the online meeting place for all who love our amphibians and reptiles
Home Page Live Forums Archived Forums Site Search Identify Record Donate Projects Links
Forum Home Forum Home > News > Latest News
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - NE Publish Reptile Mitigation Guidelines
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

NE Publish Reptile Mitigation Guidelines

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <1234 13>
Author
Message
GemmaJF View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Location: Essex
Status: Offline
Points: 4359
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Sep 2011 at 11:41pm
Regarding Onduline, I think it does say 'other materials with similar performance' or some such statement, I'll make a note when I read it properly. They would not mention Onduline specifically because the 'old school' consider it to be the devil.

Frankly I think it is just sour grapes because they carried round big heavy tins and rolls of roofing felt for years without realising there was a far better lighter material that out performs both time and time and time again LOL


Edited by GemmaJF - 15 Sep 2011 at 11:43pm
Back to Top
GemmaJF View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Location: Essex
Status: Offline
Points: 4359
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Sep 2011 at 11:07am
I'm finding the recommendations for number of survey visits quite difficult, taking a closer look.

Particularly as this document is aimed at consultants, a key issue is that which has been raised of stating how many visits one will need to do beforehand. I'm sure it shouldn't be all taken as rigid and cast in stone but perhaps worthy of further discussion.

Clearly there is an issue that for a presence/absence survey one will not know how many visits are required beforehand? Also the statement that presence/absence survey may be stopped once animals are detected... eer what about the species that can take longer to detect? For example my current volunteer survey, there is a sniff of adder at the site yet a strong indication of Lv being absent. So I stop now that I've detected slow-worm and grass snake? Absolutely not I'm in for the long-haul and track down those adder. I think a clear statement of how many surveys is recommended would have been possible and a lot easier to implement. Perhaps then with a weighting of months. It just seems to come across in a sort of reverse logic and I'm sure this was not the intention.


Edited by GemmaJF - 16 Sep 2011 at 11:10am
Back to Top
sussexecology View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 30 Sep 2010
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 411
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Sep 2011 at 7:22pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

I'm finding the recommendations for number of survey visits quite difficult, taking a closer look.

Particularly as this document is aimed at consultants, a key issue is that which has been raised of stating how many visits one will need to do beforehand. I'm sure it shouldn't be all taken as rigid and cast in stone but perhaps worthy of further discussion.

Clearly there is an issue that for a presence/absence survey one will not know how many visits are required beforehand? Also the statement that presence/absence survey may be stopped once animals are detected... eer what about the species that can take longer to detect? For example my current volunteer survey, there is a sniff of adder at the site yet a strong indication of Lv being absent. So I stop now that I've detected slow-worm and grass snake? Absolutely not I'm in for the long-haul and track down those adder. I think a clear statement of how many surveys is recommended would have been possible and a lot easier to implement. Perhaps then with a weighting of months. It just seems to come across in a sort of reverse logic and I'm sure this was not the intention.


Re the point on the statement of stopping once animals have been found, this is complete madness! Why would you stop once you found say 1 adult slow worm on a site without undertaking more survey work? For example, i did a survey earlier in the year and found 1 common lizard, I could have stopped there but then wouldn't have picked up 3 reptile species, 2 of them with exceptional populations.

I had a bit of time to read through the document briefly today on my way down to a reptile site and was glad to see that they have indicated that trapping of animals should not be attempted in mid-October, and that they recommend stopping trapping in mid-September.

Excellent, this is what I have been trying to get across to some people I have had to work with, who sadly don't understand that moving animals in october is highly damaging. The only point I would say about this, is that they put in under a seperate heading "additional info on trapping" rather than under "timing of trapping". Please could somebody highlight this to the authors, because otherwise it may get missed, thanks.

Regarding the number of visits, I'm also finding this difficult and it also states at the beginning that the guidelines are not a set rigid of rules, and that the calculations are a guide. Still think I will stick to a min of 10 visits because I know that this works for me as well as for clients.

And regarding Onduline, thanks for that info Gemma. I have found that it works time and time again and found a really good supplier too. Would recommend using Onduline to anybody. If anybody wants a good supplier who does them cheaply, pm me as I have a really good supplier who does discounts/bulk orders and would be happy to provide details to you.

