Winter Newsletter 2017-2018

Another busy year at Norfolk Wildlife Services, with survey work across Norfolk for a huge variety of projects. Read highlights about how we helped our clients, the wildlife we have seen in our most recent winter newsletter in download here!

Alternatively you can select individual articles from this newsletter below!

Winter 2017/2018 newsletter

Click here to download our winter 2017/2018 newsletter

This issue:


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We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter.

Keep in touch with us if you need advice or protected species surveys undertaking for the spring ahead. You can contact us here.




Update: Great Crested Newt licencing and mitigation review

Natural England is reviewing its approach to great crested newt licencing and mitigation approach, which will be introduced across the country. In each county, the approach will begin with a study to identify where newts are, and then create a map of the potential impacts of development to form appropriate conservation strategies in partnership with local government bodies. In the meantime, the existing methods of great crested newt mitigation for development projects withstand and there are no plans to abolish the laws protecting this species.

Great Crested Newt on hand

Read more about it in our previous newsletter article

If you want advice about how these changes might affect your company please contact us.


Suction solution for no-cut root route

In June 2017, Anglian Water began work on a pipeline renewal scheme at Belstead Water Tower, Ipswich. Trenching 1.2m deep by 0.5m wide was required to allow pipe-laying, but the only route out of the compound was in the Root Protection Area (RPA) of large oak, an important group of TPO trees.

Norfolk Wildlife Services worked with Anglian Water and Conroys to create an Arboricultural Method Statement [AMS].   An innovative solution  practical  technology –  a suction excavator [Conroy Vac Ex] – to prevent need to cut roots with ground protection techniques to protect tree roots of the protected trees from vehicle damage.

The suction excavator removes the soil around the roots, eliminating the need to cut through them in order to create the trench.  Major roots were left intact which means the trees ability to take up water and nutrients was not compromised.  Exposed roots were wrapped with wet hessian to prevent desiccation.  The pipe was then laid underneath the routes and the trench was then backfilled with the original soil, minimising disruption to the trees’ water supply in a period of dry weather.

Ground protection techniques help prevent compaction of the soil around the tree roots


Work begins on suction excavation of trench around tree roots using Conroy Vac Ex

Work with Conroy Vac Ex suction excavator continues on open trench and tree roots


Wet hessian bags were wrapped around the roots to avoid desiccation.


Pipe laying commences




Staff receive further certification

Every member of our ecology team now holds Construction Skills Certification, which cements our position as having the required training and qualifications to work safely as ecologists and arboriculturalists on construction sites.

The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) is the national skills certification scheme for the UK construction industry. It covers skills such as health and safety legislation and hazard recognition.

It follows our accreditations by the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment and Constructionline in 2016 and 2017.


Into The Woods: Low impact glamping at Moat Island

The site when developed will have 19 ‘glamping’ pitches as well as a communal kitchen area set within a woodland setting around a medieval moat which inspired the name ‘Moat Island Glamping’

The future Moat Island Glamping site

For the client, the sylvan setting of the trees were at the heart of the project as part of the core character of the site. For them connecting the ‘glampers’ with nature while conserving and enhancing that environment was key to success.

Working with the landscape architect Barnaby Baker and site manager Lewis Ennals, Jim, our arboriculturist gave both technical advice and inspiration as to what low impact glamping looked like. Essential when designing and constructing pitches amongst the surrounding trees and woodland. Accurate plotting of potential constraints using CAD software achieved a precise and technical solution.

New planting areas will provide both screening and wildlife interest and are all native species. Careful coppice rotation will also be introduced to provide a distinctive structure to the woodland and to allow an ever varied change in light levels, fully integrating the site into the woods.


Licencing Spotlight: Water voles

Water voles, their breeding sites and resting places are fully protected by law under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it a criminal offence to injure, damage or disturb them. They like soft-shored banks for burrowing, wide swathes of soft vegetation growing from the banks and water and slow-flowing and relatively deep water courses.


Water vole: Photo courtesy of Ann Roberts

Surveys of a development site for water voles are required if either:

  • Known local distribution and historical records suggest their presence
  • There is suitable habitat for water voles in or adjacent to it.

After these surveys we assess the impacts a development would have on water voles without mitigation measures . This can be used to support any relevant planning application or discussions with the drainage board or Environment Agency.

In most cases, you could avoid harming water voles by adjusting your planned work. If you can’t  and will damage their habitats, you may need a licence from Natural England. Some displacement activity can be done under a class licence by a registered person; other activities will require a site-specific licence.

