5 things you need to know before winter



1. The bat survey season ends in September.

The end of September means the end of bat surveys (much to most ecologist’s relief!). Bats hibernate over winter, meaning you can’t undertake nocturnal emergence surveys. The survey season reopens in May and so missing the survey window could result in long delays to your project. With just a few weeks left, get in touch now to see if your site requires a bat survey.

2. The Reptile survey season ends in October

Whilst many people don’t realise that we actually have 6 native species of reptile in the UK, many sites will require a suite of reptile surveys if the habitats are suitable. Reptiles typically prefer well-structured habitats, such as rough grassland and scrub, with a range of basking opportunities and good links to the wider landscape.

Reptile surveys require 8 separate survey visits, one to set out a series of Artificial Cover Objects (ACO’s), and seven further visits to check them for reptiles. Whilst surveys can continue into October (weather permitting), it is not best practice to carry out all surveys within one month, and so if you think your site may require these surveys get in touch now!

3. Wintering bird surveys can start in November

Wintering habitats or migration stop over locations, are just as important as breeding sites, and need to be considered for any development sites that may hold species of conservation over winter. Considering wintering birds at the early stages of planning will save time and money – and again, can delay planning if not done in season. Get these surveys booked in now to avoid missing the start of the wintering bird survey season!

4. Ecological Appraisals don’t stop over winter

At this time of year many ecologists may want to crawl into bed and not emerge again until next spring to catch up on some much needed rest. However, ecology stops for nobody, and ecological appraisals and constraints surveys can be undertaken throughout the winter months. Whilst it is best practice to undertake these surveys in spring/ summer, undertaking them in winter can be beneficial for your project. Getting a good understanding of any potential ecological constraints on your site during the winter, can ensure that come spring you can get all protected species surveys completed with no delays!

5. Protected species surveys are required prior to submission for planning – they won’t be conditioned!

All survey information is required up front to obtain planning permission, and this can’t be conditioned. This is so that the council can assess if the recommended mitigation will be sufficient so that no wildlife legislation is contravened during development. Making sure your surveys are booked in at the correct time of year, and consulting an ecologist early in the design process can save significant delays to a project.