Will update again when I have some more thoughts on the new guidelines and looking forward to more lengthy discussions.



Edited by sussexecology - 17 Sep 2011 at 7:25pm
Back to Top
Matt Smith View Drop Down
Member
Member


Joined: 01 May 2003
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 18
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Matt Smith Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Sep 2011 at 11:46pm
I have read through this document quite a few times now. It's good to have, particulalry with the guidance on survey timings and times. I like the definate "2 weeks for refugia to bed in" (I think 2 weeks is fine) and that surveys should take place over at least 30 days.   If all sides read this then it will stop requests for "a full survey to be completed by the end of March" and planning conditions along the lines of "the area might have reptiles, so keep a watching brief during development and provide a mitigation plan upfront in case you do find them".

The timings calculations are a little tricky to understand on first read, but once you have a good look at them they are ok. It will just make it harder to come up with a figure when asked on site "how long". Personally I would prefer not to have different effort for different species "that might be present on site" - it would be much easier to use the same (maximum) figure for all calcs. I can see all the pages being reproduced in every consultants report I see from now on.

I think the key thing, which no one seems to have mentioned so far, is the amount of survey effort in terms of man power. All survey requirements have been increased by a factor of between 5 and 10. For a standard survey, mats per ha go up from 10 to 100, and for site clearances from 100 to 500-100.

Think of it in terms of matting. At 100 mats per ha (100m x 100m) thats a grid of 10 by 10 mats. At 500 mats per ha thats a grid of mats at 4.5m x 4.5 spacing, at 1000 mats per ha they would be spaced every 3m x 3m. Thats a lot of refugia, both to lay out and service daily. When I saw the draft guidleines at the HWM a couple of years ago they were set at 50 mats per ha for surveys, but they are now 100. Personally I think this is excessive, I'd like to see some reasoning behind these sorts of figures.

What this does is make every job need 10x more man hours to complete - even "little" jobs are now "big" jobs. I've been timing myself on a couple of very big sites since the document came out to see how many "mats per hour" I am doing - I'd be interested to see what other people think an "experienced herp worker" can manage, particularly over 1 day.

As an "Independant Consultant", I am now looking at jobs that took 1 person a day will now need 10 people. Will we see anything but the smallest of sites going the way some GCN jobs seem to go -"Graduates - gain valuable experience surveying and catching reptiles - site clearances paid at £ 40 per day". Somehow I don't see 10x the work generating 10x the fees.

Back to Top
GemmaJF View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Location: Essex
Status: Offline
Points: 4359
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2011 at 9:55am
It does seem excessive. No site is totally uniform and for presence absence survey 25 mats laid at carefully chosen locations has always provided me with the species onsite and also an estimate of relative population size on sites large and small. Frankly on a very large site one can only hope to 'sample' the areas at best during presence/absence survey and yet a good surveyor should still have no 'surprises' when it comes to mitigation.

During a mitigation I can comfortably cover 200 mats in an 'session' (morning or afternoon weather window), so 400 in a day on my own. More than that and I need to take on extra workers. During presence/absence survey though, that will be much reduced. More stopping to record grid references (already done for a mitigation), more visual survey time put in. We have captured at very high densities of mats in the past. Frankly though it is more a case of lifting far more mats with 0 results then observing a much improved captured rate. A lot of going through the motions and it reminds me much of a job I observed where the workers where forced to work through the hottest part of the day just to cover the mats. They were of course capturing nothing at all and by the afternoon they couldn't capture what they did see because they were exhausted!

I do feel strongly though the door has been left open to contribute to these guidelines, so my own view is we should all be collecting and presenting our own data and provide evidence for better guidance.

