Posts Tagged ‘extended phase 1 habitat survey’

Lunar Hornet Clearwing Moth found on a survey in Manchester City Centre

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

The Lunar Hornet Clearwing Sesia bembeciformis, is a more common relative of the Hornet Clearwing Sesia apiformis, both species are in fact moths. They imitate hornets in appearance, flight and they even emit a buzzing sound when flying.

Hornet moths are a fantastic example of what is known as ‘Batesian mimicry’ where harmless species have evolved to imitate more harmful or distasteful species. The idea being that predators are likely to avoid the harmless moth based on a previous unpleasant experience with a hornet or other similar species.

The caterpillars are most often found in willow trunks and can remain in the larval stage for up to two years before emerging as a moth. This photo was taken in Manchester City Centre.

 

UK BAP species – Pasque flower

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris) are a nationally scarce plant and are a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. There is a legend that pasque flowers spring from the blood of Romans or Danes, as they typically occur on old earthworks such as barrows and boundary banks. However it is more likely this association reflects the plant’s need for undisturbed chalk/limestone grassland, which has survived in these places as they have always been too steep to plough.

UES were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this rare plant whilst visiting Barnack Hills and Holes SSSI & NNR, Cambridgeshire in April. Pasque flowers bloom around Easter, hence the name “Pasque”, meaning “like Paschal”, “of Easter”.

Barnack Hills and Holes is an area of limestone grassland which has developed on the site of disused quarry workings. The limestone was originally formed in Jurassic times from the remains of billions of tiny sea-creatures, which lived in a warm shallow sea that covered this area 150 million years ago.

Over 300 kinds of wild plant have been found on the Hills and Holes, including eight species of orchids, rockrose, wild thyme, quaking grass, ox-eye daisy, clustered bellflower, carline thistle, and autumn gentian.

See Natural England’s website for further information on Barnack Hills and Holes SSSI & NNR.

Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey & Code for Sustainable Homes in Wirral, Merseyside

Monday, January 9th, 2012

UES have recently been commissioned to complete Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys and Code for Sustainable Homes: Category 9 (Ecology) assessments for 7 sites in Wirral, Merseyside for Wirral Partnership Homes.

Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) is the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. The Code aims to reduce our carbon emissions and create homes that are more sustainable. The Code measures the sustainability of a new home against nine categories:

  1. Energy and carbon dioxide
  2. Water
  3. Materials
  4. Surface water runoff
  5. Waste
  6. Pollution
  7. Health and well-being
  8. Management
  9. Ecology

A total of 9 credits are available in Category 9 (Ecology), representing 12% of the points contribution in total. The approximate weighted value of each ecological credit is 1.33, second only to that of Category 2 (Water) at 1.50. The aim of Category 9 is to:

  • promote development on land that already has a limited value to wildlife, and discourage the development of ecologically valuable sites.
  • enhance the ecological value of a site.
  • promote the protection of existing ecological features from substantial damage during the clearing of the site and the completion of construction works.
  • minimise reductions and promote an improvement in ecological value.
  • promote the most efficient use of a building’s footprint by ensuring that land and material use is optimised across the development.

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.

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.