Barn Owl Surveys

Barn Owl Surveys

Barn Owl surveys are required for a number of reasons. You may have been asked by a local planning authority, architect, tree surgeon, or county ecologist. Barn Owls, their eggs and young are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) in response to an estimated 70% decline since the 1930s.

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BARN OWL SURVEYS AND MITIGATION EXPERTS.

Our specialist Barn Owl ornithologist has over 30 years’ experience in designing and implementing Barn Owl surveys and enhancement strategies with a 100% success for our clients.

Almost all wild birds are protected, yet the Barn Owl has additional protection against disturbance whilst at or near its nest (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981). A survey that includes a visit to a probable breeding site during the breeding season should only be carried out by a licence holder.

The normal breeding season is March to August, although Barn Owls in Britain have been recorded nesting in every month of the year.

So, whether you are looking for domestic barn owl surveys to support a planning application or you’re a development company requiring full ecological consultancy and barn owl services, we are here to help.

our guide to barn owl surveys
   
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DID YOU KNOW?

  • A wild Barn Owl eats around 1,460 meals per year

  • Barn Owls have lop-sided ears! One is higher than the other

  • Barn Owl feathers are super soft but they are not very waterproof

  • Barn Owls are found on every continent except Antarctica.

  • Barn Owls can have up to three brood per summer

BARN OWL SURVEYS CALENDAR

Roost Assessments

Breeding Surveys

nesting bird surveys

Barn Owl Surveys Key

bat roost assessments

Roost Assessments

From just £348

Preliminary roost assessments or scoping barn owl surveys are the initial phases of any barn owl survey process. An experienced member of our team will undertake an initial site visit during daylight hours. Unlike breeding barn owl surveys, Roost assessments can be undertaken all year round.

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bat surveys

Barn Owl Surveys

From just £698

Should evidence or potential for barn owls be identified via the preliminary roost assessment, further barn owl survey effort may be required, commonly known as breeding owl surveys also known as breeding barn owl surveys. Activitybarn owl surveys are undertaken between March & September.

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bat mitigation

Bird Mitigation & Strategy 

Should evidence show that barn owls are identified via activity barn owl surveys, then a final step of mitigation and/or reasonable avoidance measures will be required. Working with your ecology consultant you will design a strategy that will ensure the protection of the barn owls.

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Chase Ecology is an independent specialist ecology consultancy for both domestic and commercial clients across a range of sectors throughout the UK. Over the years, we have build up fantastic relationships with local planning authorities for a fast and efficient process, meaning we’re always happy to consult with your local county ecologist or planning officer and statutory agencies for a quick and successful planning application. Our speedy, honest, reliable, and common sense approach means we’ve become of the UK’s leading protected species experts. Our personal approach means we are here to help with any advice with a simple phone call.

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BARN OWL SURVEYS

So, you have put in your planning application or you’re removing native trees or hedgerow, maybe you’re taking away a grass meadow or converting a barn. The local planning authority or your architect has stated barn owl surveys are required. You probably have a few questions.

All nesting birds are protected by law, under the Habitats Regulations 2010. No matter what the species! The regulation means that it is an offense to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct a birds nest. However, barn owls have further protection against disturbance whilst at or near its nest.

To help you understand why you’ve been asked to undertake barn owl surveys and why they are important, we’ve put together what is probably the most comprehensive guide to barn owl surveys available online. We hope this guide answers everything there is to know about barn owl surveys.

THE BARN OWL SURVEYS PROCESS

The most common question we get asked about barn surveys is what is the process, What do we need to do? and when can those steps be taken? Below we’ve put together a short highlight, which we expand on later in the guide, on the steps that potentially need to be taken during the barn owl survey process.

Preliminary roost assessments involve an initial inspection of habitat and/or structures to identify the potential for a barn owl and other species.

As well as an assessment of the building and surrounding habitat to support barn owls, a phase 1 barn owl survey may require a data records search. Meaning, records such as known barn owl populations, previous mitigation sites, and the location of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserves (LNR) are obtained. These desk-based assessments are a requirement and are usually purchased from third party biological records centres or county councils.

