Why winter bird surveys?

There are many bird species that generally only visit the UK during the autumn and winter. Included amongst these are the Red-listed fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) and redwing (Turdus iliacus). To these, and other wintering species, the UK as important as it is to breeding spring and summer migrants, with the country providing shelter from extreme weather and a source of abundant food. Winter food sources are also just as important to resident bird species.

Winter bird surveys are important to establish the location of food sources and determine whether they are at risk from a proposed development. As with breeding birds, the protection of these food sources and favoured habitats can be of importance on an international scale.

Barn owl in nest box

Barn owl in nest box

Protection for wintering birds

All wintering birds are protected under elements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (as amended) 1981, with similar acts applied in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also ensuring the protection of wintering birds. More information on general protection for birds can be found under ‘Protection for breeding birds’ here.

What does a winter bird survey consist of?

This type of survey requires up to four surveys, one per month. Surveys are ideally carried out during the months of November, December, January and February.

Surveys for winter birds involve an experienced ecologist visiting the site at least three times. A transect is walked around the potential development site and bird species and their behaviour are mapped. An assessment can then be made of the significance of the species present and an estimate of the number of wintering birds.

This information can be used to design works to avoid impact on wintering birds and to mitigate for any loss of foraging habitat.

Why Baker Consultants?

Baker Consultants have significant in-house expertise in the full range of bird surveys. For general information on our bird survey expertise, visit our bird surveys page where you can listen to Carlos Abrahams, our Technical Director, discussing a typical bird survey, or read our pages on wetland bird surveys and breeding bird surveys.

Contact a member of our team to discuss your project today