A licence will be required if development would need to displace water voles or if trapping and translocation is necessary. Any licence application needs to show an overall net conservation benefit for the water voles. For example, increasing the amount of habitat available to water vole population and/or improving the quality of habitat.

We can advise you on delivering water vole mitigation and licencing and anything else water vole related, please contact the NWS team:

Invertebrate survey successes for Cley Marshes

coastal lagoon

Ben Christie sampling lagoonal invertebrates


Our follow-up survey on Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s new marsh at Cley has found five invertebrate species of conservation importance, including lagoon sand shrimp Gammarus insensibilis (legally protected) and mud snail Ecrobia ventrosa.

The Trust commissioned a specialist baseline study on their new land at Cley Marshes when they purchased it in 2014. This was surveying the plants and invertebrates in the site’s ditches, dykes and scrapes.

Since then, the Trust has carried out extensive work on the marsh to convert it from wildfowling ponds to a nature reserve and wanted to repeat the surveys. The plan was to compare with the 2014 baseline and identify any changes resulting from the work.

Twelve sample ditches and lagoons sites from the 2014 survey were re-surveyed for aquatic invertebrates, following the same methodology. For each, we took two dip-net samples to collect a crosssection of the aquatic invertebrates in the water: one in underwater vegetation near the shore; and one reaching out into the depths of the open water.

Ben Christie, our invert specialist said: “By first grouping inverts into taxonomic orders and then using specialist microscope keys for identification, we were able to efficiently identify the specialist communities for every sample site. This allowed both a direct comparison of communities in 2014 and 17, but also showed distributions for five invertebrate species of conservation importance.

“Norfolk Wildlife Trust can now fully assess the benefits of their management on invertebrates as well as the birds and other wildlife who are dependent on them in the food chain.”



Students Go Batty For Work Experience


An unusually warm autumn has meant more bats out in the evenings later in the year than normal. This provided students from East Coast College with a chance to gain bat survey experience on two different dusk surveys.

Ben Moore, Assistant Ecologist at NWS, said: “Our first site was along a stretch of the upper reaches of the river Bure surrounded by wet grassland and woodland edge. We had great views of noctules, one of our largest bats, as they foraged high in the twilight over the open grassland”.


East Coast College students gain experience by helping with bat surveys

“The students heard the characteristically slow slapping calls of the noctule, which distinguished it from most other species. Once it had become darker, we saw bats over the water, their white underbellies still visible. Coupled with distinctive rapid ‘machine gun’ like calls, this identified Daubenton’s bats using the river to feed on mosquitoes and other tasty morsels of the flying insect variety.”

“The second survey site was along a stretch of the Marriott’s way, a well-sheltered commuting and foraging route for bats with its tree-lined embankments. Here we observed common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle and used a handheld frequency detector to tell them apart as they zipped up and down the disused railway.””


Meet our new (joint) business officer – Rachael Barber

Along with my colleague Siobhan, I work with clients to identify your project’s needs and issue quotes. I also deal with our business finances and keep our electronic paperwork system in order.

Rachael showing the difference between different gulls

Rachael Barber guiding a seabird and cetacean group

After working as a marine wildlife guide at sea, I moved to Norfolk in 2008 and completed a Masters degree in Applied Ecology and Conservation.

I joined Norfolk Wildlife Services in March 2017 from my previous role as Marine Data Coordinator. I am keen to transfer my skills and knowledge to a terrestrial ecological consultancy business.


Whales and dolphins continue to be a big passion of mine and I am a partner in the marine charity the World Cetacean Alliance. I am a fully BTO qualified bird ringer, involved in monitoring projects on reed warblers and tawny owls. Winter means catching and monitoring many migrant finches including goldfinch, brambling and siskin.

I am looking forward to being in touch with you soon!

Urban wildlife : using IR cameras for badger surveys

It can be difficult to prove the presence or absence of badgers, as they are shy when near their setts. Badgers also have an extremely good sense of smell and can detect the scent of humans easily. To stand a better chance of recording them a camera can be used to reduce human scent near the sett.

We recently used our night vision trail camera to assist a client on the outskirts of Norwich who is seeking planning permission for a new build. We had identified a badger set in close proximity, which may have been home to not only badgers, but also other burrowing animals who often co-habit or move in, if the burrow has been abandoned.

The camera works on an infrared motion trigger, capturing pictures or videos of animals moving nearby. In this case there was a family of foxes and some hedgehogs, but we were able to prove there were no badgers present at the sett.

Camera catching a passing fox

camera shy squirrel