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Photo © Jon Cranfield

A new report of leech predation on amphibians

What is it?

Whilst most of the leeches you will encounter in the UK are a natural part of your ponds' ecosystem and doing no harm to other wildlife, in 2020 as well as this summer, we received unusual reports of leech predation on amphibians from a small number of quite widely spaced locations in Southern England. In each case there were reports of leeches apparently feeding on common toads (Bufo bufo) and common frogs (Rana temporaria). Affected toads had leeches attached to their eyes, throat and axillae; the frogs seem less affected on their face, but are targeted across their flanks and underside. There have also been reports of newts being affected in a similar way.

Rather puzzled by these unusual reports of leech predation, our volunteers at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight ARG (HIWARG) reported these cases via the Garden Wildlife Health (GWH) portal for their input. The wildlife vets at GWH were collaborating with the Natural History Museum who made tentative suggestions regarding the species involved based on morphological similarities; however, in order to confirm the identity of the leech species in each incident, molecular methods are required and are in progress.

To date, there are very few records, but last year HIWARG volunteers reported leech predation on amphibians across the eastern half of the Isle of Wight and they are continuing their investigations there this year. Whether this is a new occurrence, or if recent reports reflect increased awareness, is so far unknown.

How can you help?


The power of the volunteer ARG network is many eyes on the ground - boosted by all our lovely garden pond owners. So please do keep a look out, and if you spot something similar contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact the Garden Wildlife Health Project directly. If possible, take photos and contact them regarding potential submission of a fresh leech sample.

Amphibian recovery - we have had some volunteers take the toads in and carefully help restore them to full health! So there is hope, but its painstaking work!!


P costata 2021 1 HIWARG    P costata 2021 2 HIWARG     P costata 2021 4 HIWARG

The General Data Protection Regulation (2018) for ARG volunteer groups

On 25th May 2018 the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. This is not a new legislation, as it builds on the Data Protection Act 1998. Nevertheless, it represents an important challenge for volunteer groups, since there will be greater scrutiny of the way in which we manage personal information after this date. In order to support the ARGs, we have complied a new Advice Note which sets out how the GDPR applies to our volunteer groups and what we need to do to comply with the law.

You can download the advice note here: 

  pdf ARG UK (2018):  ARG UK Advice Note 9:  The General Data Protection Regulation (2018) (234 KB)

We appreciate that there is a lot of information in this document, but if you have any questions please do email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will be happy to offer advice and support. Our ARG UK Data Protection Officer is our trustee, Steve Langham. He has been exploring ways of helping the ARGs to manage their personal contact data more securely, using an online database based on the successful system already in use by Surrey ARG, which you will be able to access through a web portal. We will be sending out more information about this in the coming months.



Job Vacancy - Pembrokeshire Adder Coordinator

An exciting new opportunity has arisen as part of our conservation and outreach work for adders in South West Wales. ARG UK are seeking an experienced outreach officer to champion community engagement in Pembrokeshire, and develop a new volunteer training and participation programme ‘Adders are Amazing’. You will work closely with Pembrokeshire County Council, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, National Trust, local partners and communities to involve and enthuse the public in adder conservation. You will need to enjoy working with people, have excellent communication and organisation skills and experience of working with volunteers.

Amphibian and Reptile Groups of UK (ARG UK) is a registered charity (number 1165504) committed to the conservation of native amphibians and reptiles and their natural environment by supporting the development of a network of independent volunteer amphibian and reptile groups (ARGs).

Interviews will be held by skype in the w/c 26th February. 

Closing date for applications is Tuesday 20th February.

About the job

This is a 60% (3 days per week) role in the first instance.

The reward package is based around a salary of £23,000 - £26,000 pa pro rata plus contributions to a group personal pension scheme and other benefits, including 25 days (pro rata) annual leave.

This role of Pembrokeshire Adder Coordinator is a fixed term contract for 12 months from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. However, there may be opportunities for extension subject to additional funding.

The role is home-based, but ideally the applicant would be based in the South West Wales area. This post reports to the coordinator of ARG UK and will be responsible for coordinating the Pembrokeshire adder outreach and engagement project.

How to apply

A full job description and person specification can be downloaded document here (44 KB) . If you fit the bill, please write explaining why you would like to be considered for this role and enclose a copy of your CV, and return it to Angela Julian (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by Tuesday 20th February.

We expect to hold initial interviews in the w/c 26th February by skype.

If you have any questions about the role please contact Angela Julian (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


HWM at Bristol Zoo in Feb 2014

HWM 2014 036On Feb 1 & 2 2014 the annual Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting was held at Bristol Zoo, who proved superb hosts making us very welcome, and laying on a wonderful conference venue with great food and facilities as well as flamingos outside the window (not everywhere can manage that), and of course a reptile house for those who managed to get out and enjoy the surroundings.

As ever, two jam-packed days of activities, presentations and workshops. The standard of presentations was uniformly high, so it is difficult to pick out highlights - though of course we are entitled to be biased and mention the most excellent ARG talks from Mike Brown of NMARG presenting the serious decline in sand lizard populations on the Sefton Coast, Paul Wilkinson's (Birmingham, Black Country and Staffordshire ARG) fascinating insight into the fluctuating fate of the amphibians inhabiting Fens Pools in the industrialised landscape of Pensnett Chase, and an up-date to Nigel Hand's (HART) ground breaking telemetry work with adders in the Malvern Hills.

We also heard updates from our (ARG UK & ARC) joint partnership Toadsize project, Bristol Zoo, ARC, Natural England, the Freshwater HWM 2014 034Habitats Trust and the Institute of Zoology, and from two overseas speakers: Raymond Creemers (RAVON, the Netherlands) who gave two very insightful talks on the gully pot problem in mainland Europe, with some practical solutions that we can try closer at home, and the impact of grazing on lizards; and Giancarlo Lalsingh (SOS Tobago) who provided a thought-provoking overview of turtle conservation in the Caribbean and the ways in which SOS are meeting the challenges faced by this enigmatic group of marine herps.

HWM 2014 033The workshops provided a focal point for exchange of news and views with the Salford University team demonstrating the latest advances in novel newt traps - (though with the advent of eDNA testing - comprehensively presented by Jeremy Biggs, there were concerns that we'd all be consigned to the pages of history), Andy Glencross and Chris Monk bringing planning legislation alive, and a ferocious debate about the pros and cons of taking live animals to public events, and how best to minimise stress to all concerned (including human volunteers) from Nigel Hand and ARC's Gary Powell.

Finally, no meeting would be complete without the social programme and, following an HWM 2014 029excellent gala dinner and raffle which raised over £600 to support the good work of SOS Tobago (big thank you to everyone for their generosity), Jim Foster's now legendary interactive quiz 'Have I got newts for you', took centre stage, with much merriment and conviviality (and if anybody knows what charade Trent was enacting, please do let Gail and me know).

So, a chance to meet up with old friends and colleagues and make new ones, swop herpy stories, learn new ideas and techniques and, as we look forward to a new field season, a chance to enjoy our own unique community (all photos courtesy and copyright of Pete Hill).

HWM 2014 030

HWM 2014 

Grateful thanks to all our generous sponsors who make this meeting possible, and affordable for our volunteers, and to the ARC team, especially Ange Reynolds, for all of their hard work behind the scenes.

 bristol-zoo-logoBHS logoCGO-ecologyFAH Docs workableCaledonian Conservationherpetologic-logo

 BWG logo transparenthesketh-ecologyARC logoARGUK 


Sun, Sea and Sand (Lizards) at the Sefton Coast

During the week before Christmas our ARG volunteers were working in the Birkdale Dunes on the Sefton Coast providing emergency aid for a very special lizard. The sand lizard is one of Britain's rarest and most beautiful wild animals. And as the name suggests it is found only in sandy places.  Almost all of our sand lizards are confined to a few heathlands in southern England. But local conservationist Mike Brown says, 'There is a distinct form of sand lizard found only on dunes along the Merseyside coast.'  

Sefton coast scrub work Dec 13 clearing scrub

But all is not well for the Merseyside sand lizard. A recent report has shown that the sand dunes – which are key to the lizards' survival – are becoming overgrown by scrub and trees on the Sefton Coast.  The warmth-loving lizards need unshaded, open sand dunes to allow them to bask in the sun and to breed successfully, and without this essential habitat the future looks bleak for them.

Help is on hand, though, supported by the ARGUK 100% fund, ARG volunteers from Manchester, Bolton and South Wales will be helping Northwest Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group, working alongside Sefton Council's Coast and Countryside team, to tackle the scrub that is swamping dunes at north Birkdale. The out-of-town volunteers include specialist chainsaw operators, who are key to reversing the tide of scrub - vital to keep the sand off the dunes, and the lizards 'running free'.

The ARGUK 100% fund is supported by habitat aid logo new and all those lovely folks who bought tickets at the HWM raffles in 2013 and 2013.

The 2014 Herpetofauna Workers Meeting - Now Fully Booked (reserve list only)

Anna Muir at HMW 2013 copyright Lothian ARG



The annual Herp Workers' Meeting is the event of the year for anyone interested in conserving amphibians and reptiles. Each year, a lively throng of herpetologists gathers to exchange ideas, debate hot topics, soak up inspiration and catch up with old friends. What better way to spend a weekend, just before the field season?

In 2014 we will be at Bristol Zoo. As ever, the programme will be a mix of up-to-the-minute research, practical conservation experiences, and reviews and dicussions about herpetofauna hot topics, with talks and workshops to cater for all interests. In 2014 these will include: an update on adder conservation presenting perspectives from Herefordshire ARG, ARC and the Institue of Zoology; the findings of the 2013 Toadsize project; the latest research from Holland on novel ways of preventing roadside drains from harming toads; the results of a Europe-wide study of amphibian disease; what our dedicated teams of ARG volunteers have discovered from surveying Sefton's sand lizards and Dudley's amphibians; and going "beyond the bottle-trap" to capture the latest developments in aquatic newt trapping. We are also delighted to welcome our very special guest speaker, Giancarlo Lalsingh of SOS (Save our Sea Turtles) Tobago, who will be telling us about the successes and challenges of conserving Tobago's sea turtles.

