24/11/2015 Last Modified: 08/11/2018
The ‘Bird Nesting Season’ is officially from February until August (Natural England) and it is recommended that vegetation works (tree or hedge cutting) or site clearance should be done outside of the nesting season. However, in reality the nesting period may start before this and extend beyond it, in some cases. The busiest time for nesting birds is from 1st March until 31st July and of course varies according to species, etc.
As contractors we must aim to avoid impact to nesting birds and infringement of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and breaching the European Habitats Directive 1992/Nesting Birds Directive.
When tree or vegetation clearance work has to be undertaken during the nesting season, a pre works survey needs to be carried out by a suitably competent person. As a general rule, it should be assumed that birds will be nesting in trees, and as contactors it is down to us to assess, record and confirm that any works carried out in the management of trees and other vegetation has not disturbed actively nesting birds.
Ground vegetation, and therefore ground nesting birds, can often be overlooked by tree workers so additional care and controls should be taken when access and egress to the work site may also cause disturbance or damage to a nesting site. This is also true for retained trees on site as the removal of adjacent trees or remedial works on a tree may lead to the established nest being abandoned, exposed to the elements or predation. This action is also a breach of the act and therefore could lead to prosecution.
In our experience most clients are sympathetic and if works need to be put on hold until nesting is over then this is usually accepted.
On larger scale developments the main client should be well aware of the requirements of the legislation and therefore should be more than sympathetic and support you as a contractor not to breach the legislation. If this is not the case you may need to review the suitability of the client!