Winter is upon us and some species of wildlife have started to hibernate.
However, you could be mistaken into thinking that you have to wait until springtime to start ecological surveys. Depending on the type of site, there are many different types of survey that can be carried out in winter.
Phase 1 Surveys
Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, written into Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, can be carried out at any time of the year. Depending on the outcome of the survey, further survey work could be required to support a planning application.
Winter bird surveys
If your site contains farmland or large waterbodies, winter bird surveys could be required to support a planning application, depending on the geographical location, local planning policy, and potential impacts. Winter bird surveys are carried out between November and March, typically comprising 3-5 visits.
Badgers do not hibernate in the winter, therefore it is possible to survey for badgers throughout the year. In fact, winter and early spring surveys for badgers can yield particularly useful results, given that vegetation has died back (which could obscure evidence), and births typically happen between mid-January and mid-March.
Preliminary bat roost assessments
Preliminary bat roost assessments can be carried out at any time of the year.
If your site contains buildings, a preliminary bat roost assessment is almost certainly required.
If basements or other underground structures are present, winter is the only suitable time to survey for hibernating bats.
Winter is also the best time to carry out preliminary roost surveys on trees, because the dense foliage that grows in the summer (which can hide potential roosting features) has died away.
If site vegetation clearance will be required, winter may be the best time to carry out work in order to avoid the bird nesting season (March-August). Depending on the type of habitats in the site, consideration should also be given to the risk of disturbing other protected species, such as hibernating reptiles. Work should therefore be planned accordingly.
Please get in touch with our team of experienced ecologists to discuss your requirements.