During the breaks, you'll be free to enjoy the zoo, which has a fantastic track record in native species work, and makes a wonderful visit. And of course we'll be laying on a social evening, with gala dinner, raffle and quiz. The meeting has been jointly organised by ARC and ARG-UK – a winning partnership for herp conservation.

We are still looking for sponsors. For the first time in many years, we have no government funding for the meeting to help offset our costs, and are relying on the generosity of our volunteers, partners and associates. Please get in touch if you can help. 

This year, this ever-popular conference has sold out, very early - so if you want to go, you will have to go onto our reserve list.

The 2014 HWM is generously supported by:

bristol-zoo-logoCaledonian ConservationCGO-ecologyHSI-logoBHS logoFAH Docs workable hesketh-ecologySARG logo  herpetologic-logoARGUKARC logo   

West Midlands Regional Meeting 'Captive breeding & re-introduction of UK reptiles & amphibians'

Adder copyright Neil PhillipsThe Herefordshire Amphibian and Reptile Team (HART) have kindly offered to organize this year's ARGUK West Midlands regional meeting which is to be held at Bromsberrow Village Hall (between Ledbury and Gloucester), on Sunday 17th November from 10.00am - 4.00pm. pdfFor more information download the flier.

The theme of the meeting is 'Captive breeding & re-introduction of UK reptiles & amphibians' and, following on from the very successful adder meeting hosted by KRAG two years ago, there will be a strong adder focus. There will be a series of presentations in the morning including an up-date on introductions from Jim Foster, who is Conservation Director at ARC, and more specific case studies on adder, pool frog and sand lizard introductions, as well as the latest findings from some of the adder research programmes, including an up-date on the genetic work conducted by IoZ. This will be followed by an open discussion which aims to explore the many factors surrounding the issue of native herp re-introductions, and finally a short West Midlands ARG round up.

Everyone is welcome (not just West Midlands ARGs), so if you would like to go, please do return the docbooking form to HART's
Sand lizard cropped John BakerChair, Richard King (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to book your place as soon as possible. HART have managed to keep the conference fee down to £12 for the day including lunch.

We look forward to seeing many of you there.

(images: adder © Neil Philips, sand lizard © John Baker)

Plus we have pleasure in giving advance notice of the pdf2014 Herpetofauna Workers Meeting, which will be held at Bristol Zoo on the weekend of 1-2 Febuary in 2014.

We are in the process of finalizing the programme and booking forms with ARC, so please watch this space for more information.

State of Nature and Spotlight on Scotland

State of Nature launch at NHMIts been a big week for wildlife conservation in the UK, and its overseas territories, with the launch of the 'State of Nature' report at the Natural History Museum on Wednesday 22 May.

For the first time ever a coalition of 25 of the foremost wildlife conservation organisations in the UK have come together to undertake a health check of nature, using the latest data available across the taxa from birds to bugs, and from our smallest liverwort to our oldest mollusc, the quahog clam, that was quietly getting on with its life during the reign of our first Queen Elizabeth, but after 100s of years of peaceful co-existence is now threatened by ocean floor dredging.

There were representatives for our plants, butterflies, bryophytes, fungi, lichens, bees, mammals, and of course our own amphibians and reptiles. Introduced by the wonderful Sir David Attenborough, who set out the stark reality of the conservation status of many of our native species, we heard from a number of speakers including the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon, who reassured us that the UK government has not forgotten thePool Frog copyright John Baker for website importance of conservation, and rounded up in stirring style by the Chief Executive of Plant Life, Victoria Chester, who reminded us all that there is much to do, but that she would be Princess Leia to the Honourable Minister's, Han Solo, should he wish to come on board this particular starship.

Then followed an opportunity to find out more about the range of exciting wildlife projects going on in the UK and its overseas territories, including our own successes with a presentation from Jim Foster, Conservation Director of ARC on the pool frog re-introduction programme  (Pool Frog - right).

Spotlight on Scotland

All is not quiet north of the border either, and this week we are delighted to welcome Peter Minting, who has joined ARC as their new Scottish Project Officer, and is based with Chris Cathrine at the Caledonian Conservation offices in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire ( 

Funded by Scottish Natural Heritage this three-year project is aimed at helping to achieve sustainability in Scotland through helping people engage with their environment, encouraging a sense of ownership and responsibility, and providing opportunities for people to engage with amphibians and reptiles as part of the shared natural heritage of Scotland.  

Daniele Muir getting her award for websiteWe also have some exciting news from Daniele Muir, co founder of the recently formed Tayside ARG.  Daniele has won a prestigious 'Securing the Future' gold award from Perth and Kinross Council for her groundbreaking work on  amphibians in road drains, which she presented at the Herp Workers Meeting, in January, in Edinburgh. 

Quoting from the Permanent Secretary's blog on the Scottish Government intranet! 

"I was over in Perth last Tuesday evening at the Council's annual staff awards, held in their stunning theatre. It was a joyous occasion, taken as a chance to celebrate team successes across the range of the Council's work...There were a host of great entries and awards, but my heart went out to the Amphibians in Drains project. This looks to prevent literally thousands of toads, frogs and similar creatures meeting a sticky end each year by the roadside. Apparently, they fall through the ribs of the drain covers in pretty large numbers and are then unable to clamber out. The solution lies in a small walkway. Engineers have designed a kerb-stone with a rebated edge wide enough to enable these little mites to skirt the drain in single file. Primary school children are evaluating its success with encouraging results. Isn't that great?"

(Photo of Daniele Muir and local councillors, engineers and countryside managers from Perth and Kinross Council from the STFA awards).







Around the ARG UK Social Network - May 2013

Here is a round up of news from the ARG UK twitter account and facebook page

Twitter news

#DidyouKnow tweets from Jo Richards through the ARG UK twitter account have been enjoyed by many people across the UK and beyond. A spanish National Park Ranger has also taken to translating the tweets into Spanish. Jo Richards our publicity officer has taken on herself to tweet two facts about amphibians and reptiles every single day of the year. It has proved quite a challenge so far. Jo recently went on a short break to Greece and so roped in Erik Paterson to guest for a week and providing #Didyouknow tweets to a amused audience. Currently at the time of writing the ARG UK twitter account has 3,659 followers, and we are following 2,957 accounts and we have tweeted just under 12,000 tweets. The use of social media is very important it seems for a radpily changing digital environment the word needs to be spread quickly and to interact with people beyond the usual hard core of herpetologists is vital to help conserve our native amphibians and reptiles. 

Currently we have been hearing about possible arson attacks on adders and other reptiles - though it transpires that the fire was accidential. Even though there were numerous dead animals found later the same week there were reports of matin adders and the combat of the adder was observed. Photos were shared of this rarely encountered wildlife spectacle.

The ARG UK network has provided much needed advice and help to TV. The BBC have a new wildlife series called 'Seasons' and through twitter the BBC was linked up with an adder watcher in Kent to film adders basking in snow. I was Jo Richards who tweeted/posted a photo of a 'snow adder' which led to a very quick turnaround to get a camera man there almost the next day. It was a challenge to get the camera at the right place but eventually Jo, her dogs and a camera man were waiting for the male adder to emerge from his shelter. Jo waited with the cameraman and the British weather closed in. After 2 hours Jo had to leave and, just 5 minutes after, the adder emerged. The cameraman filmed the snake for over 30minutes. We are hopeful that the piece will be used in the series later in the year. This followed on from last year's adder filming where basking adders were filmed in a rather special way - you will have to wait until the series to find out what they did. We will be sure to keep everyone posted. 

If you see an adder please do report it through the Record Pool If you are on twitter then please do follow our account @ARGroupsUK

Facebook group page news 

The facebook page for the ARG UK is going from strength to strength. There are a large variety of different people who have joined the group over the last year. The membership stands at 357 and is steadily rising each day. On Facebook there are also a large number AR groups who also have groups as well as pages. Essex, Kent, Surrey, Suffolk, London are just a few of the groups which have what are known as 'group' pages. Cornwall and Gloucestershire have a page which people can like rather than join.

Lots of news has been posted on the ARG UK group. Topics include the phenology of adders in the UK - Adders were shedding in North West Wales a month before animals in Surrey, Essex, Kent, and even Cornwall.  There are wonderful photographs of the animals being seen, activities undertaken to help our native herpetofauna. Petitions to help save reptile habitats from development along with the latest news from all the different groups around the country helps to keep everyone in touch and up to date with the latest on UK Herpetofauna Conservation

The Facebook page is found here 

This is the first draft of a regular website based news update from the ARG UK.

Photos, videos and other illustrations will be added to this article in the very near future.

If anyone would like to help write up news items, articles and other features from the world of UK Amphibian & Reptile Conservation then please do get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Help measure toads that cross roads Toadsize2013


'This is advance notice of a new ARC and ARG UK joint project 'ToadSize 2013' which aims to look at the impact of road traffic on toad populations. We are seeking to test the hypothesis that road mortalities during the spawning season are having a significant impact on toad populations which may be resulting in a greater proportion of smaller (younger) toads, as their life expectancies decrease.

One way of doing this is to ask our toad patrollers to measure male toads during the course of their nightly patrols. If they can measure between 10 and 20 males on each night, then this will give us sufficient data to be able to start to address this question. Ideally we can then repeat the assessment over a number of years, which will also highlight the longer term trends.

I am attaching the flier that describes the project to this e-mail. What we would like you to do, is to contact your local toad patrols and ask them whether they would like to be involved in this project. If folks are interested, then we can send out additional information including the methodology and recording forms. Recorders will be able to return the forms by post, or email, and we are also working towards an on-line recording system through the Record Pool, where you would be able to upload the data as a batch. To truly test the impact of traffic mortalities we need to include a range of crossings: busy and quiet, and all data is very welcome, so please do not feel that your crossing is not going to be suitable.

