Bird surveys

At Baker Consultants, we offer a wide range of bird surveys, including breeding bird surveys, winter bird surveys, wetland bird surveys and vantage point surveys.

Bird surveys are integral to the suite of surveys preceding many developments, as many bird species (particularly wildfowl, raptor and wader species) are protected under UK and/or international legislation. Additionally, surveys, such as vantage point surveys, are often conducted in coastal or wetland areas. In these cases, birds are not only protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (as amended) 1981 (and similar acts applied in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) but also other wider legislation such as that covering Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for birds and areas recognised under the international Ramsar Conservation of Wetlands agreement as Wetlands of International Importance.

The following surveys are outlined in full on separate pages, so please follow the links below to read about:

Ecologist Steve Docker surveying birds by Ecologist Martin Ledger

Ecologist Steve Docker surveying birds by Ecologist Martin Ledger

The Common Bird Census

The Common Bird Census (CBC) is the standard technique of recording bird species and their behaviour and is used to estimate the number and positions of territories of each species present in an area during the breeding season (although annotations used within the CBC can be used for winter bird surveys also).

The technique is used during breeding bird surveys and winter bird surveys. Surveyors plot all birds seen or heard on site using unique codes to note each bird’s species, with sex and age where possible, and also to record activity such as song or nest-building. The registrations can then be analysed to successfully establish the potential breeding status and number of territories on a surveyed site. This is the favoured recording technique used during breeding (and winter bird surveys).

Typical annotated map following a bird survey

Typical annotated map following a bird survey

Vantage point surveys

Vantage point surveys are principally used on proposed wind farm sites and other large developments, to record the movements of birds flying over and landing within the proposed development area. Many bird species will fly fairly regular routes or land in specific fields, for example between roosting and feeding sites or during seasonal migration. It is important to understand if a development will interrupt or displace these flight routes or cause significant injury to bird populations.

Vantage point surveys will take at least 6 – 18 months to complete and require a suitably qualified and experienced ecologist. Surveys can be started at any time of the year and, prior to the start of fieldwork, a site assessment must take place to understand the number of vantage points required and to decide on the likely survey effort. As a minimum, 36 hours per season of vantage point survey will be required, although sensitive sites could require significantly more effort. The surveyor will at times need to work between dusk and dawn.

Data gathered during vantage point surveys can be used to develop collision risk models for key species and inform avoidance and mitigation measures to be included in an Ecological Impact Assessment.

Technical Director talks birds

In the video below, our Technical Director Carlos Abrahams talks you through a typical bird survey, set to a photo montage of pictures taken in the field.

Why Baker Consultants?

Baker Consultants have significant in-house expertise in the full range of bird surveys. For more information on our bird survey expertise read our pages on breeding bird surveys, wetland bird surveys and winter bird surveys.

Contact a member of our team to discuss your project today