Remote techniques for counting and estimating the number of bird–wind turbine collisions at sea: a review

Since the early 1990s, marine wind farms have become a reality, with at least 13 000 offshore wind turbines currently proposed in European waters. There are public concerns that these man-made structures will have a significant negative impact on the many bird populations migrating and wintering at sea. We assess the degree of usefulness and the limitations of different remote technologies for studying bird behaviour in relation to bird–turbine collisions at offshore wind farms. Radar is one of the more powerful tools available to describe the movement of birds in three-dimensional space. Although radar cannot measure bird–turbine collisions directly, it offers the opportunity to quantify input data for collision models. Thermal Animal Detection System (TADS) is an infra red-based technology developed as a means of gathering highly specific information about actual collision rates, and also for parameterizing predictive collision models. TADS can provide information on avoidance behaviour of birds in close proximity to turbine rotor-blades, flock size and flight altitude. This review also assesses the potential of other (some as yet undeveloped) techniques for collecting information on bird flight and behaviour, both pre- and post-construction of the offshore wind farms. These include the use of ordinary video surveillance equipment, microphone systems, laser range finder, ceilometers and pressure sensors.