To register, or find out more about this project you can contact Angela Julian This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or John Wilkinson from ARC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We hope to be finalizing the forms in the next few weeks, so please do help us out by getting behind this and speaking to your toad patrollers.'

Angela Julian - ARG UK Secretary

Download icon ToadSize2013 - flyer


Early bird registration for the Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting 2013 HWM2013


Fantastic Christmas Cards from Devon RAG's Mabel Harris

Wonderful christmas cards from Mabel at Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group


I have painted some images for Christmas cards with a distinctly reptile and amphibian theme, see attached.  You may recognise some well-known spots on Dartmoor where all herps, that shun hibernation, head to for the best places to play in the snow.  The A6 100% recycled cards and envelopes are for sale at £1.50 each or £1.25 for three or more plus P+P or we can drop them off at Forde House offices.  25% of card profits go to Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group  for surveys, habitat improvements and to raise awareness (  The cards are blank inside for your own message.

designs include:

  • Adders (Vipera berus) Sledging at Haytor, Dartmoor, Devon
  • Common frogs (Rana temporaria) Skating at Postbridge, Dartmoor, Devon
  • Great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) Making a snownewt at Bowerman's Nose, Dartmoor, Devon
  • Common toads (Bufo bufo) Flying a kite and hang-gliding at Stone Rows, Chagford Common, Dartmoor,Devon
  • Slow worms (Anguis fragilis) Ballooning over Scorhill Circle, near Gidleigh, Dartmoor, Devon
  • Common lizards (Zootoca vivipara) Snowball fighting by Long Stone, Chagford Common, Dartmoor, Devon


Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested.  Go to or find me on facebook to see close-ups and other artwork.

A4 and A3 prints of the cards are also available.

Note that the colours may vary slightly due to different computer screen settings - but they still look great!  Make sure you allow plenty of time to avoid the Christmas postal rush...


Help the UK's Amphibians and Reptiles through the #RecordPool

Help the UK's amphibians and reptiles by promoting the online recording database the with a nifty record pool button for your website or blog (see and try below). The #RecordPool is a joint project between the ARG UK and Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. The record pool is designed to be used via recording application Herptile Id, the website, local group websites and from any mobile device. You can help spread the word of this recording database by placing the button on your website, blog so that people can record sightings of frogs, toads, newts, lizards and snakes to help with their conservation in the UK. 


Fill in a Record Pool Sighting Card!




Add this code 

[<!--START Record Pool Button--><script src="" type="text/javascript"></script><a href="" id="argbutton" class="sightingcard" title="ARGUK Records">Fill in a Record Pool Sighting Card!</a><!--END Record Pool Button-->]

into an HTML editor for your website it is that simple. various companies have already placed recording buttons on their websites including Herpetologic Ltd, Caledonian Conservation and Habitat Aid

GlosARG - Reptiles and Amphibians Really do Rock!!!

GlosARG Benefit Gig - 09.12.12

Fantastic night at The Prince Albert, Stroud for GlosARG's first ever benefit gig.
Massive turn out and the place rocked all night! Huge thanks to all who turned up in support...

The Prince Albert for being host and donating 10% of the bar take for the evening.

The 41 Club, Dustmites and Chinese Burn for playing for "FREE" to help Gloucestershire's Reptiles and Amphibians.

Reptiles and Amphibians Really do Rock!!!

Have a look at GlosARG's video of the night


Surprise award for ARAG at Bristol Green Awards

A Bristol Green Award was winging its way to the Avon Reptile and Amphibian Group last night. 

  TEMP  1351318962 1238 Greenaward

Andy Ryder (pictured above) was nominated by ARAG and Froglife and was surprised to have won. 

Andy on receiving the award emailed to say  'the ceremony was last night & I was very surprised to win as was up against some strong candidates and my category included those in paid positions as well as volunteers.  I won my award in the conservation leaders category for my role as Chair of Avon Reptile & Amphibian Group.'

  TEMP  1351318962 1238 image001

A wonderful example of the dedication of local volunteers, being rewarded, to the UK amphibians and reptiles. The network of volunteer groups across the UK are involved in local, regional and national projects including

Toads on Roads

Make the Adder Count



All the thousands of volunteers are the grass roots which work with partners such as Amphibian & Reptile Conservation and Pond Conservation to help with the conservation of these wonderful animals. 

If you would like to help with these projects and local groups find yours at 


NERC Amphibian/Reptile Survey Protocols (Draft) Consultation December 2012

Amphibian & Reptile survey protocols - Consultation December 2012

NERC protocols

Over the last two years a range of interested parties, including statutory bodies, NGOs (including ARC-Trust and ARG UK), academics and commercial practitioners have been examining survey protocols for amphibians and reptiles. A series of workshops was held around Great Britain between spring 2011 and spring 2012. This enabled the latest scientific research to be disseminated to those in the field, whilst field practitioners in turn flagged up areas where they considered further research and guidance was needed. The draft protocols that resulted from these workshops are now available and there will be a brief period of consultation whilst comments on the proposals are invited.   document   document  NERC KE Amphibian and Reptile Survey Protocols (DRAFT)

These should be made to Dr David Sewell, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Marlowe Building, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR or e-mailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to arrive no later than 27th December 2012.


'The draft survey protocols contained in this document are for consultation purposes only. They do not represent official policy, and in particular are not intended to necessarily represent the views of Natural England, Scottish National Heritage or the Countryside Council for Wales. Nor are the recommendations contained therein intended to be comprehensive. For example, recommendations are not given on the design of traps, artificial cover objects or on habitat assessment, although the authors recognise all of these to be important issues in the design of a survey programme for the herpetofauna of the UK.'

Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2013

Herpetofauna Workers Meeting - 2013

Edinburgh Conference Centre at Heriot-Watt University
Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 January 2013

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation and the Amphibian & Reptile Groups of UK are delighted to present the 2013 national Herpetofauna Workers Meeting (#HWM2013) which is to be held at the Heriot-Watt Conference Centre near Edinburgh in January 2013..

Established for over 25 years, this unique and popular event occupies the centre stage of the herpetological calendar attracting a broad range of participants from across the UK including: volunteers, professional ecologists, statutory nature conservationists, students & academics.

There is a packed programme, with presentations and workshops covering a range of topics, so something for everyone! There will also be lots of opportunities to socialize and discuss issues that are affecting you, and of course our special Gala Burns Night Dinner and quiz, which will be held on the Saturday night.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, we've been able to bring the rates down as far as we can, and once again offer a special discount to ARC friends, ARG members and students. The early bird rate runs until 21st December and the closing date from registration is 7th January.

HWM 2013 Programme

HWM 2013 Booking Form

Please return all completed booking forms to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Follow link to Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust's #HWM2013 webpages 

South East Regional meeting latest news

Reporting from the actual meeting today Saturday 17th Nov. So far we have had talks on reptile mitigation and guidance from Chris gleed-Owen and a rather entertaining talk from Jim Foster from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. 

Going through the England Biodiversity Strategy with Paul Edgar from Natural England. 

Wow wow latest developments on great crested newt future strategies which will take money for conservation rather than spend millions on mitigation. 

How will this work with widespread reptiles work? 

IMG 00000039IMG 00000041

Now onto John Buckley (Chris Packhams teacher) looking at the reintroduction of the Pool Frog into Norfolk the seventh English amphibian species and the rarest in the UK. History, research, and an update on what has happened and a talk which was presented at the World Congress of Herpetology in Vancouver, this year. 

Up next would be Martin Noble and sand lizard captive breeding part of one of the most successful reintroduction projects in the UK if not the world! 

Almost lunchtime back later with pictures from the natterjack and sand lizard enclosures. sadly the enclosures are being refurbished so no tour of the enclosures boo! 

The next talk is going to be interesting smooth snakes, new forest and burning...


NEWSFLASH - Herpetofauna Workers' meeting 2013

Ray Cranfield Adder conservation


Thanks to the wonderful sponsors of next years Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting (in Edinburgh over the 26th to 27th January 2013) we can announce that the registration for the meeting has been  reduced!!

What a way to celebrate the start of 2013 'the Year of the Snake' but also the start of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013.   An excellent meeting of presentations, and workshops mixed in with brilliant social events including a Burns Night themed gala dinner and of course the herpy quiz 'Have I got Newts for You!'

The early bird registration rate (before 21st December) is just £70 for the two day meeting per person for concessions (ARG members, BHS members, ARC Friends and Students)

 Don't delay and book onto this meeting today!!!

Download the form

icon  Booking Form for Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2013

A new approach to mitigation in the UK - Kevin Morgan

South East Regional meeting set to be an interesting outlook on species protection in the UK with the following submission document on the subject of best practice and mitigation 


'On a professional basis I've been involved with the conservation and mitigation of reptiles and amphibians for 23 years, even longer as a naturalist. Initially, mitigation was a case of last minute rescues, minimal budgets and environmental considerations that were very much on the back burner in any planning. Over time legislation became stronger, mitigation more thorough, and ecologists more professional. There was the need to make sure that survey work and mitigation was appropriate with relevant guidelines. However, in my view, and many others, with the current method statement approach surveys and mitigation are becoming even more rigid and risk adverse. It is no longer a question of mitigation guidelines but a rigid dogma, more like rules, restricting any flexibility for the experienced herpetologist.

I used to be proud of my skills and I enjoyed the challenges and strived to get the best outcome, what we call best practice today. I felt I was making a difference for the conservation of reptiles and amphibians whilst changing attitudes for the better. But with the current system such a flexible approach seems to be penalised with more paperwork, considerable delays, and even the rejection of licence applications.

