Natural England, the UK government’s statutory nature conservation body in England, has awarded its latest Outer Thames Estuary Special Protection Area survey contract to Cumbrian company, HiDef Aerial Surveying. Two survey flights in early 2018 using HiDef’s high resolution video cameras from low emission aircraft will provide Natural England with detailed distribution maps and population estimates for wintering waterbird and seabird populations in the designated site. Of particular interest on these surveys will be the red throated diver which is key feature of conservation interest in the Outer Thames and which, like other bird and marine mammal species, can be individually identified using HiDef’s systems.
Andy Webb, HiDef’s Managing Director commented:
"We’re delighted to have been selected by Natural England through a competitive tender once again. Highly detailed moving images enable us to detect and identify all the birds in our survey data. Our video material is reviewed by professional ornithologists to ensure we record the numbers accurately.”
HiDef’s transect-based survey method yields accurate and precise estimates of bird and marine mammal numbers in an area which are trusted by both the offshore developer community and the statutory bodies.
Dr. Richard Caldow of Natural England added “We are looking forward to seeing how the new estimates of the numbers of red-throated divers and other species in the Outer Thames Estuary SPA compare with estimates from the early 2000’s based on more traditional visual survey methods and the most recent digital aerial surveys carried out in 2013. Our understanding of the size of some of our inshore wintering waterbird populations appears to be changing in the light of new digital aerial surveys such as these.”