In all we have to remember that despite the document clearly stating that only those with sufficient fieldcraft should be undertaking the work, the guidance is for all. Hence those with better fieldcraft may now find themselves jumping hoops to make up for those with very poor ability. I lost interest in contributing very early on because of talk of 20 visits for presence/absence and very high mat densities with the justification that not all surveyors are much good. Well give the work to those who are then!
Back to Top
sussexecology View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 30 Sep 2010
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 411
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2011 at 2:32pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

It does seem excessive. No site is totally uniform and for presence absence survey 25 mats laid at carefully chosen locations has always provided me with the species onsite and also an estimate of relative population size on sites large and small. Frankly on a very large site one can only hope to 'sample' the areas at best during presence/absence survey and yet a good surveyor should still have no 'surprises' when it comes to mitigation.

During a mitigation I can comfortably cover 200 mats in an 'session' (morning or afternoon weather window), so 400 in a day on my own. More than that and I need to take on extra workers. During presence/absence survey though, that will be much reduced. More stopping to record grid references (already done for a mitigation), more visual survey time put in. We have captured at very high densities of mats in the past. Frankly though it is more a case of lifting far more mats with 0 results then observing a much improved captured rate. A lot of going through the motions and it reminds me much of a job I observed where the workers where forced to work through the hottest part of the day just to cover the mats. They were of course capturing nothing at all and by the afternoon they couldn't capture what they did see because they were exhausted!

I do feel strongly though the door has been left open to contribute to these guidelines, so my own view is we should all be collecting and presenting our own data and provide evidence for better guidance.

In all we have to remember that despite the document clearly stating that only those with sufficient fieldcraft should be undertaking the work, the guidance is for all. Hence those with better fieldcraft may now find themselves jumping hoops to make up for those with very poor ability. I lost interest in contributing very early on because of talk of 20 visits for presence/absence and very high mat densities with the justification that not all surveyors are much good. Well give the work to those who are then!


Noticed that it says the doc can be used by volunteers too or in fact anybody who has an interest in reptiles.

i would say, however, that so far I've found reptiles to be present on every development site where I have predicted them to be present.  I think that fieldworkers should be judged on this as this is not pure luck, it is a judgement of their ability to assess habitats for reptiles, and undertake surveys to a sound standard.

It takes a long time to become competent in undertaking reptile surveys, and I know it took me at least 2 survey seasons under direct supervision of an experienced fieldworker to become competent. Confidence also counts too, in assessing the likelihood of reptiles being present, or assessing the quality of a habitat.

Regarding the density of mats for absence/presence surveys, I've always used a density of 25 tins and never use anything less than this. Of course, once you find reptiles present, you can always increase the number of tins/mats on the site. This at least can give you an informed decision of how reptiles are using the site. 

I don't think there is a maximum number of tins you can have on a site, as long as you don't go over-board.  For example, I know that there was a project where hundreds of tins were put out, and they only had 8 people to check them. By the time, they had got half way through the tins, the temperature was too hot to check the rest (and of course the little blitters would have warmed up and been active). So what do you here? Simple....employ more people. Or don't go over-board with the number of tins out.

Regarding the density of mats/tins for capture, yes would agree that you would need to increase the number but one point which hasn't been mentioned already in our discussion is that habitat manipulation also helps capture effort.  This would be creating islands of vegetation where animals would concentrate, providing this is done gradually and in a correct manner, it seems to work very well.

For example, I did a recent mitigation project where we put an extra 34 tins down on a very small area (75m2 to be precise) in the area we were trapping because this is where we found the reptiles on the site. We also put down more tins/mats across the rest of the site where we hadn't found reptiles yet. I think in total we had doubled the amount of tins we had used for the survey work. For the last 15 days of trapping of a 30 day trapping programme, we started doing habitat manipulaiton and creating islands where animals would concentrate across the whole site (not just the 75m2 where we had found reptiles) and straight away we started getting much more capture effort, then we had done over the previous 15 days. 

As long as you are sensible and don't do this in one large sweep, it works well. Maybe not recommended for those fieldworkers who are not very experienced, but for the rest of us, yes i would def recommend using this technique.
Back to Top
GemmaJF View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Location: Essex
Status: Offline
Points: 4359
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2011 at 8:02pm
I agree habitat manipulation is a very good technique. I keep a spreadsheet graph of capture rates during capture work and when I see a very marked reduction in capture rates (not attributed to weather, season, etc) I carryout habitat manipulation. 