Furthermore, there times when site mitigation is complicated and cannot be resolved in a method statement or by correspondence, times when a site meeting should be considered. After all, as an ecologist and ARG member, I would consider a site visit where issues were complicated before coming to a decision. However, it seems that site meetings in regard to issues with licence applications are not an option.

I addressed these issues at a SE regional IEEM conference a couple of years ago and the urgent need for change. This has not happened, and it is getting worse, further stifling any flexibility to the guidelines. I've become utterly frustrated by it all and feel that my 23 years of skills and experience is wasted and irrelevant, and I can no longer fulfil my role as a naturalist and a professional ecologist and member of IEEM'

Please download Kevin's discussion paper (below) which will probably spark a discussion at the Regional meeting of the ARG UK hosted by Hampshire Amphibian & Reptile Group at Marwell Zoological Park on the 17th November 2012

Mitigation & Best Practice Submission by Kevin Morgan

Kevin Morgan - Surrey ARG member


Kevin Morgan - Deputy Chair of the Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group

Kevin is a naturalist with considerable experience from Antarctica to the Amazon, and from whale-watching to swimming with dolphins. He is also an ecological consultant, specialising in birds, reptiles and amphibians. He is a well respected speaker and organiser of ecologically sound tourist expeditions.


The Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting 2013 Details released

adder combat

The Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting (#HWM2013) has been established for over 25 years, this unique and popular event occupies the centre stage of the herpetological calendar attracting a broad range of participants from across the UK including:volunteers, professional ecologists, statutory nature conservationists, students & academics.

The programme is gradually being pieced together for next year's meeting which will be at the Edinburgh Conference Centre at Herriot Watt University on the Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 January 2013. Various topics will be discussed through presentations and workshops. Here is a sneak preview:

  • Life on the edge? - Current status of UK adders
  • Turbulent times for tartan natterjacks?
  • Survey and mitigation practices for GCNs
  • The impact of chytrid - in the UK and overseas
  • Reconnecting dragons in Wales
  • The Glasgow living waters project
A special Burns Night Gala Dinner with a raffle to support the ARG UK 100% Grant Fund with the return of the Herpetological Quiz Have I got Newts for You (#HIGNewtsFY).
The meeting programme is being finalised and the booking details are being revised details to be released again soon. 
(NB:Responses from enquiries will be from 5th November!!!) 
Quotes - About and from the Herpetofauna Workers' meeting
"You don't see anything like this anywhere in the World" Trent Garner ZSL
"I have really enjoyed myself...I think what you are doing is really important...keep doing it Do it Louder!" Nick Baker Wildlife TV personality
Everyone is welcome to come along to the meeting and we encourage you to find your local group and/or join up to the BHS or Amphibian & Reptile Conservation to enjoy reduced rates to the meeting
Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details

Adder Workshop 1


Record Pool update September 2012

The Record Pool has been in development for a period of time now. Over the coming months many more developments will surface in relation to the online recording database for Local Amphibian & Reptile Groups. The Record Pool has a Sighting Card which is optimised for use with mobile devices such as smart phones, tablet PCs (iPad, PlayBook etc). The mobile device form was previewed at the Midlands Regional Meeting on the 22nd September and has had its launch today (24th September). You can find the sighting card on the following link

Further features will be added to the Record Pool and it will also be moving to its own domain in the New Year. The new website will be launched at the Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting on the 25th to 27th January, Edinburgh. The main focus is now on getting the Record Pool to function and to collate important records from sources which may not be available for local groups and the local record centres. Datasets have been received from iSpot, Pond Conservation and the RSPB. 

Records submitted so far

The record pool has collated just over 2,300 records from around the UK. A boost to the records came from two ARG groups who had collected records at public events this autumn. Taking the lead from the Kent RAG who have collected thousands of records from public events across the county. Essex ARG attended the Essex Country Show, an evening talk in Brentwood and most recently the open day at the Wallasea Island Project by the RSPB in total almost 250 records were collected including some rather unusual sightings from Tilbury where Agamas and geckoes have been reported. Gloucestershire ARG attended the Stroud Festival of Nature where over 150 records were collected.


Amphibian & Reptile Meetings this Autumn

Amphibian and Reptile meetings this autumn

MeetingHWM2011 Tobias UllerHWM 06. Jim F.jpg

A series of meetings are planned for this autumn which will provide an interesting insight into the work which ongoing to help our native amphibians and reptiles in the UK. it provides a chance for people to network, learn from each other and to inspire future project work which aims to help our amphibians and reptiles.

The first meeting is actually this coming weekend (22nd September) where the ARG UK regional meeting for the Midlands is being hosted at the National Forest Conkers site near Moira - further details from the Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group. This meeting will see the launch of the mobile version of the Record Pool which will hopefully revolutionise how amphibian and reptile recording in the UK.

The British Herpetological Society have organised a meeting with an international feel with talks on various species such as Chameleons in Madagascar to the blue iguanas in the Cayman Islands. This is on the 21st October in Amersham Community Centre - more details 

The Welsh Dragon Project's meeting which is the Welsh Amphibian & Reptile Symposium on the 3rd November. Through a partnership project with Amphibian & Reptile Conservation the symposium has a series of talks and presentations on topics such as natterjack toads in Wales, Aesculapian snakes, reptile mitigation & survey protocols, adder DNA research and reptile habitat management. There is also a chance to hear from ARG UK and the Wales Amphibian & Reptile Link on how all the local groups are engaging with the National NGO and the statutory bodies to deliver real conservation for our native amphibians and reptiles. The South East Regional meeting is being hosted by the Hampshire Amphibian & Reptile Group at Marwell Zoological park on the 17th November. The theme of the meeting is 'Best Practice; Survey, Mitigation and Legislation'. more details will follow soon.

The last meeting of the year is the joint scientific meeting of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation and the British Herpetological Society on the 9th December at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society - download the flyer 

These meetings all offer a different flavour of the efforts of volunteers and professionals in helping our threatened amphibians and reptiles in the UK, Europe and overseas. Its a really good diary of indoor events which helps people get over the colder winter months and leading up to the national meeting there will be further regional meetings in the South West and East of England (more details to be announced soon). People often say that the best meeting by far is the national meeting organised jointly by ARG UK & Amphibian & reptile Conservation - 

National Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting 2013

The Herpetofauna Workers' meeting  is on 25th to 27th January and will be in Edinburgh more details will follow in due course follow progress on the hash tag below



New Conservation Director at Amphibian & Reptile Conservation - Jim Foster

school frog masks pic 1 resize


Have we got Newts for You!

People may remember that Jim Foster was the Amphibian & Reptile specialist for the government's nature conservation advisor Natural England (formerly English Nature) and previously before that was the widespread species officer at Froglife where he supported the Local ARG network through passing on his advice and knowledge over the phone at that time. The number of AR groups increased dramatically over the 1990's and continues to do so today. 

After leaving Natural England last year and starting up the consultancy Cristatus Ecology Jim had been working in a variety of 'interesting projects'.  Jim had to take up an opportunity to get back into the voluntary sector. He accepted an appointment to become the Conservation Director at Amphibian & Reptile Conservation and has started in the role from the 3rd September.  Jim explained further in an email to his contacts last week:- 

 'This is a new, full-time, permanent position, focusing on biodiversity policy'. 'It's an exciting opportunity to join a great organisation, and help them to make a real difference for amphibians and reptiles'. As a consequence, Cristatus Ecology will be closing down. I will keep the website up for occasional postings, and the email address will continue.'

Jim is looking forward to working with the ARG UK panel, and the 60+ local ARG's in the near future.  

All the ARG UK Panel and, we are sure, all the voluntary groups will be wishing Jim well in his new role and hope to see him at the Herpetofaun Workers' Meeting next year in Edinburgh. 


Contact information

Jim Foster

Conservation Director

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

The Witley Centre



Surrey GU8 5QA

Tel: 01428 681059

Mobile: 07554 455365

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.







Meet the Species - Day 10 - Reptiles & Amphibians


Adders in the UK- Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

August 31, 2012 by meetspecies

The adder (Vipera berus) must be one of the UK's most iconic species, and is certainly one that gets a lot of attention! As our only venomous reptile it has unfortunately gained a somewhat dubious reputation amongst those that like to sensationalise such things. The fact is that these are not aggressive animals and they do not seek contact with humans, preferring to remain hidden from view and left to go about their business. Venom is used to subdue prey items (small rodents, lizards) and although adders will sometimes bite in self-defence this will only happen if the animal is put in a position where it feels threatened. These beautiful animals suffered persecution by humans in the past and while we hope that situation has improved it doesn't take too much media hysteria to create another new wave of panic.

Adder (c) Chris Dresh

I would consider finding  an adder in the wild as one of our top wildlife 'must see' events. These stunningly marked snakes with their striking zig-zag pattern and bright red eyes are most easily found on spring or autumn mornings when basking in the sun. It doesn't matter how many pictures of adders you see, there is no substitute for seeing one in the flesh. The males have black markings on a light background (very light brown to white) while the females have dark brown markings on a light brown to straw coloured background. Black adders are relatively common. Females are larger than males and can reach a size of well over 70cm, although as with 'fishermen's tales' the length of adders will often increase as the story of the sighting is told!

Adder (c) Chris Dresh

The adder is currently the species that UK herpetologists are most concerned about. There is mounting evidence that adders are in decline in many parts of the country. Habitat loss and land use change are the most common reasons for declines in our reptile species but by no means the whole story. Here at ARC we attempt to improve the conservation status of the adder in a number of ways: by making sure that reserve management planning (both on our own sites and other peoples) takes adder habitat requirements and seasonal movements into account, by undertaking extensive  survey on a national scale (, collating information on the historic range of adders ( 'Add an adder')  and by enlisting volunteers to help with counts at the often  overlooked, but vitally important hibernation/spring emergence  sites used by adders (

Adder (c) Chris Dresh

We encourage everyone to get involved in these projects if they can, or go to your local Amphibian and Reptile Group ( for further information on local adder projects. Conservation action to reverse the decline of the adder must be based on good distribution, population and habitat use data and to effectively collect this information we, and the adder need your help!

