With a fleet of aircraft and wide range of specialist sensors, APEM provides robust and reliable scientific data for developments such as offshore wind farms. This includes the collection of baseline data, the provision of population estimates to inform Environmental Impact Assessments and collecting pre- and post-construction data.

Bird and marine mammal surveys

sea birds at rest on a rocks overlooking the sea

Guillemot, puffin and kittiwake.

  • Bespoke aerial digital surveys specifically designed to monitor target species, including birds and marine mammals, in full safety and with no disturbance to people or wildlife, using statistically robust grid-based or transect-based designs.
  • Survey information gathered using a process in which safety is always paramount.
  • Aerial digital surveys that are not only normally cheaper than traditional boat surveys, but also provide counts unbiased by the strong attraction that many seabirds have to boats associated with fishing discards.
  • Rapid mobilisation due to controlling the whole survey process, including our own aircraft, cameras and in-house pilots, technicians and image analysts.
  • Highly geo-spatially accurate data as APEM’s specialist flight planning software plots the flight paths and the camera only operates when the target location is reached. APEM further helps guarantee sound survey data quality by only flying in suitable weather, for example avoiding high sea states and midday sun to reduce image glare.
  • Imagery collected during the day and at night at a range of resolutions from 1 cm GSD upwards using a range of custom-made specialist sensors.
  • Positive identification of species – even of small wading birds – by APEM’s full-time dedicated ornithologists.
  • Accurate and precise flight heights, directions of movement, behaviour and – where possible – age and gender.
  • A robust and reliable permanent digital record unaffected by human bias available for immediate and future analysis and statistical modelling.
  • External quality assurance provided by independent experts from the British Trust for Ornithology and SMRU Consulting, if required.
  • A full range of marine ecology surveys via our highly experienced field team.
  • Technical consultancy support, including population modelling, collision risk modelling and advice and support on meeting legislative requirements in the marine environment, including impact assessment and Habitats Regulations assessment.
  • Aerial survey view of a basking shark Basking shark
  • Aerial survey birds eye view of a beaked whale Beaked whale
  • Aerial survey of marine mammals captures fin whale and ray from above Fin whale and ray
  • Aerial survey birds eye view of pod of dolphins Pod of dolphins

Bird and marine mammal survey experience

Our survey experience includes:

  • Completing more than 1,000 offshore wildlife surveys in the UK, Europe and the USA for clients including developers and regulators.
  • On behalf of Scottish Power Renewables, gathering digital aerial survey data for East Anglia ONE, the first offshore wind farm consented for its birds and marine mammals using only aerial digital survey.
  • On behalf of the US Navy, using nadir and oblique high resolution digital imagery in combination to estimate numbers of seabirds and Pacific monk seals – a rare species – on an inaccessible island in Hawaii.
  • On behalf of Natural England, gathering high resolution digital imagery that demonstrated that the Outer Thames Estuary SPA held Europe’s highest number of wintering red-throated divers.
  • On behalf of DONG, gathering the pre-, during and post-construction survey data for the London Array offshore wind farm.
  • Delivering a high-resolution digital offshore survey covering 40,000 square kilometres , thought to be the world’s largest.

Air Operator Certificate and PART-SPO

APEM aircraft carrying out aerial survey over a wind farm

Our Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and PART-SPO registration demonstrate our commitment to operating at the highest standards of health and safety. Together they provide our clients with complete flexibility in carrying expert technicians and task specialists on board our aircraft during surveys.

We operate under our own AOC, fully authorised and audited by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to the same rigorous standards required of major airlines.

We are also the first company to successfully register to operate under the new PART-SPO regulations. PART-SPO is a major update to the way that aerial surveys are regulated, signalling both a significant tightening of requirements and a new approach by the CAA.

It covers special operations from aerial photography to aerobatics, parachuting, cloud seeding and animal herding. APEM is registered for aerial photography, surveying and calibration.

If you have any queries, please contact Dr Mark Rehfisch, head of ornithology.
Alternatively you can email us here. Or call 0161 442 8938.