Archive for November, 2011

Starlings flocking and coming in to roost at Moore Nature Reserve Cheshire

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Starlings flocking and coming into roost at Moore Nature Reserve, Warrington, Cheshire. Filmed by Stewart while walking the dog in November.

Most of the starlings were coming in from the east along the reserve from the direction of Runcorn and joining the main flock. The birds were coming in low in a steady trickle. When they eventually started to drop from the sky and pour into the reed beds a sparrowhawk turned up and waited perched on the ground between two banks of reeds.

We decided to leave before the sparrowhawk got a meal. The aerial display was well worth watching and is always an amazing sight.

Caring for chickens!

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Ex-battery hens. Source:

An estimated 24 million egg-laying chickens are kept in battery cages in the UK at any one time. As the impending ban on barren battery cages draws closer many farmers are looking to empty their barren cages.

United Environmental Services Ltd think all laying hens deserve to enjoy natural freedoms whilst they lay tasty eggs for us to eat; that means freedom to roam on green pasture, freedom to enjoy sunshine, freedom to scratch for insects and freedom to lay an egg in a nest.

The British Hen Welfare Trust is looking for volunteers to take care of the last UK battery hens. If like UES you think you can care for some ex-battery hens, register online on the British Hen Welfare Trust website.

Bat and ecological scoping survey in Swindon

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

UES recently completed a bat and ecological scoping survey of a farm in Swindon. Our client has plans to demolish a number of buildings on site and convert other buildings for use as a hotel.

13 buildings were surveyed in total, of which 5 were identified as having high potential for use by bats. Low number of bat droppings believed to be long-eared species Plecotus were found in the internal roof spaces of the farmhouse. UES recommended further surveys on these buildings prior to the start on site to determine how many bats are present and how they are using the buildings.

All bats and their roosts are fully protected by law. Without detailed surveys you are at risk of destroying a bat roost or foraging grounds, which could have devastating consequences for the local bat population, and could land you with a fine or even a jail sentence and some very bad publicity.

During the survey UES recognised that the buildings and trees on site were all suitable for use by roosting and breeding birds, therefore any building works should be carried out outside of the breeding bird season (March to August inclusive) in order that breeding birds are not affected. If this is not possible then either a targeted breeding bird survey should be carried out or an ecological clerk of works appointed.

All breeding birds are protected under schedule 9 of the wildlife and countryside act 1981(as amended). Wild birds are protected from being killed, injured or captured. Their nests are protected from being damaged, destroyed or taken. Several species are included in schedule 1 of the act which gives them and their young protection while nesting.

The presence of protected species is a material consideration when a planning authority is considering a development proposal. The presence of protected species and the effect of the proposed development must be established before planning permission can be granted.

Bat scoping survey in Lancashire

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

UES recently completed a bat scoping survey of a house and associated outbuildings in Lancashire. Our client has plans to demolish a number of buildings onsite and is applying for planning permission for a new build housing scheme.

The aim of the survey was to assess the site for the presence of bat roosts and bat activity within the structure of the buildings. The buildings were searched both externally and internally for bat presence and features associated with bat activity, as detailed in Bat Conservation Trust guidance (2007).

No field signs of bats such as droppings, feeding remains, rubbing or urine stains were found during the building inspections, and as such UES deemed that no further survey work was required in relation to bats.

However, house sparrows were observed breeding inside the building, and therefore mitigation and compensation measures were suggested in relation to breeding birds as ‘The Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981’ states that all wild birds are protected. Under the WCA, it is an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird, to take damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird, or to take or destroy the egg of any wild bird.

Dormouse survey in Oxfordshire

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

UES have recently completed a dormouse survey of a site in Oxfordshire. The proposed development involves the removal of a number of trees along a woodland edge to form encampments.

UES completed an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey of the site in May 2011. The survey highlighted areas of low coppiced hazel, coppiced silver birch, blackthorn and honeysuckle within the woodland which have some potential for use by dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius).

UES completed a desk study of the site, which found records of dormice in a SSSI woodland near to the proposed site, as such dormouse presence / absence surveys were completed, which involved searching the site for hazelnuts that had been characteristically gnawed by dormice.

Bats and badgers in Buckinghamshire

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

UES conducted a full bat survey of a barn in Marlow, Buckinghamshire in September 2011. Our client plans to change the use of the barn from agricultural to a dwelling.

Low numbers of common species of bats were observed using the area to forage and commute. The species recorded were Common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Soprano pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus.

During the course of the survey some evidence of badgers was found including feeding remains and a latrine. A single badger was also observed in a hole on the northwest corner of the barn.

UES are currently completing badger monitoring surveys of the site in Buckinghamshire using remote wildlife cameras. Remote cameras are ideal for badger monitoring surveys allowing you to set it up onsite and return later to collect your images. Remote cameras can be set to take pictures or videos regularly with the time lapse facility, or when it is triggered by an animal moving into the field of view. Either way, it gives a remarkable insight into the wildlife in the vicinity.

Bat research workshop in Crete

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

During September Toby attended a week long bat research workshop in a small coastal village called Sougia in Crete. In 2008, 17 bat species of bats had been recorded on Crete, some of which only occur in the eastern Mediterranean. The European free-tailed bat (Tadarida teniotis) is the most widely recorded species, but also found on this island are Blasius’s horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus blasii), Long-fingered bat (Myotis capaccinii), Kuhl’s pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhli), Savi’s pipistrelle (Pipistrellus savi), Hanaki ‘s dwarf bat (Pipistrellus hanaki), plus Kolombatovic’s long-eared bat (Plecotus kolombatovici) and Mountain long-eared bat (Plecotus macrobullaris).

Toby was involved in carrying out an inventory of bats in the southwest of Crete by a combination of bat detector surveys, trapping at underground site entrances and at ponds, over streams and in gorges, including the 17km long Samaria Gorge, which is one of the longest gorges in Europe.

Species Toby recorded in Crete;

  • European free-tailed bat
  • Lesser horseshoe (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
  • Greater horseshoe (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)
  • Blasius’s horseshoe bat
  • Kuhl’s pipistrelle
  • Savi’s pipistrelle
  • Hanaki ‘s dwarf bat
  • Long-fingered bat
  • Lesser mouse-eared bat (Myotis blythii)
  • Whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus)
  • Lesser mouse-eared subspecies
  • Shreiber’s bat (Miniopterus schreibersii)
  • Mountain long-eared bat
  • Kolombatovic’s long-eared bat