With great thanks to Gary Powell, Senior Reserves Manager at the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation for his brilliant contribution!

To find out more about adders, other reptiles & amphibians and the work that ARC do please visit

You can also follow them on Facebook & Twitter


Seasonal Field Work with Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

A chance to go out and carry out practical conservation work which WILL benefit amphibians and reptiles in the UK! (from CJS advert)

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is looking to recruit two Seasonal Field Officers for our winter management team based in Surrey.  This 6 month contract involves conservation management work on our nature reserves throughout Surrey and occasionally further afield.  Chainsaw/pesticide qualification is desirable but a willingness to work hard and outdoors in all weathers is more important.  Hours of work – Monday to Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm.  Salary circa £15,000 pro rata.

Closing date for applications – Friday 24th August. Interviews to be held week commencing 3rd September.   Please contact Helen Wraight on 01202 391319 for an application form or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. alternatively, an application form and full details can be found at

Update on the Record Pool August 2012

Record Pool August 2012The Record Pool is an online database which has been developed by Herp Worker's in the UK. The project is a partnership with Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, Pond Conservation and other experts in the field such as Steve Langham (Surrey ARG) and Lee Brady (Kent County Recorder for Herpetofauna). The intention for the Record Pool is to help people, outside of official recording schemes, to report when and where they see reptiles or amphibians in the UK.  

The Record Pool has recently launched a survey sheet for people to report multiple sightings from multiple sites and on different dates in order to get more detailed information which may not have entered other online recording schemes.  The Record Pool is being refined all the time with a bottom up approach of volunteers testing and using the system from the front end (web site and web forms) and also testing the functionality of the back end (admin system).

2,000 records have been collated

To date over 2,000 records have been collated and these have now been extracted and saved into excel spreadsheets and sent to local recorders in the following counties:-

  • Kent, Surrey, Oxfordshire, Essex, Cheshire, Lancashire, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire
  • Perthshire, Glasgow (city of), Dumfriesshire, Lanarkshire, Inverness-shire

This first round was from counties which had more than 5 records as of August 2012.  From the admin system the leading counties (submissions) were as follows

  • Essex 291
  • Hampshire 203
  • Lanarkshire 189
  • Herptile ID App records (no county named) 152
  • Devon 32

The next round of reporting is being planned for December 2012. If you would like to have records for your ARG, LRC then please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Future developments

The following developments as suggested by local recorders and the volunteer testers will be progressed over the next month or so

  • Move the Record Pool to its own domain
  • Add a photo/sound/video file upload facility
  • Optimise the survey sheet and sighting card for mobile devices
  • Utilise the Species Icons designed by KRAG
  • Place an online recording form on all the free ARG websites listed on the ARGUK subdomain
  • Upload data from iSpot, Pond Conservation's Big Spawn, Big Pond Thaw and Big Pond Dip Survey
  • Finish the mapping facility on the admin system

Other online recording news

There are exciting developments online from Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group who are developing an online atlas using their data and displaying amphibian & reptile hotspots within interactive maps on google or bing. The idea is to feed in the information from the Record Pool into this database to help produce an atlas for the South East of England 

Here is a snippet of the atlas map taking shape (from Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group) 

Surrey Atlas

 Looking forward to see this develop into the first online interactive Amphibian & Reptile atlas for the South East of England.....perhaps the rest of the country.....WATCH THAT SPACE!





Midlands Regional Conference 22nd September 2012

Saturday 22 September 2012
9.30am – 4pm
National Forest Waterside Centre
Bath Yard, Bath Lane, Moira
Swadlincote, DE12 6BA

A bargain at only £12 (£6.00 for ARG members)


Herps on Radio 4's Living World

Bringing back the UK's Rarest Frog - The Norfolk Pool Frog.....

Need a breather from the Olympics?  Wind down with a gentle natural history ramble on the radio.  The Living World is a natural history programme produced by BBC's Radio 4.  The most recent edition featured the northern pool frog and can be enjoyed on the Listen Again option.

There is also an on-line archive of programmes including some on herps and ponds:

(Photos from the BBC website - the Living World)

Pool Frogs in NorfolkThe beautiful Norfolk Pool FrogBringing back the UK's Rarest Frog - Norfolk Pool Frog


Welsh Dragon Meeting announced for November 2012

A newly formatted meeting has been announced by national charity Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust for the 3rd November 2012 as part of their Welsh Community Engagement Project. The Welsh Amphibian & Reptile Symposium (WARS) is titled 'Conserving Your Real Welsh Dragons!'. The project is described as ground breaking and includes working with the local Amphibian & Reptile Groups in Wales. 


To register please fill in this form 

Gayle_KRAG_Adder_ConservationFreya_Smith_ZSL SW_Meeting_27th_Nov_2010

ARG UK and its network have regional meetings each autumn and winter to provide a chance for people to learn more about what local ARG's are doing in their areas. These sort of meetings are vital for people to come together and learn from each other regarding local conservation activities by Local ARG's and also mixed in with the latest developments in research. This Welsh Meeting is no exception with a full day of speakers, a mini soapbox session and an ARG round up over lunch.

Adder_Workshop_1Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust adder_conservationn_2

Welcome to the Newly formed Gloucestershire ARG!

The ARG in Gloucestershire has recently been re-founded by Scott Passmore and Robin WardStunning_female_adder

Here is an introduction to the group

'Based in the Forest of Dean; Gloucestershire Amphibian and Reptile Group (GlosARG) comprises of volunteers across Gloucestershire; it has been created for anyone who is concerned with the conservation of native frogs, toads, newts, lizards and snakes.

Our aim is to.....

- Raise awareness
- Recruit volunteers
- Survey Gloucestershire
- Manage existing habitats
- Create new habitats

- Achieve protection status on existing and new habitats
- See Gloucestershire recognised as a special place for Herptile Conservation

This isn't going to happen overnight and it isn't going to be easy, but with our passion, focus and some much needed help, we are sure we can achieve our goals. We will be organising walks, talks as well as teaching volunteers how to survey all the magnificent amphibians and reptiles we have in Gloucestershire.

Until now,Gloucestershire did not have an ARG group, so we decided to change this and show the world the wonders of this special county. Please contact us if you would like to help.

We hope you will join us and thank you for your support.



If you are in and around Gloucestershire do get in contact with the group who ar elooking for willing volunteers to help with events, recording and other practical conservation which benefits local amphibians and reptiles

Send a message to our Facebook Page -->>  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Catch us on Facebook -->>

Follow us on Twitter -->> @GlosARG

Contact Email:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The latest news in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation in the UK


Its the Queen's Jubilee Edition of the Hop gossip!

The latest newsletter from Amphibian & Reptile Conservation is now available. Items include the very latest up to date news on all the conservation projects, news and views from the UK herpetofauna conservation world. 

Adders, Natterjacks, and also a big mention of the Record Pool - please do send in any ad hoc or detailed survey information 

icon Hop Gossip - Summer/Autumn

Its time to PARTY for the launch of London's Herp Atlas!

The CLARE Project is welcoming people to a party on the 20th July to celebrate the launch of the London Herpetofauna Atlas

Here are the details

The CLARE Project is now coming to the end of its duration. One of the main aims of this project was to produce to an atlas of London’s herpetofauna and so to say a big thank you to everyone who's been involved or interested in the project and to LAUNCH London’s Amphibian and Reptile Atlas we are throwing a PARTY!

At: Camley Street Natural Park (London Wildlife Trust reserve), Kings Cross, Camden N1C 4PW

On: Friday 20th July from 4:30pm

We will be providing pizzas (thanks to Camley Street's outside pizza oven) and drinks for everyone (until they run out). And we will of course be giving out the hard copies of London's Amphibian and Reptile Atlases which we hope will inspire wildlife recording and the conservation of London's amphibians and reptiles into the future.

On behalf of the project partners; Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, London Wildlife Trust, GiGL and London Amphibian and Reptile Group (LARG) - Thank you and we hope to see you all there!

Sophie Hinton

CLARE Project Officer

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

C/o: London Wildlife Trust

Skyline House, 200 Union Street, London SE1 0LX

direct dial: 020 7803 4289

switchboard: 020 7261 0447

mobile: 07810 184 501

Local Amphibian & Reptile Groups are preparing to help with local Bioblitz events this summer

Local groups in Cornwall, Berkshire and Peterborough are preparing to help with Bioblitz events across the UK 

The Bioblitz event is a wildlife recording event where the public are encouraged to record as many species of plant, animal and fungi over 24 hours. Several local groups have helped with bioblitz events in Devon, Hampshire and other places where natural history societies and recording groups have required the expertise of local herpetofauna experts. With just a handful of species you would have thought that finding amphibians and reptiles would be easy. However the events are often at a time of year when both reptiles and amphibians are much harder to find and when you do find them their identification can be tricky. 

The record number of reptiles is currently held by the Alresford Bioblitz held in May 2011 - a total of 84 slowworms were counted within St John's Churchyard - can anyone beat that number of reptiles?

ARG UK have the #recordpool and online identification guides to help people identify amphibians and reptiles in their local area please do send in the records so that they can be passed onto local recorders

Here are some details of a Bioblitz events this summer


Bio-blitz at Tremough campus

Group: Cornwall Reptile & Amphibian Group
Date: Saturday 16 June 2012

Tremough campus are holding a Bio-blitz to record as much wildlife for the site as they. CRAG already has an event at Swanpool on this day, but would be great if members were able to drop into Tremough to help locate and identify any reptiles and amphibians on campus.

It may be possible for some CRAG members to attend both events, as it would be good for the groups focus to have some input and hopefully get some records.

The wildlife presenter Nick Baker will be on hand at the event. 