These surveys can be undertaken year-round.

If a habitat, such as a barn, building, hedgerow, or grass meadow shows potential for barn owls on a development site, our fully licensed ornithologists will undertake presence and nesting barn owl surveys.

Presences or nesting barn owl surveys will need to be undertaken between March and September.

Should evidence show that barn owls are identified via presence or breeding barn owl surveys, then a final step of mitigation and/or reasonable avoidance measures will be required.

The majority of the time we are able to work under reasonable avoidance measures when it comes to barn owl surveys. This may mean altering dates to when birds are no longer nesting in a barn for example. However, from time to time mitigation may be required.

WHY DO I NEED A BARN OWL SURVEY?

Well, it’s not uncommon especially if you are demolishing or converting a building, cutting down a tree, hedge cutting, or disrupting a habitat that may contain barn owls or feeding grounds.

All barn owls are protected by law, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. No matter what the species! The regulation means that it is an offense to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct a barn owl nest, resting place, or feeding habitat.

If a habitat shows potential for barn owls on a development site, our fully licensed ornithologists will be able to advise on the best barn owl survey solutions.

At this point, we’d like to give you some good news. Barn owls almost never stop your development.

But what is the barn owl survey and mitigation process? Firstly, the need for barn owl surveys will generally be identified at the time of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal also know as a Habitat Walkover or Phase 1 Survey.

If the potential for barn owl is shown, then the presence of barn owl surveys may need to be completed. These barn owl surveys need to show whether nesting birds are present in the area, what populations are like, and how they use the site and surrounding areas.

If protected species are detected, then a mitigation plan is designed to show how you’ll avoid, reduce, or manage any negative effects on them. Working with your ecologist you need to decide which methods are right for the project you’re working on.

A mitigation licence may be required. However, usually, we are able to work to a Reasonable Avoidance Measure (RAM) to keep the process cost-effective and quick.

WILL I NEED TO CARRY OUT A BARN OWL SURVEY?

Most likely. Especially if your development is within 500m of woodland or habitat which may be affected. You may also need a barn owl survey if you are converting a barn or stable block for example.

If your plans are to carry out development works that could disrupt or harm barn owls or their habitats or if your local planning authority has asked for an ecology barn owl survey then you will need to carry out a protected species survey.

Typically demolition of a building, tree/hedge cutting, house extensions, and change of land use all require barn owl surveys and potential mitigation.

DECIDING IF YOU NEED BARN OWL SURVEYS

Nesting Birds, no matter the species, and other protected wildlife can be affected by lots of construction work including:

  • demolition of buildings
  • extensions that affect land usage or are close to trees/hedges
  • wind turbines
  • barn conversions
  • removal of trees or hedgerows
  • removal or change of land use, such as meadow to grazing
  • building or maintenance of roads

You’re more likely to need nesting birds surveys if the land has favourable features such as:

  • a watercourse or body within 500 meters that wading birds may use to ground nest
  • is close to woodland
  • has hedgerows and trees
  • has unmanaged grass

You’re likely to need a nesting bird survey for land-use change if it:

  • is in ancient woodland
  • is large with good growth
  • has mossy areas
  • has unmanaged grass
  • has hedgerows or trees
  • is close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Local nature reserve.

I THINK WE NEED BARN OWL SURVEYS

If your planning or development has any of the above bullet points ticked then, YES! you need barn owl surveys.

So what actually happens during the barn owl survey process?

Well, it’s fairly simple. Barn Owls will almost never stop your development.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A BARN OWL SURVEY

So, now you’ve established why you need a survey, you maybe be wondering what happens during the barn owl survey process.

The barn owl survey process is simple. It generally starts with a preliminary habitat assessment and if evidence or potential of barn owls, we can determine the types of survey that would suit the development best for Phase 2. These may include:

  • Habitat suitability index (HSI) assessments
  • Presence/absence surveys

However, if your site holds a confirmed barn owl population then the third phase of mitigation and licensing may be required. In most circumstances, we are able to implement Reasonable Avoidance Measures, also knows as RAMS, instead of having to go through the full mitigation process.

