Posts Tagged ‘amphibian survey’

Great crested newt survey volunteer

Thursday, March 21st, 2013
United Environmental Services has recently taken on volunteer Zoe Haysted:

‘I knew my placement year at Harper Adams University would be valuable in creating a more focused field of study, putting the theory into practice and helping my final year of studies including my dissertation. By volunteering with United Environmental Services, I hope to create a stepping stone into the ecological consultancy field, further my species identification and help towards gaining a Great crested newt protected species licence.

I am currently studying a BSc in Countryside and Environmental Management. My student placement is at Fenn’s, Whixalland Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve. I was lucky to be a part of the ‘Long Term Monitoring Project’ run by Natural England, which looked at lowland bog flora and furthered my interest into surveying.

At university, I had the opportunity to survey farmland birds, invertebrates and crop vegetation with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. I also volunteer with Silverdale Community Country Park and am soon to participate in invertebrate surveys.

I am looking forward to volunteering with UES during the Great crested newt survey season, which will give me invaluable experience in amphibian ecology, identification and Great crested newt survey methods.’

Large female Great crested newt

Freshwater invertebrates survey, RSPB nature reserve

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Karl Harrison, UES’ Graduate Ecologist, recently attended a freshwater invertebrate survey run by the RSPB at Coombes Valley Nature Reserve, Staffordshire.

The caterpillar of the Argent and Sable moth encases itself in birch leaves

The site is an oak woodland located in the steep sided Coombes Valley. It attracts a variety of woodland breeding birds including; flycatchers, redstarts and wood warblers. The site also has a small population of rare Argent and Sable moths (see photo).

The samples were taken from a stretch of the Coombes Brook as it passes through the nature reserve. They were collected using the ‘kick-sampling’ method, where the substrate is disturbed up stream of a hand net which collects any small invertebrates and everything else flowing down stream. The content of the net was spread out on a tray and any invertebrates carefully collected.

In the makeshift laboratory the collected samples were analysed and compared to known samples, paying close attention to the features that distinguish one family from another. The invertebrate larvae we hoped to identify were Mayflies Ephemeroptera, Stoneflies Plecoptera, Caddisflies Trichoptera and True flies Diptera.

Section of Coombes brook where Kick-sampling took place

Freshwater invertebrates are a good indicator of water quality, usually determined based on the species present and their levels. For example an abundance of Stonefly and Mayfly larvae suggests good oxygen levels and low levels of pollution.

The study of freshwater invertebrates can be very useful in ecological surveys, as they provide an indication of water quality and potential presence of amphibians.

Karl will be returning to Coombes Valley Nature Reserve to observe the larvae through their development.

For more information about the reserve or volunteering with the RSPB, details can be found on the Coombes Valley Nature Reserve Webpage.

Great crested newt pond scoping surveys in Cronton, Merseyside.

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Our surveyors have visited a site to assess the ponds prior to carrying out great crested newt surveys in Cronton Merseyside. The ponds look good but we definitely picked the wrong day to do it… its FREEZING!! and very windy.
Warm cup of coffee on our return was most welcome.

Its the great crested newt survey season and they’re back in the ponds making egg folds already !!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Our great crested newt survey season has started and we have already had positive results in the ponds that we are monitoring and in ponds that we are surveying for the first time.

A number of the ponds which we survey as part of our annual monitoring cycle have a number of great crested newt egg folds present, mainly on water forget me nots and willow-herb. This is relatively early in the great crested newt breeding season and it is possible that newts have been active early this year due to the mild winter.

Male great crested newt

Male great crested newt

It is particularly encouraging to find good numbers of great crested newts in ponds which we have actively managed over the last couple of years. The removal of willow trees which have encroached the ponds and the opening up of the pond banks are simple measures which have produced good results.

Female great crested newt

Female great crested newt

It will be interesting to see how great crested newt activity progresses in the ponds as the season goes on, and we hope to see an increase in the maximum numbers of great crested newts in the ponds and also an increase in amphibian activity in general.


Great crested newt pond scoping survey in Lower Peover, Cheshire

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Great crested newt larvae

UES were commissioned in June 2011 to conduct a great crested newt pond scoping survey to assess potential presence of great crested newts within 250m of the development footprint.

Development works within 250m of a great crested newt pond are often subject to a Natural England European Protected Species Licence (EPSL). It is stressed by Natural England to try and redesign a project to remove any potential impacts on great crested newt populations and associated habitats in order to remove the need for licensing.

The field methods used to survey ponds are:

  1. Bottle trapping
  2. Egg search
  3. Torch surveys
  4. Netting

Natural England recommend using at least three of the methods outlined above when conducting a pond survey. Smooth newts and great crested newt eggs and larvae were found in ponds within 250m of the development.

UES proposed that by designing the project timings and working methods to avoid impacts, any potential impacts on local great crested newt populations and habitats could be effectively removed, or reduced to a negligible level thereby removing the need for protected species licensing.

Extended phase 1 survey in Connahs Quay, Deeside

Monday, August 15th, 2011

UES have completed an extended phase 1 habitat survey of a site in Deeside, North Wales in order to inform the client of any potential impacts their development would have on habitats and species.

Semi-improved neutral grassland

The site was defined as semi-improved neutral grassland. The species composition and pattern of growth reflect an unmanaged and ungrazed grassland dominated by course-leaved tussock grasses notably False oat-grass, Cocks foot and Yorkshire fog.