Silwood Park BioBlitz

will take place 30 June - 1 July. Open to the public 11-4pm on 1 July. Bug hunts, pond dipping, nature walks and more!

Berkshire, UK ·


Wicken Fen BioBlitzGroup: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group
Date: Saturday 21 July 2012
Description:We are planning on holding a Wicken Fen Bioblitz this year, on the 21st-22nd of July. A Bioblitz is when, over a 24hr time period, you record as many species as possible at a site. See - - for more info. We would like to use it as an opportunity to get as many different people involved in recording species at Wicken Fen, it will be a really fun way to get the public engaged with science and nature at Wicken Fen. It will run from 11.00am on Saturday-11.00am on Sunday.


Bio Blitz - Hampshire Amphibian & Reptile Network

Petersfield, Alton and East HampshireQueen Elizabeth Country Park

4:00pm Saturday 11 Aug 2012 to Sunday 12 Aug 2012

Join us for a 24hour nature hunt and help discover as many of the weird and wonderful species living in the park as possible.

Venue: Queen Elizabeth Country ParkTelephone: 02392 595040

There are many bioblitz events across the country and we would like to encourage AR groups to get involved with these events.

The wonder of the Adder.....


Adders - cutting through the scare mongering

The Health Protection Agency has recently put out a press release regarding the issue of adder bite enquiries. The reported cases numbering just 196 in three years there was a large percentage of these bites were on the hand leaving the HPA to believe that this was avoidable and so issued the following press release 

This news item will be following the media backlash which has been unleashed due to the press release which was intended to help the public avoid being bitten while out in the countryside. The risk of being bitten is very low over most of the UK. The adder being the most vulnerable and some cases very rare in some counties.

For hundreds of years adders have been persecuted and are now a protected species and cannot be deliberately harmed or killed! Something which was omitted from the HPA press release. 

The press have jumped on the bandwagon with sensationist headlines which may do more harm than good for both people and the adders themselves.

Over the last 20 years the attitude towards snakes has dramatically changed. Many examples of the fascination of the British public in regards to reptiles can be found at the New Forest reptiliary, over subscribed reptile rambles and in one case a regular adder walk each spring where up to 90 people at a time go out to be shown adders in their natural habitat. The ages  of the people range from 8 to 90 and every year the adders never fail to impress and inspire on thee public engagement walks.

It is sad that possibly all the hard work of local council's, country Park rangers, local args, and conservationists in getting a greater acceptance of this much maligned animal to a place where people respect and wonder at this snake still here where other species such as the bear, wolf and other more dangerous animals have gone extinct thanks to humans. There are many people out there who are passionate about their local adders. Hours in the field carefully recording numbers and important habitat features so that year on year individuals are recognized. The pioneers of this sort of work includes the likes of Tony Phelps and Sylvia Sheldon who have studied adders for decades. There are a new band of adder watchers who have taken inspiration from these pioneers. There are many more out there and we would like to record their findings in the Make the Adder Count survey which can be found at 

Latest newsletter ARG Today 11 now available

The latest Newsletter is available to download

pdf pdf ARG Today 11


Proud to be supporting all the Local ARG's across the country, well done to all the contributors and the editor Colin Williams, Angela Julian and John Baker. Where else can you find out so much about local conservation action through local volunteers for herpetofauna conservation in the UK?

Welsh Project Officer for Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

 Community Engagement in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Across Wales

Project Officer (1 year post; possible further 2 years subject to fundraising), £21,000 per annum Full Time (may include some evening and weekend work). Based in Wales; home location or office t.b.c.

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation has secured funding through the Countryside Council for Wales for a project to increase community engagement in conserving reptiles and amphibians in Wales.  The project is aimed at helping to achieve sustainability in Wales through helping people engage with their environment, encouraging a sense of ownership and responsibility and providing opportunities for people to engage with amphibians and reptiles as part of the shared natural heritage in Wales.  The project will last initially for one year with a view to fundraising to run the project for a further two years.

A project officer is required to manage the project which will:

  • Promote recording, coordinate a national survey and monitoring campaign and produce information about species distributions and status for different audiences and gain wide involvement through ‘Citizen Science’ projects, outreach and public participation.
  • Develop and initiate habitat enhancement work through partnerships with land managers including developers, statutory organisations, nature conservation bodies and private land-owners.
  • Support the current network of Amphibian and Reptile Groups in Wales and work with these groups to develop information about amphibians and reptile conservation that is accessible to people across Wales.
  • Provide training for individuals, community groups and conservation professionals
  • Coordinate Wales Amphibian & Reptile Link.
  • Run a herpetofauna symposium/ regional event to promote an exchange of ideas and knowledge across Wales.
  • Further develop links planning and development structure to enhance and safeguard amphibian and reptile populations.
  • Develop further funding bids to allow continuation of the project for at least a further two years.

Applicants will need a good knowledge of herpetofauna, excellent interpersonal skills and demonstrable experience working on herpetofauna conservation in Wales and in particular with the voluntary sector.  An active involvement with Amphibian and Reptile Groups over a number of years will be a considerable advantage.

To apply, please send a current CV and covering letter outlining how you would (i) promote engagement in herpetofauna conservation and recording in Wales, (ii) engage key stakeholders in habitat enhancement for key herpetofauna species in Wales and (iii) develop publicity and information resources (and a Welsh Herpetofauna Symposium) to promote the aims of the project. Applications should be received by 27th April. Interviews will be held on 8th May, location t.b.c.

As this is a one year project, we are keen for a person to be in post by end of May or as soon as possible thereafter.

Please follow the links below for a Welsh version of this advert and for a copy of the full Job Description and Person Specification (English or Welsh). For hard copies or to submit an application, please contact: Helen Wraight at Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, 655a Christchurch Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth BH1 4AP;            01202 391319      . Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Applications by email, with attached letter and CV will be perfectly acceptable.

  Job Advert (English) >>> 

  Job Advert (Welsh) >>>

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A radical plan to help the Natterjack!

Recent media attention has highlighted the impact of current drought conditions on natterjack toad breeding success. Natterjack breeding ponds are typically shallow sandy pools which dry up in some years. This is good for keeping predators in check, but with several consecutive dry winters and springs, it poses a serious threat to breeding success.

Natterjack toad

With fewer than 50 breeding populations in Britain (a number that has struggled to increase despite decades of conservation), the plight of the natterjack seems as difficult as ever. An added worry is the discovery of chytrid at some natterjack populations, and concerns that this is causing declines. Coupled with genetic impoverishment in some populations, the natterjack seems to be a little less robust than we would like. Is it now time to consider radical action, and perhaps some lateral thinking?

One solution could be to introduce natterjacks to locations where they have not existed historically, but where the habitat is ideal. I have often pondered this while walking in sand quarries where I've worked. Bare sand, sparsely-vegetated sand, ephemeral pools, plenty of invertebrates – it all seems ideal.

And in fact, in Switzerland, sand quarries are the mainstay of natterjacks, and road construction projects are their main corridor of dispersal. Temporary breeding pools are simply taped off at sensitive times of year, and the quarry operator is allowed to go about their business relatively unhindered. This is a truly pragmatic strategy. The natterjacks can breed and thrive. Some are killed, inevitably; but the overall result is good, and with minimal habitat management. Contrast this with the intensive management required to maintain populations in Britain.

Sand Quarries could help the natterjack

Even with a concerted conservation effort by Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, Amphibian & Reptile Groups, landowners, country agencies and other partners, natterjacks face a constant struggle for survival in many areas. Natural seral succession is one of the biggest challenges, and natterjacks rely upon scrub management and grazing regime at many sites. They are pioneer-opportunists in nature, and in an increasingly-managed landscape in Britain, there are few places than meet their approval. In early post-Ice Age Britain, the sparsely-vegetated landscape with plenty of bare fluvial and coastal sand would have been ideal.

Such early-successional environments only really exist in coastal dunes and similar environments – and in sand quarries. Could we not introduce natterjacks to sand quarries up and down Britain? It would require a licence allowing quarry operators to go about their business without worrying about killing individual natterjacks; a similar situation to Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, Forestry Commission, Natural England and other large land managers.

So how about it? How about trialling this approach by introducing natterjack spawn to several specially-licensed quarries? A key consideration would be to assure the quarry operators that they are not making a rod for their own back. It would require assurances from the statutory bodies, and a carrot in the form of a positive PR story: 'Quarries step in to save iconic natterjack toad!'

Conservationists and quarries are unlikely bed-fellows, and I can see them lining up for a slice of this PR gold.

Dr Chris Gleed Owen is Director of the specialist wildlife consultancy CGO Ecology and chairperson of the Dorset Amphibian & Reptile Network

Press Releases/News:

British Ecological Society - Natterjack toad threatened by UK drought – intensive conservation efforts needed to protect amphibians 

Natural England - Is the Natterjack toad about to croak? 

Record Pool - Survey Sheet is now live

ARG UK has been working on an online recording system for local ARG's and other interested parties to send amphibian and reptile sightings from around the UK.sighting_card

For some time the record pool page had a simple sightings card, online identification guides (RAUK), links to ispot and Amphibian & Reptile Conservation's excellent iPhone/iPad application HerptileId.

ARG UK at the beginning of the year encoded the Make the Adder Count Survey Form to the domain ARG UK hopes to support this project by providing this online reporting facility for adder counters across the UK. The project needs to monitor at least 100 sites per year to determine changes in status. 

ARG UK have just finished the next system which is called the Survey Sheet. The survey sheet is designed for reporting sightings from multiple sites or information from a series of visits to single sites (an important part of surveying for both reptiles and amphibians). 


The Survey Sheet is also aimed at professional ecologists who collect lots of detailed information on amphibians and reptiles each year. 

