A preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) provides a baseline assessment of the habitats present within a defined area. The PEA, formerly known as an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey, is the most common type of habitat survey which is used to support planning applications. This survey identifies any potential constraints to the site, such as identifying important hedgerows, areas of ancient woodland, or habitats which would be considered to be of principle importance. Further surveys such as the National Vegetation Classification Survey (NVC) would be required on sites which have the potential to support rare or potentially protected species. Whilst the PEA can be undertaken all year round, more specialist vegetation surveys are restricted to suitable times of the year, most notably the flowering period (spring and summer).
The Ecology Partnership undertakes a range of bat surveys to identify how bats are using the landscape as well as roosting sites. Building inspections for roosts are undertaken during the day; however, further survey work involves activity and emergence surveys undertaken at dusk as well as dawn re-entry surveys or return to roost surveys. These surveys are undertaken in the summer months from May – September with some surveys being undertaken in April and October. The Ecology Partnership also uses a range of techniques, such as DNA analysis and the use of remote sound recording devices. Bats in the UK hibernate during the colder months and as such hibernation surveys are undertaken from November through to March (weather dependent). Internal and external building assessments can be conducted all year round. Initial tree inspection surveys are best during the winter months when trees are not in leaf, however, potential roost features can be inspected all year round. Read more about Bat surveys.
Badger surveys involve the identification of holes, trails, latrines and feeding signs. Badgers do not hibernate but do become less active in the winter months. Badgers give birth early in the year (around February). The Ecology Partnership surveys for badgers use field signs as well as remote camera monitoring which can provide valuable information on the status and use of a badger sett. Activity generally increases from March through to October and it is recommended that monitoring surveys are undertaken in this period. Initial badger surveys, such as identifying location and extent of setts, can be undertaken all year round. Read more about Badger surveys.
The Ecology Partnership undertakes a range of bird surveys. This includes specialist surveys for species such as barn owls or black redstarts, undertaking nesting bird surveys, breeding bird surveys or wintering bird surveys. Read more about Bird surveys.
Dormice are associated with woodland, hedgerows, and areas of connective habitat which can include areas of scrub. Hazelnuts are the favourite food of dormice, so gnawed hazelnuts are a good way to identify the presence of dormice. This survey should be carried out ideally between November and December but can also occur through to March. Nest surveys can be carried out from April to November. Read more about Dormice surveys.
Great Crested Newt Survey
Newt habitat suitability surveys on both terrestrial and pond habitats (HSI surveys) can be undertaken throughout the year. As during the cold months (November to February) newts are hibernating, pond surveys are carried out between March and June, whilst eDNA surveys (a technique of identifying the presence of newts by analysing DNA fragments in water samples) occur during April to the end of June. Larval surveys can only be carried out in August or September. Read more about Newt surveys.
Spring is the best time for otter surveys; however, surveys can be carried out throughout the year and an assessment of the site’s suitability to support otters can occur all year round. Read more about Otter surveys.
Reptiles are only active during warm months, usually between March/April until September/ October but surveys are weather dependent. July and August are considered to be sub-optimal in terms of surveying. Read more about Reptile surveys.
Water Vole Survey
Habitat suitability surveys for water voles can be carried out throughout the year. However, field sign and activity surveys can only take place between March and October. Evidence of the species’ presence can sometimes be limited by vegetation cover. Read more about Water vole surveys.
Breeam & Code for Sustainable Homes
Surveys to support BREEAM and CFSH assessment can be undertaken throughout the year and are usually based on the standard PEA surveying methodology. Read more about BREEAM & code surveys.