Olympic Park – Establishing an Ecological Legacy

Dr Peter Shepherd will be giving a short presentation to the CIRIA organised event titled “Biodiversity site tour – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park” on the 11th of September. The aim of the event is to consider the success of current maintenance and monitoring of on-site biodiversity initiatives in order to ensure long term biodiversity benefits. This is part of the on-going training and CPD events programme organised by CIRIA .

Advanced Professional Training – Habitats Directive Annex II Bat Species

Dr Peter Shepherd of BSG Ecology, along with Dr Sandie Sowler and Dr Ian Davidson-Watts, recently delivered an advanced two day training course on the ecology of the four Habitats Directive Annex II bat species resident and breeding in the UK (barbastelle, Bechstein’s, lesser horseshoe and greater horseshoe). The course was conceived by Peter in 2013 in response to queries from more experienced bat consultants about advanced-level training to help them develop their knowledge and experience base beyond that covered by existing training courses and day to day work experience.

New Faces of 2014

This year we have recruited senior and/or principal consultants into our Oxford, Monmouth, Hathersage (Derbyshire) and Newcastle upon Tyne offices and made a number of promotions.  For the past few years we have had a stable team of around 35 staff across the practice and our new recruits take us up to 42 staff, of which 37 are technical, and five are business support.  These important additions to the team expand our capability in a number of technical areas, as well as increasing the availability of senior-level support to our clients.

External Entomology Training provided by BSG Ecology

BSG Ecology has been growing its in-house and associate invertebrate advisory team over the last two years. Our team is led by Dr Jim Fairclough and we have four specialist invertebrate ecologists, and several other staff with more general invertebrate experience.

As well as providing advice to clients on planning-related issues, Jim is also a passionate trainer of ecologists and the wider public. In May 2014, Jim was at Withymead Nature Reserve, providing an insight into aquatic life, through a series of classroom and outdoor sessions.

Chittering Leisler’s bats

BSG partner Dr Peter Shepherd has been closely involved with a bat box monitoring scheme in Sherwood Forest over the last 16 years.  Since monitoring began, the species recorded have regularly included  noctule,  Leisler’s, common and  soprano  pipistrelles ,  with occasional  brown  long-eared bat  and whiskered/Brandt’s bats being recorded.

Internal Training: Bat Identification and Survey Design

Bat identification is technically challenging, and to become proficient requires considerable experience and training.  Designing and undertaking robust bat surveys goes beyond identification, however, and requires an understanding of bat biology and ecology. For example, understanding the thermoregulatory needs of male, female or juvenile bats at different times of the year will enable a good surveyor to think about the sort of roosting conditions that bats will be seeking out at a given time. As such, a knowledgeable surveyor will adapt their survey to ensure all possible roost sites are considered.

Dartford Warbler Research

BSG Ecology is currently providing technical support to MSc students under the tuition of Dr Penny Neyland and Dr Laura Roberts of Swansea University for their ornithological dissertations.

Owain Gabb, of BSG Ecology’s Swansea office, initially approached the University with ideas about studying aspects of Dartford warbler ecology and distribution on the Gower Peninsula in 2013.  Following some discussion with academic staff, the topic was put to students on the 2014 MSc Environmental Biology: Conservation and Resource Management course as a potential research area.

BCT Artificial Light and Wildlife Symposium 2014

Senior Ecologists Hannah Bilston and David Stiles attended the Artificial Light and Wildlife Symposium, organised by the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), in March 2014. A wide range of professionals came together to discuss the impacts that humans have on wildlife by the increasing use of artificial light in the night time environment; to hear the latest research on the subject and to look at ways in which the impacts of lighting can be avoided or mitigated.

Maximising occupation of bat boxes

Since 2008 Hannah Bilston, a Senior Ecologist in our Oxford office, has been monitoring bat populations in Finemere Wood, an ancient woodland in Buckinghamshire. The project was initiated by the North Bucks Bat Group (NBBG) in 2003 and formed the study site for Hannah’s MSc research into factors affecting bat box selection within Finemere Wood between 2009 and 2011. More recently, Hannah has been investigating ways to maximise occupation rates of bat boxes by maternity roosts of woodland bats.

Oxford Toad Patrol

Laura Grant from BSG Ecology’s Oxford office noted a number of toad casualties on roads when she moved to the New Hinksey area of Oxford. Last year she trawled the streets in spring on mild damp evenings to move toads, frogs and smooth newts to the breeding lake out of harm’s way.

BSG Ecology delves deeply into the new BS42020 Biodiversity – Code of Practice for Planning & Development

BS42020 was published in August 2013 and the first requests for ecology work on projects to be compliant with this new British Standard (BS) are starting to come through. BSG Ecology has long operated rigorous in-house standards for all of our work including developing and operating our own technical survey standards manual. As such the publication of a BS covering our work in relation to planning and development is very welcome. As always with anything new there is a need to review and understand the new guidance so that we can be sure we are implementing it effectively and efficiently.