GCN Mitigation in North Lincolnshire

This summer, Scarborough Nixon Associates Ltd have been involved in a great crested newt Triturus cristatus mitigation project on a site in North Lincolnshire, in order to remove the newts from a development site.

Previous surveys conducted by Scarborough Nixon Associates Ltd found that a medium-sized population of great crested newts are present within a pond adjacent to the development site, and that the development site provided terrestrial grassland habitat for this species. The great crested newts needed to be removed from the grassland before the start of development on site, so to do this, newt exclusion fencing was been put up around the site, and pitfall traps and refuge areas were installed along the fenceline.

Just after the halfway point of trapping, 81 great crested newts, 28 smooth newts Lissotriton vulgaris, 5 common frogs Rana temporaria and 184 common toads Bufo bufo have been found so far. They have all been relocated to amphibian refugia in the receptor area, next to the pond. With up to another 25 days of trapping to go, it’s likely that these numbers will keep on rising!

Newt surveys

The sun is shining, the weather is getting warmer and Scarborough Nixon Associates Ltd’s licenced surveyors have started the seasons great crested newt evening surveys.

Great crested newt surveys are undertaken in spring when the animals are in their aquatic habitat. Surveys to establish presence/absence must be undertaken between March and June, therefore forward planning is essential to prevent costly delays. Scarborough Nixon Associates Ltd undertake pond and water body assessments as part of any ecological appraisal and can advise on the likely requirement for great crested newt surveys.

Contact us today to discuss your project.

’tis the season…

…for bat hibernation checks!

The bat activity survey season may be finished for the year, but the team at Scarborough Nixon Associates Ltd will be carrying out hibernation surveys for bats throughout December, January and February.

Sites to be surveyed include Tattershall Carrs, a Woodland Trust site, recently seen on BBC Countryfile! Over the last couple of years, Ian Nixon has led a project to transform some of the Stanton shelters and remaining wartime structures within the woodland to provide winter roosting features for bats. The features include bat boxes and the specially designed Lincolnshire Bat Brick. These features have now been in place for 18 months, and hibernation surveys in winter 2015/2016 showed that the structures were being used by small numbers of bats, including brown long-eared and Natterer’s. This winter, further hibernation surveys will take place to monitor the population of hibernating bats within the woodland, and all data will be submitted to Bat Conservation Trust as part of the National Bat Monitoring Programme.

The photo’s show Ian with the Countryfile team filming in the bunkers.

Water vole update

In January 2016, a class licence (CL31) was introduced to “intentionally damage or destroy water vole burrows and to disturb by displacing water voles occupying burrows before carrying out lawful development works”. Scarborough Nixon Associates Ltd are pleased to announce that they have completed the licensing process with Natural England and are registered to use the class licence to carry out water vole displacement work.

Scarborough Nixon Associates Ltd offer water vole surveys both as part of our general walkover surveys and ecological assessments and also as focused species specific surveys, for a range of clients including private developers, internal drainage boards and The Environment Agency. All our survey work and water vole displacement work is undertaken by experienced ecologists in accordance with the latest industry guidelines, published in The Water Vole Mitigation Handbook (Dean et al. 2016).

Pale badger captured on camera

A trail camera was placed close to the entrance hole of a main badger sett that has been routinely monitored by SNA over the last two years. The camera was left recording the activity around the sett for four nights, and the pictures captured revealed one inhabitant to be slightly more unusual than the others – a pale Leucistic badger!

The team also carried out a bait marking experiment to learn more about the badger social groups in the monitored sett and two closely neighbouring setts. These experiments work by encouraging badger social groups to eat indigestible coloured pellets, which are then voided into communal latrines. Badgers are highly territorial animals, and latrines often mark territory boundaries. In this way, the original location of the bait and the final location of the pellets within a latrine can be used to define the territories of the badger social groups present.

The results indicated that there may be two badger social groups using the site. A large latrine site had dung that contained red pellets and dung that contained yellow pellets found right next to each other, indicating that this is an important boundary between two social groups. A badger latrine was found with both yellow and blue pellets whilst another had both red and blue pellets. This may indicate that badgers from different setts are foraging in the same areas further from their setts.

As well as the badgers we also recorded fox and muntjac investigating the bait.

Conservation restoration on a grand scale

Scarborough Nixon Associates Ltd were involved in the restoration of a large pond on Grimsthorpe Estate near Bourne this autumn, where great crested newts are known to reside.

The pond had become choked with bulrush and was in danger of silting up completely, so the plan was to remove approximately 12,000m3 of material and restore the pond to its’ former glory.

All the bank-side areas to be impacted by the work had to be carefully searched before the vegetation could be cut back to allow access for the heavy machinery – including an amphibious excavator!

During the hand-searching several great crested newts Triturus cristatus were found and relocated to a designated receptor area, along with some smooth newts Lissotriton vulgaris and toads Bufo bufo.

Hartsholme Bats

Bat surveys were carried out along a length of footpath at Hartsholme Country Park on behalf of Lincoln City Council. A transect survey showed that six different species of bat are commuting and foraging around the footpath and the adjacent areas of wet woodland and open water. The species recorded on site were common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, brown long-eared, Daubenton’s, barbastelle and noctule.

Botanical surveys were also carried out, yielding many notable woodland species including broad buckler-fern, male-fern, lady-fern, common dog-violet, common figwort, enchanter’s nightshade, greater stitchwort, lesser stitchwort, skullcap, three-nerved sandwort, wild strawberry and wood false-brome.