As part of the extended phase 1 habitat survey, specific observations of wildlife were also recorded. Wildlife observations focus on protected species, invasive species or species of conservation interest. Numerous species of birds were recorded during the survey which could have been breeding on or local to site.

In terms of the surrounding area the development of the site in Connahs Quay presents only a minor loss of habitat quality. UES suggested that landscaping should aim to promote species diversity by the appropriate design of habitats and habitats mosaics which promotes natural linkages and hence dispersal of target species. Suggested ideas that may be beneficial to wildlife include, planting of berry and nut bearing shrub species when landscaping, use of nectar bearing flowers, creating a wildflower garden, creating bird feeding stations and the hanging bat and bird boxes on site.

Extended phase 1 habitat survey for Seddon Homes in Lancashire

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

UES have completed an extended phase 1 habitat survey of a site in Lancashire in order to inform the client of any potential impacts their development would have on habitats and species.

A phase 1 habitat survey is a standard method of environmental audit. It involves categorising different habitat types and habitat features within a survey area. The information gained from the survey can be used to determine the ecological value of the site, and to direct any more specific survey work which may need to be carried out prior to the start of work, such as badger surveys, barn owl surveys, bat surveys, great crested newt surveys, dormouse surveys, water vole surveys, breeding bird surveys, hedgerow surveys and tree surveys.

Male Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus)

Seddon Homes applied for planning permission for a new build housing scheme which was subject to a ‘Code for Sustainable Homes’ (CSH) assessment. The aim of the Code for Sustainable Homes is to encourage development on land that has a limited value to wildlife, and discourage the use of previously undeveloped land.

The site was surveyed and all species on site recorded. The development site was deemed to be of moderate ecological value due to the neutral grassland with associated mature trees and species-rich countryside hedgerows. Numerous species of birds were also recorded during the survey which could have been breeding on or local to site. Further surveys for great crested newts (GCN) were conducted due to a pond on site being identified as suitable for amphibians. Palmate newts were found on site.

It was decided that enhancement measures were required in order to secure an ecological benefit at site level and achieve the maximum number of CSH ecological credits. The client welcomed the suggestion of incorporating bat and bird boxes into the design of the new buildings, which could provide a real benefit to local bat and bird populations.

Great crested newt monitoring at Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

It’s the fourth year that United Environmental Services have monitored the ponds in Kings Cliffe following a major trapping and relocation scheme. So far this year a good number of adult great crested newts and developing great crested newt larvae have been caught in bottle traps  and pond nets and recorded whilst torching. A healthy population of other amphibians including Smooth and Palmate newts have also been recorded on the site, as well as reptile species such as slow worm and grass snake.

UES caught a particularly large female great crested newt, which was heavily pregnant whilst bottle trapping. Courtship and egg-laying normally lasts from mid-March to mid-May. Female great crested newts lay eggs individually on leaves of submerged vegetation, which she then carefully folds up into a package. After about 3 weeks the great crested newt larvae hatch out and spend the next 2 to 3 months developing into juveniles, whilst feeding on a wide variety of pond life including small crustaceans and other newt larvae.

On the hunt for orchids

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

There are 56 species of wild orchid in Britain and Ireland (out of around 25,000 known species worldwide). In the UK wild orchids can be found in a variety of natural habitats including woodland, grassland, marshes, heaths and sand dunes, as well as in managed sites such as abandoned pits and roadside verges. Each orchid species has its own blooming season, which can run from as early as April in the case of the Early-purple orchid to as late as September for the Autumn ladies tresses.

The main threats to wild orchids in the UK are habitat change and destruction. In Britain, orchids are protected by the Wildlife And Countryside Act, 1981, which states that it is an offence to uproot them unless you have permission from the land owner.

UES spotted these wild orchids whilst completing ecological surveys in Cheshire, Liverpool, and Hampshire.

Great Crested Newt Surveys Derbyshire and the Peak District national Park

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Great Crested Newt Surveys Derbyshire and the Peak District national Park

Great crested newt surveys can be carried out in Derbyshire and the Peak District national Park during spring and early summer. Pond surveys for great crested newts are undertaken at a time of year when the great crested newt population returns to the pond to breed. Great crested newt pond surveys have to be carried out to strict guidelines and so the people undertaking them must be properly trained, licensed and experienced to carry out great crested newt pond surveys. Derbyshire and the Peak District national Park has many ponds and wet areas which are suitable for great crested newts. Any action which has the potential to disturb great crested newts or their habitats must be preceded by great crested newt surveys of the pond or area, to ensure that no great crested newts are disturbed. United Environmental Services have experienced and appropriately licensed staff that can carry out great crested newt surveys in Derbyshire and the Peak District national Park. At times of year when great crested newts are not in the ponds, other survey methods can be employed. The main technique used is the habitat suitability index which is an accepted method of assessing a habitat for its suitability for use by great crested newts.

United Environmental Services carry out surveys across Derbyshire. The surveys which are carried out in Derbyshire include great crested newt surveys, bat surveys, Phase 1 habitat surveys, breeding bird surveys, water vole surveys and a full range of environmental surveys. United Environmental Services also offer landscape design and garden design services in Derbyshire and can provide the materials and implementation work if required. We have a team of experienced surveyors, landscape architects and ground workers who work to a high standard across Derbyshire.