We now do this 'in-house' (i.e. I wield the brush cutter) as trying to time it exactly is difficult so booking an outside contractor at the correct time can be an issue. We have at times been as late as the last week of a mitigation and at other times I've cleared some corridors much earlier. It really is a site by site technique and may vary on a particular site depending on habitat structure and capture rates.

The only warning against it is that I have had some clients jump on the idea that we should just clear the habitat then capture. It happened quite a lot actually, so I'm now very careful in mitigation proposals regarding how I present habitat manipulation. I really don't want Corvids doing all the capture work on a project! I have seen this too many times now with some very visible projects carried out by consultancies who should know better. The only possible reason is client cost and time so please those who are guilty of this note it doesn't go unnoticed!

As for experience of reptile workers, I have 30+ years in the field, 10 years in consultancy and I'm still learning. Since setting up M&G Ecology Ltd we have surveyed zero sites with no reptiles. I have also detected reptiles on the first survey visit of every presence/absence survey I have done for M&G. (and on many I detected reptiles on the day I laid the mats).

As a consultant who often works as the reptile specialist for larger consultancies, I have observed that the standard for reptile survey varies from competent to downright 'useless'. Unfortunately I have no way of judging how many sites are surveyed by the downright 'useless' and therefore sites where reptiles are simply not detected when clearly they ought to be present. All I can say is that 'useless' occurs far too often and it appears many consultancies pass reptile work to very junior members of their organisations assuming laying a few mats and checking them must be 'simple'. Of course it is simple to lay a few mats, it is not simple to know WHERE to lay them WHICH day and When to check them and HOW often. There is no recipe for this, it simply comes from experience. (An awful lot of experience and leg work in fact).

And just to add (not had such a good rant for ages) it wouldn't matter what the density of mats was for some of these 'reptile surveyors' because quite frankly if they arrive onsite at 11:30 in the morning on a cloudless Summer day, they are still going to get a big fat zero whether it is 25 mats or 2500 mats! I've seen this sort of thing many times.



Edited by GemmaJF - 18 Sep 2011 at 8:21pm
Back to Top
Chris Monk View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Apr 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 282
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chris Monk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2011 at 9:49pm
I'm afraid that I have to agree with Gemma that most consultancies give the reptile work to inexperienced staff. I was asked to comment at work on the quotations for reptile surveys as part of a contract put out for ecological surveys last year on an area of long disused railway sidings.  Because they might have needed extra work they had to detail the staff to be employed, job grade and daily rates of pay. For every one of the four consultancy bids I was given to look at the staff doing the reptile surveys was the trainee/newly appointed member of staff often with no previous employment experience between leaving college and starting the job and on the lowest rate of pay. The Ecologists/Senior/Principle/Partners were the ones doing the birds/bats/etc. I predicted no reptiles would be found despite my expectation that at least common lizard would be on the site and this year guess what - no reptiles were found. Luckily the project is just putting a cycleway through the site and 95% will be unaffected.
Had had several other instances, too frequent to give much confidence to the results of most reptile surveys.


Chris

Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group

www.derbyshirearg.co.uk

Back to Top
sussexecology View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 30 Sep 2010
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 411
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2011 at 11:07pm
you know what, i got to agree with both of you about reptiles being given to junior members of staff as I have seen this myself in other consultancies.







Edited by sussexecology - 06 Apr 2012 at 9:45pm
Back to Top
Matt Smith View Drop Down
Member
Member


Joined: 01 May 2003
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 18
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Matt Smith Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2011 at 11:52pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

During a mitigation I can comfortably cover 200 mats in an 'session' (morning or afternoon weather window), so 400 in a day on my own.


Notice the "weather window" has been amended too, from 07.00 to 18.00, with the caveat that "weather conditions must also be suitable. Personaly I'd like to see this stretcheda bit more, I have been happily capturing herps up to 19.30 this year on very hot summer days.
Independent Consultant Ecologist ¦ Berkshire County Herp Recorder
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <1234 13>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.06
Copyright ©2001-2016 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.156 seconds.