our own field of view; where you have species such as brown long eared bats which are often silent when emerging from a roost or when light sampling inside a barn, the use of infrared filming can be used to identify bats without disturbing them as the infrared lights do not impact on bats unlike conventional torches or those fitted with red filters. Hopefully the guidance gets updated to reflect the use of these camcorders in the same way thermal imaging was looked at.
The camcorders are also useful to locate the exact roost point for example by recording bats emerging from tiles high up on a roof which at night is often extremely difficult especially if not backlit and having a pictorial record ofthe bats emerging or re-entering a roost provides certainty of accuracy of surveys without needless repeat surveys because the exact roost point hasnt been detected on site surveys.
CIEEM and DEFRA have produced guidance to ecologists and 'outdoor workers' to carry on with survey work where public health advice on social distancing can be maintained, therefore where possible surveys are still being undertaken by Ardea Ecology in accordance with best practice for health and safety and each site is being dealt with on a case by case basis.
Very happy to see a selection of photos that I provided to Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service for use on their new website on display, the website looks great and glad to have helped out.
Here are a couple of links while you are there check out all of the information on the site, of all the places I worked or visited in Australia Tasmania has to be my favourite, some of the best wildlife and landscapes you will see in Australia so definately make the time to get down there you wont regret it. Great cakes and sandwiches at JJ's Bakery and Old Mill Cafe in Longford as well - https://www.facebook.com/jjslaunceston/
We are now well into the survey season for bats, so if you are looking to submit planning applications that are likely to impact upon bat species now is the time to start commissioning bat surveys as the local planning authority will not condition bat surveys, so you could face delays and/or refusal of planning permission for lack of survey effort.
Some useful guidelines on what bat surveys are for and how they are conducted can be found here - CIEEM bat survey guide.
Pleased to announce that my independent ecological consultancy Ardea Ecology (www.ardeaecology.co.uk) has achieved Registered Practice status with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). This achievement demonstrates my commitment to providing a quality pragmatic ecological service to my clients, maintaining professional high standards and my continued enthusiasm to promote biodiversity and conservation of wildlife and habitats in line with CIEEM’s goals.
We are now well into the active season for bat surveys so if you have a potential development site or a site that is likley to contain bats, or if you are planning on submitting planning application for a site later in the year, please take into account that the local council or planning authority will not condition surveys for bats or surveys for other protected species and may therefore reject your application or refuse it for lack of surveys, so please contact us to get some advice or survey booked in. We hold survey and mitigation licences for bats and have vast experience of bat ecology, licensing and the planning system.