Category Archives: Transport

Ecological appraisal, farm accesses, Cheshire (2016)

One of the smallest projects I’ve ever advised on.  This involved a new farm building access and new car parking area in rural Cheshire.  Usually, something this minor wouldn’t attract the attention of the county ecologist, but in this case the site was in a SSSI Impact Risk Zone as it was very close to a SSSI, and just 10 metres from a Local Wildlife Site, so I was called in to provide Extended Phase 1 habitat survey and advice to the project team. Continue reading

On the railways (2015)

I spent a happy couple of days mooching along the railway line near Wigan looking for potential bat roost trees, ponds and any other features of potential nature conservation interest to support a Network Rail project.  I was accompanied by a professional railwayman at all times and was surprised to find myself completely blase as the trains thundered past at 125mph – I had thought it would be terrifying, but obviously Phil is used to providing a reassuring presence 🙂

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There were plenty of nice trees about and also great swathes of Himalayan balsam and patches of Japanese knotweed.  The area will now come into treatment for invasive species which has got to be a good thing.

eDNA sampling for great crested newts in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (2015)

A fair chunk of my business comes from friends and former colleagues and most of the time it starts with a random text message or voicemail saying, er, could you possibly go to Newcastle tomorrow, I need someone to pick newts out of buckets.  Or take water samples.  Or identify plants in January (as long as it’s not snowing, I’m game).  I tend not to worry about what I’m doing next week until it gets to at least Thursday lunchtime, as something always comes up…… and this time it was the aforementioned trip to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Continue reading

Manchester Airport bat counts (2013)

As regular readers will know, Cheshire Bat Group monitor the bat barns at Manchester Airport second runway every year, to see how the bat populations are doing.  We usually do a count of each barn three times during the summer, one per month in June, July and August.  I missed the June count this year, as I was away surveying, but thanks to getting a lift from Helen I made it to the July count.

I went to the soprano pipistrelle barn with Helen, Mike and friends – don’t ask me to explain where it is, all I can tell you is that to get there involves a convoluted trip through the lanes around the airport !

Mike promptly got out a folding chair and closed his eyes but still mysteriously managed to count 2 soprano pips out of his side of the building – must be a sixth sense for bats as I could have sworn he had gone to sleep !  On my side of the building I also saw 2 bats emerge.  Naturally, the other 189 bats came out of the other side of the building, where I couldn’t see them until they came whizzing over my head and into the trees behind…. No sign of the badger either, which is sometimes seen furkling around in the undergrowth behind the building according to regular surveyors at this barn.

Elsewhere, group members counted 13 brown long-eareds and a barn owl at the brown long-eared barn, which is about average, and I don’t know about the whiskered barn as they had already gone home by the time we had finished counting out our pipistrelles.

It’s always a nice evening out (if you remember to bring insect repellent), so do join the group and come join in !

NVC surveys for major transport infrastructure project (2013)

I can’t say much about this one as the project is confidential but I recently had the pleasure of NVC surveying a whole range of sites from neutral and calcareous semi-improved grassland to woodland and marsh.  Which was nice.  Challenging, too, as the sites were all in south-east England, an area I haven’t done any real work in since my Masters waaaaaay back in 1998.  I had numerous ‘what on earth is that plant’ moments until I relaxed and let my long-term memory take over – 99% of the time, my instincts were correct, and it was what I thought it was, but I spent a fair bit of time checking over specimens with my books just to make sure…