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Spring Checklist: 10 ecological things to consider before March

Ecology, Environments, Features / 9th February 2017

by @striturf_sophie

March signals the beginning of many wildlife events, some of which determine how we manage the landscape. Whether you manage a golf course or nature reserve, make sure you are aware of the following pointers before it’s too late!

 

1. Bird breeding season begins.

Starting on 1st March right through to 31st August. This places many ecological restrictions on works you can carry out on the golf course, from scrub removal and maintenance to extensive grassland disturbance.

 

mistlethrush

Mistle thrush are amongst some of the first birds to start breeding in the year, laying eggs as early as the end of February.

 

 

2. Wintering bird season ends.

If you are planning on carrying out large scale works such as coastal protection or wetland restoration, consider the effect that may have on wintering and migratory birds now, in preparation for next year. Surveys of this type can only be conducted from September to March, so it is best to plan ahead.

 

3. Check existing nest/roost boxes.

External checks for winter damage are useful to carry out but try not to disturb too much as the structures may still have inhabitants from over the winter period.

 

 

blackbird nesting

Blackbird nest at Royal Ascot Golf Club. Whilst blackbirds are one of the most common species in the UK, they are still afforded full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 whilst breeding.

 

4. Remember ground nesting birds.

Intense grassland management works should be carried out now before birds such as skylark begin to ready themselves for the breeding season. If you don’t have time to carry out the works immediately, try and instigate some form of regular disturbance through the areas that you are planning to manage.

 

5. Common frogs will begin to awake from their winter dormancy.

Time to be more vigilant when out on the course, both on foot and when riding machinery.

 

common-frog

Common frog crossing a treacherous car park.

 

6. Great crested newts will begin to move from their over-wintering land sites to suitable breeding ponds.

Survey season runs from March until June. Be considerate of any works within 500 m of a pond as it is likely that a survey will be required to satisfy planning.

 

great-crested-newt-large

Great crested newt discovered during a survey

 

7. Reptile survey season starts from March through to October.

Although the optimal time for surveying is when they are most active from April until June. All reptile species are designated as Species of Principal Importance for the Conservation of Biodiversity in England.  So it’s important to protect them during all stages of construction and other works which may affect their habitat.

 

8. Last chance to cut hedgerows.

Early February is the ideal time to manage your hedgerows as they will now be defunct of fruits and may be lacking the A-shaped denseness that most wildlife favour. Try and cut just one side each year on a rotation if possible.

 

 

9. From March onwards, all wildlife is breeding.

Aim to halt management outside of playing surfaces where possible, you wouldn’t want to be disturbed, would you?

 

planning

Bob Taylor acting as an Ecological Clerk of Works during course renovations. ECoW’s are on hand to advise and report should any ecological issues occur.

 

 

10. STRI Group can help with all of the ecological pointers above!

Our team of CIEEM accredited ecologists are on hand to carry out EPS surveys and advise on appropriate habitat management, at all times of the year.

 

Contact Sophie Vukelic or Bob Taylor to discuss further by calling 01274 565131 or email enquiries@strigroup.com