There is a distinct increase in requests for Ecological Appraisals in the summer months, but the seasonal shift in this type of survey should not exist. Why? Because an Ecological Appraisal can be undertaken at any time of year. You would be forgiven for thinking that ecology can only be done in the spring and summer, however. Ecologists certainly give that impression because we are exceptionally busy at these times. Indeed, much of the detailed survey work for protected species is somewhat seasonally restricted to when the species are active, but there is also a considerable amount that can be done at other times.
Getting to know what can be done at any one time, and what has to be done in certain months can be a huge advantage, smoothing the progress of a project whilst minimising delays and additional cost.
Surveys that can be done at ANY time of the year include Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, Phase 1 Habitat Surveys and Bat Preliminary Roost Assessments. These are the first-stage surveys that provide assessment of the potential impacts of a project on protected species and habitats of conservation interest and upon designated sites. Having a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal will avoid potential rejection when submitting a planning application and will prevent any unwanted surprises.
Detailed survey work for protected species is sometimes required if a species may be impacted by the proposals. This includes bat activity or presence / absence surveys, reptile presence / absence surveys and great crested newt presence / absence surveys. Much of this has to be done when the species is active, which is why it is seasonally restricted. For example bat surveys must be undertaken between May and September if surveying for summer roost site, such as maternity roosts and in most cases at least some of the survey work should be undertaken between June –early August. Surveys for great crested newts are more restrictive again; presence / absence surveys should be undertaken between March – June with at least two undertaken between mid-April to mid-May. DNA analysis of water bodies can reduce the survey effort, but even this needs to be taken in the survey period also.
By ensuring the Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, Phase 1 Habitat Surveys and Preliminary Roost Assessments for bats are undertaken as early as possible in a project it avoids the risk that the narrow windows for further survey are missed. However, as is often the case, there are always exceptions. The following surveys for some species or groups can be undertaken at any time, and a few are best undertaken in winter:
Take a look at our general survey timetable below (or download the PDF version here) to get an idea of what survey work can be done and when, but do bear in mind that every site is different and the survey requirements are dependant upon the circumstances and what data it is necessary to obtain. If you have any questions please get in touch as detailed below...
NOTE: General Survey season for detailed survey e.g. to determine presence / absence (not all-encompassing)
NOTE: The ideal survey period and survey methodology is dependent upon the data being obtained and also upon the weather / climatic conditions in that season / year.
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August 2015: Verity Webster discusses bats, buildings and bat surveys... >>
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