ARG UK hopes to encourage consultants to fulfil their obligations under their professional codes of conduct and in EPS licensing it is a legal requirement to send data such as newt survey, translocation and monitoring data to local record centres. Data collected through the record pool will be used for conservation purposes and will be sent through to local recorders and local record centres. If you would like to obtain data from within your area ARG UK would direct you to the local Record Centre/Recorder as the Record Pool does not carry out data searches. If you are a local recorder or record centre and would like to have submissions from the Record Pool then please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for more information

ARG UK has been inspired by ARG's in Surrey & Kent over their online recording systems and they have been very helpful in designing and implementing the Record Pool. The Record Pool will be sending data to Surrey & Kent's databases. If you are an ARG and you also have a database which we could send data to please get in touch.

If you are an avid recorder of amphibians and reptiles then please do have a go at using the new Survey Sheet to report your data. If you spot an amphibian or reptile while out and about then please report it to the Record Pool as an ad hoc sighting in the Sighting Card. ARG UK hopes that people can report from the field directly by using smart phones. Sightings which are uploaded onto the iPhone/iPad application which is set to share with us will also be uploaded into the record pool. 

Lets all get those records to where they can do the most good......

Record Pool - Online Recording


Welcome to new groups Cambridgeshire & Cheshire

The ARG UK panel is pleased to announce new groups and contacts in Cheshire, Cambridgeshire and Ireland

The ARG network has grown over the last few weeks with new groups in Ireland and Cheshire and new contacts in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. You can find the latest details on the local group pages. We welcome the Cheshire Active Naturalists (CAN), the Herpetological Society of Ireland and Paul Furnborough who looks after the Hampton Nature Reserve in Peterborough and has taken up the role of the chair for the CPARG group.

It is with regret that some groups have gone into dormancy. The group in Staffordshire has become one group which no longer is functioning as a group and we would love to hear from people in the area who would like to form a committee or group. We would like to hear from potential contacts for the area. ARG's are naturally dynamic and they tend to go in ebbs and flows of activity. Staffordshire was one of the founding groups in the 1980's alongside the groups in Surrey and Kent. If anyone would like to contact us regarding the Staffordshire group and any areas where a new group can be established we would like to hear from you 

Contact - email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Mysterious toad deaths in Cornwall

ARG UK was contacted recently about the mass mortality of toads and frogs around spawning ponds in Cornwall. Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group member Melanie Pritchard was greeted with the gruesome find of lots of toad and frog bodies by the side of the pond she was surveying. Individual toads and frogs were left in pieces in some places while in other areas toads were left piled in heaps of dead and dying bodies.

At first Melanie was concerned about the possibility of disease and made contact with the ARG UK panel for advice. Several members of the panel reviewed the evidence contained in the photos and came to the conclusion that this was the work of a predator, most likely otter, mink, rat or heron. Melanie will be checking for further signs of the culprit. 

The grouping of large numbers of amphibians in or approaching the breeding pond at spawning time provide an easy food source for their predators. The piling up of bodies around the pond edge is either where the animal sets up a feeding station catching prey and then taking it to the same spot to eat or it could be the behaviour of caching food items when it is plentiful.

Although toads have toxins in their skin and paratoid glands which secrete a milky substance over the skin to make them taste bad to deter predators, some animals have learnt  that toads can be eaten from the belly which does not have the toxins. Often toads which have been eaten by otters seem to have been turned inside out as the otter flips them over and eats the flesh and spawn from the underside of the toad. Frogs do not have such toxins and therefore are also defenceless against these predators. Despite this, sufficient frogs survived to spawn in the pond.

Frog Spawn Clumps and Toad Spawn Strings can be reported to the Big Spawn Count 2012

If you have seen any frog or toad deaths then please do let us know about them in the Record Pool sightings card





The Record Pool 

The Big Spawn Count 2012 - the latest

Frogs are really now getting in the spawning mood.....

Jane Adams aka @Wildlifestuff posted this video of frogs in her garden pond - 19 clumps of spawn is the largest reported so far to the Big Spawn Count 2012

Frogs are have now turned up as far north as Edinburgh. Frogspawn have been reported from Kent, New Forest, Devon, Somerset and the number of spawn clumps are gradually rising in ponds up and down the country. The main thing to do is keep an eye on the numbers of clumps turning up in your chosen pond or ponds. Once you see that no more spawn is being deposited this would be the peak of the breeding in that particular pond. It is this number which allows an estimate of the frog population in any given pond. Please do help our common frogs and send in the peak spawn clump counts to Pond Conservation for the Big Spawn Count 2012.

More news to follow soon....


ASP - Adder Status Project


After the South East Regional Meeting historic vote last year, followed by press coverage of the call for further protection for the UK's only venonmous snake species the Adder the government advisors Natural England has established a short project which has been termed the Adder Status Project or ASP.adder_combat

The Adder has consistently been ranked the rarest of the widespread species within the National Amphibian & Reptile Recording Scheme, Add an Adder collated historic data on adder presence over the the UK while Make the Adder Count has been collating count data on adder sites across the UK for the last 7 years. Local groups have been working hard on their adder populations examples of these projects are found in Herefordshire ART (Whats that Snake?), Surrey ARG (Adder Project) and Kent RAG (Adders in Decline). All this information is vital to understanding the bigger picture for the adder as well as reviewing what needs to be done for the future of the species.

The Project is being spearheaded by Dr Chris Gleed Owen on behalf of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation who is working Steve Langham from Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group. The project is going to try to assess the current situation regarding the status of the Adder in the UK. Using predictive mapping and other such wizardry it is hoped that habitat assessments can be undertaken via the internet to help local volunteers and other surveyors to properly target the adder as a species of concern each year.

The Make the Adder Count Project was relaunched at the Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2012 with a successful workshop and has now its own reporting system into the Record Pool -

The request:- For people who would like to help verify records across the country please email Chris on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

'I’m currently working, to a very tight schedule, on a project for ARC, funded by NE. It’s an assessment of the status of adders across England (working title: “Adder Status Project (ASP)”). I am currently trying to gather as much adder data as possible, from all over England, in the short timescale of now until mid-February (c.15th) . We’re after all reptile records, not just adder; as this will help us analyse false negatives vs real absence. We’ve already got ARC’s Rare Species Database, plus the NARRS, MTAC, Add an Adder and Sliding Scales datasets. I have also put in requests via the NBN Gateway, for full access to all the individual county LRCs’ datasets. Some have already responded positively, and I’m hoping quite a few more do. It goes without saying that all data will be treated sensitively and with due acknowledgement. We have to compile data as quickly as possible, as the project ends in mid-March, and we need the data in the next week or two at most. I know most of the ARGs have a good relationship with their local ARGs, and regularly share data with them; so I should get most ARG data via the NBN/LRCs route. But I’m also wondering if there might be any reptile data out there that has not made its way to the relevant LRCs? I thought perhaps you might be able to out a request please to find out? We will be grateful for any reptile data (1km resolution or greater) from any English county, before the middle of Feb. Steve Langham is working flat out on the habitat & species data wizardry, and I am trying to gather the raw materials. We will be reporting to ARC (& them to NE) in mid-March. The aim is to assess the status of adders across England, as best as we are able to at present; and to recommend the way forward for monitoring and setting conservation goals. Hopefully there will be a follow-on project later in the year if funds materialise, and that would allow wider consultation and participation. Many folks will be hearing from me in the meantime too.

I also wonder if any of the ARG contacts would be able to assist in verifying/validating adder records for me please? Any help with this would be a godsend, as we have thousands of Add an Adder records that need verifying.

Thanks in advance,'


Dr Chris Gleed-Owen, Director & Principal Ecologist, CGO Ecology Limited, 5 Cranbourne House, 12 Knole Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 4DQ - 01202 251114 - 07846 137346 -


Toads on Roads - keep an eye on the weather!

Surrey ARG Toad SignThe cold weather has thawed now is the time to look out for the migration of toads across roads heading towards their breeding pond. Often toads seem to bunch up and go all at once after cold winter weather. It appears that warm mild winter weather leads to a more drawn out migration. Many of the registered toads on roads sites are supervised and coordinated by Local Amphibian & Reptile Groups

'Toads on Roads' was established in 1984 by Flora and Fauna International. Local Amphibian & Reptile Groups quickly started managing their crossing sites. The longest running example may well be the excellent work undertaken by Surrey ARG

It is believed that toads may already have started crossing roads in the South West and requests for volunteers have gone out over twitter, facebook and the online news media.

Swindon - Toad Patrol

Suffolk ARG - Toad Patrol

Bristol - Toad Patrol 

Bristol Zoo & Avon AARG - Toad Patrol

Coltswold Water Park - Toad Patrol 

The ARG UK panel hopes that all the thousands of volunteers have a safe toad crossing or patrolling season. If you would like to join a local ARG and help patrolling a toad crossing in your area then please check our local groups page or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can put you in touch with other local volunteers.

Surrey ARG Toad Crossing road

Toadally Awesome - The 2013 Toad Patrol Season


ToadSize recording copyright Emma WallaceWith the recent onset of more Spring-like weather and warmer evening temperatures, toads are once again on the move, with amorous amphibians heading for their breeding ponds.

The Henley Toad Patrol who operate the crossing on the busy A4155 have now assisted over 6,000 toads to cross the road, so a big thank you to Angelina and her team for their sterling efforts, and please everybody do let us know how you are getting on.

This year the ARGUK 100% fund made a small grant available to KRAG to help with their various toad projects including, 'Getting Toads Out of a Hole', and their regular toad patrols. It is great to see our funds being put to such good use, as Amy Wright and her team get out on the highways and byways of Kent to save local amphibian populations.

OxARg toad measuring 2 A JulianFor all those taking part in toad patrols please don't forget our ToadSize project, which seeks to find out more about the impact of road mortality on toad populations, by measuring male toads. To participate you will need to measure between 10 and 20 toads on the nights sampled, write down the measurements and send them to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or directly to John Wilkinson at ARC (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

(images copyright Emma Douglas, Angie Julian)

Find out more about toads on roads

Toads on Roads  is an awareness campaign started by Flora and Fauna International in 1984. Amphibian and Reptile Groups have been at the heart of the campaign and have organised and coordinated toad crossings since 1986. An example of this work can be found in Surrey where the local ARG has coordinated over 30 registered toad crossings. 