If your local planning authority has asked for a barn owl survey then you will need to contact a licensed ecologist.

Typically, after a phone or email consultation, the ecologist will then require a visit to your site to undertake a Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessment.

PRELIMINARY HABITAT & ROOST ASSESSMENTS

For most planning permission applications or development projects involving nesting birds or other protected, it is appropriate to start with a Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessment also known as a Walkover Survey.

Preliminary habitat assessments involve an initial inspection of a structure and habitat to identify the potential for barn owls and other species.

As well as an assessment of the building and surrounding habitat to support barn owls, a phase 1 barn owl survey may require a data records search. Meaning, records such as known barn owl populations, previous mitigation sites, and the location of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserves (LNR) are obtained. These desk-based assessments are a requirement and are usually purchased from third party biological records centres or county councils.

If the habitat itself does not show evidence or potential for barn owls then this information can sometimes be enough to provide an assessment of whether they are likely to be present on-site and whether they are likely to be impacted upon by the development.

After the data is collected your ecologist will compile a detailed report outlining any further steps, if any, that may be required.

ACTIVITY BARN OWL SURVEYS

Should evidence or potential for barn owls be identified then further barn owl survey effort may be required. This next stage is known as the presence of nesting barn owl surveys also known as activity or population surveys.

Unlike preliminary habitat assessments, which can be carried out year-round, presence barn owl surveys will need to be undertaken between March and September.

MITIGATION, COMPENSATION, AND STRATEGY FOR BARN OWLS

Should evidence show that nesting birds are identified via presence surveys, then a final step of mitigation and/or reasonable avoidance measures will be required.

Working with your ecology consultant you will design a mitigation plan. This may involve applying to Natural England for a protected species licence.

However, you will need planning permission to have been granted prior to applying for this licence.

For the licence to be granted, a mitigation strategy will be required that could involve timings of works, installation of mitigation strategies.

The mitigation plan will address the potential impacts on nesting birds and other protected species and must avoid negative effects on bird populations, such as small alternations to project designs or delayed work which may expose the habitat.

If this is not possible, the use of alternative mitigation measures to reduce the impacts must be implemented.

Mitigation and compensation methods can include:

  1. Changing work methods or timing to avoid breeding periods. For example, work to be complete during winter on summer roosts.
  2. Creating new habitats within the same or on neighbouring site
  3. Improving or creating habitats. Such as new foraging areas or pond
  4. Long term management of habitats
  5. Nesting bird population monitoring after the development

Usually, reasonable avoidance measures are sufficient for the majority of UK nesting birds.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER BARN OWL MITIGATION IS GRANTED?

As highlighted above, the majority of the time we are able to work under reasonable avoidance measures when it comes to barn owl surveys. This may mean altering dates to when birds are no longer nesting in a barn for example. However, from time to time mitigation may be required. But what happens after the barn owl mitigation licence is granted?

The ecologist, architect, construction company, and yourself will decide on a date whereby work will be started. The ecology consultant will take one or both of two main steps:

  1. Implement any compensation measures for barn owls before works are undertaken.
  2. And/or – Be on-site to undertake ecological clerk of works measures during a soft break of any areas where any species are identified.

Once any barn owls are ‘mitigated’ into the new habitat, works can continue as normal.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE FIND BARN OWLS AFTER WORK HAS STARTED?

Stop all work immediately.

Continuing work is likely to be breaking the law if barn owls are found during building works.

Get in touch with your ecologist who will advise you on the next steps.

HOW MUCH DOES A BARN OWL SURVEY COST?

Well, it’s hard to accurately say as it varies greatly. There are many factors to take into account.

Phase 1 preliminary habitat assessments and barn owls surveys range from £348. Fees depend on the location of the development, and size or complexity of the site.