There is a network of volunteers, groups and organisations who help monitor toad crossings and rescue animals from the road. You can contact Froglife to register a new crossing or to find out which crossings are being patrolled. Alternatively you can contact your local ARG (many ARGs are involved with toad patrols and would welcome new volunteers).

Hundreds of volunteers organise the installation of road signs, raise awareness locally and operate toad patrols during the main traffic periods. Toad patrolling is potentially a dangerous activity, so volunteers must assess the risks of walking along busy roads at night. In some cases Local ARGs have installed fencing and even tunnels underneath the road in order provide access across the road for the toads while reducing the need for putting volunteers in the way of traffic.

If you have queries about how to help toads then have a look at the advice booklet

pdf  Toads - Advice for Planners - published by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Considerations for ARG Groups


  • ARG UK's insurance (free to affiliated groups) covers toad patrolling as long as risk assessments and training have been undertaken and the members of the patrol are signed up members of the local ARG. 
  • Find your local ARG to see whether you can help with toad crossings in your area.

Coordination at county level

  • ARG UK would like to publish a list of ARG's that are actively coordinating toad patrols for Toads on Roads. One of the hardest aspects of this sort of activity is keeping going through the main migration time (time of year and through the night). Therefore ARG UK are keen to be able to point new volunteers to their local Toads on Roads patrol to help keep the rescue going over the migration period
  • If you would like to be involved then do contact your local group or send in your details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Local Authority/Highways - closures of roads, signs etc

  • Sitting toad for logoIt is probably best to contact your local council to see whether volunteers can open the signs and then close them when the migration has finished.
  • If you have a registered toad crossing it is probably best to let the local Highways department know when toads are crossing so that they can put up signs if these are required. 
  • Some signs are fold-down or -over signs. 







Snakes in the grass revealed in Scotland

Ssssscotland here we come!


Recent news about the status of grass snakes living wild has been posted by Chris Cathrine, Clyde ARG and ARG UK Scotland Rep who has been researching the presence of grass snakes ever since he spotted a grass snake while surveying for great crested newts.

The story was reported at the Scottish Herpetology Meeting last year and a follow up story has been published in the Herald Scotland. 

Further efforts to find other grass snake sites in Scotland are in preparation and more news on this will be revealed very soon



Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting 2012

An excellent two days of talks, presentations, updates, an evening quiz and workshops are what made up the 22nd Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting. The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Amphibian and Reptile Groups organised the event with the help of sponsors such as Pearce Environmental, Herpetologic Ltd, ARC Ecological Services, Ecoline, Surrey ARG, among the supporters.


The welcome return of the quiz Have I got Newts For You? on the Saturday night was one of the many highlights of the weekend. The presentation programme included varied topics relating to the future work of Natural England, SUDs in Scotland, the Sand Lizard Recovery programme, reintroduction of the native pool frog,  Connecting London's Amphibian & Reptile Environments (CLARE), updates from the amazing work of local AR groups in Kent, Warwickshire, Highlands, Wales, Herefordshire along with an update on the UK Chytrid Survey aka the Big Swab


Workshops covered topics relating to amphibian recording, a new DEFRA pond surveillance project, dealing with negative attitudes to reptiles and making the adder count. 

We were joined by TV personality Nick Baker. Nick obviously enjoyed the quiz - to quote him 'this is the best quiz I have ever been to'. The ARG UK 100% Fund was bolstered with £400 raised by the raffle at the end of the Saturday evening.  

Nick also joined the workshop on adders. He got really involved with the group discussion of our only venomous snake and its conservation.

Freya Smith from ZSL reported on the latest on the situation with chytrid fungus in the UK and thanked all the Big Swab 2011 volunteers with cakes decorated with a herpetofauna theme. 

The weekend was rounded off with a presentation from Nick Baker, who left us with his impressions of the Herp Workers' Meeting:

Thanks to Amphibian and Reptile Conservation for maintaining the high standards of the Herp Workers' Meeting. This was an excellent conference, setting everyone up for the coming field season.


The Way Forward - Priorities for Adder Conservation

A well attended South East Regional Meeting last year voted overwhelmingly to call for better protection for the Adder (the rarest widespread reptile species). A facilitated discussion at the end of the meeting has led to this document being produced to highlight the ideas behind how the adder can be better conserved and protected from the many threats which is faces in the UK

The Way Forward - priorities for adder conservation

Julia Wycherley Award 2011

Julia Wycherley Award 2011


It’s some time since the ARG UK Panel unanimously agreed that Frank Bowles should be inaugural recipient of the newly named Julia Wycherley Award, the ARG UK's award which is presented to the individual who has made a significant and substantial contribution to UK herpetology.

 The presentation was to be made at the 2011 Herpetological Workers’ Meeting but Frank was unable to attend, so the first Scottish Regional Conference, held in Glasgow in November 2011 was an ideal occasion to hand over the award (Frank is on the left in the photo).

Although born in England, Frank moved to Scotland with his parents when still a lad, and has indulged his passion for amphibians and reptiles since then, continuing to do so in his 80th year.  He has represented Scotland for many years at both HGBI and BHS and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of many things herpetological, which he is always pleased to share with others.

The ARG UK award was re-named in honour of Dr Julia Wycherley MBE, the first individual recognised in this way by the ARG UK Panel. Frank is a fine candidate for this recognition award and will be at the Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting in 2012 - please do buy him a drink at the Saturday Social.


Wildlife Presenter Nick Baker confirmed as keynote speaker at the Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2012

Keynote Speaker - Nick Baker

Sunday 30th January - ‘Tales of Scales. Beyond the pond – The trials & adventures of an amateur herpetologist.’

Download the programme

The wonderful Nick Baker, (Herpetofauna fan and an all round good bloke) will be rounding off the Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting on the 28th to 29th January 2012

Wildlife presenter Nick Baker has agreed to be the key note speaker at the national Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting 2012. The national meeting for Amphibian & Reptile Workers in the UK is taking place at the International Centre in Telford. It is described as the meeting to find out the latest about amphibian and reptile conservation in the UK and beyond.  The meeting is in partnership between the ARG UK panel, its local groups and the national charity Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. It promises to be an excellent meeting of talks, presentations,the welcomed comeback of the infamous 'Have I Got Newts for You'  the herpetological quiz with a difference, workshops topped off with a speech by Nick Baker.  Nick will be joining the meeting on the Saturday evening and will then be the rounding the weekend off the meeting to really lift people's spirits for the up and coming survey season.

If you are a member of an Amphibian & Reptile Group or a friend of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, or student you get both days for just £91.00! - the deadline for registration at this rate is 9th January 2012. 

(excluding evening meal & accommodation)

For more information 
Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Get ready for the Big Spawn Count 2012!

Our partners Pond Conservation & Amphibian & Reptile Conservation and ourselves have joined forces to launch the Big Spawn Count 2012!


from Pond Conservation's website - the Big Spawn Count 2012

'The Big Pond Dip and Thaw surveys have given us a lot of new information about garden ponds. Now we are working with our colleagues at Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) and Amphibian and Reptile Groups of UK (ARGUK) to find out more about the number of Common Frogs breeding in garden ponds.

Common frogFemale frogs can produce several thousand eggs bound together in a clump of spawn. Since each female frog usually produces one clump of spawn, it is possible to estimate the numbers of breeding females from the number of spawn clumps. In this first year we are asking you to try out this new survey – which, as it develops, will also give us a crucial insight into the numbers of frogs breeding in garden ponds.

You can take part in our Big Spawn Count by going to your pond and counting the number of spawn clumps present. The timing of spawning depends on temperature, so, although as a rule of thumb spawning starts in the SW England and W Wales in early January, and moves eastwards and northwards, in a warmer year it may be earlier.'

Big Spawn Count online recording form

Twitter - #BigSpawnCount2012

ARG Today 10 available to download

The winter newsletter of the ARG network has now been published and is available - pdf ARG Today 10 - Winter 2011/2012 .


Reviews of the Winter Edition of ARG Today

'It was Fantastic!! Every article was totally absorbing from Tony's straight talking opinion piece, through the chytrid and research articles, to the local ARG reports at the end.
And I absolutely loved reading Trevor Beebee's paper review - it's great to connect with the world of science - 
I read it avidly. Looking forward to the next edition already!'

Rachel Hardy Biodiversity Officer, Eastleigh Borough Council Jan 2012

'Hi , just a brief note to thank you for putting together the excellent newsletter – it has been out a while but I’ve just got to read it. great updates on current activities, I really appreciated Trevor Beebees super section summarizing scientific papers- most of us don’t have the time or intelligence to read and understand the papers and his summaries were bite sized and very user friendly so please keep up that content.

Great stuff Thanks'

Des Sussex Land Management and Conservation Lead Adviser - Surrey, Berkshire and London Team, Natural England Jan 2012

If you have any news on any activities in the UK relating to amphibian and reptile conservation please send it to the editor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

47 ponds in the #50pondchallenge

The Essex ARG can report that 47 ponds have filled with water this December. Plenty of rain has fallen this Christmas week and most of the holes dug in October have now filled with water. Here is just  few photos of the ponds. The dragonfly shaped pond looks awesome!

IMGP2506 IMGP2500

IMGP2499 IMGP2497

From notepads to iPads - Download this wonderful recording guide to the UK's amphibians & reptiles

HerptileId_Icon_1Recording and identifying amphibians and reptiles goes mobile!

Isoperla Ltd has worked with Amphibian & Reptile Conservation to upgrade their award winning smartphone application HerptileId: 

The application is available for use on iPhones, iPod touch and iPad. 

Herptile Id is an easy to use but comprehensive field guide. All native species and introduced species are covered. 

You can keep a log of reptile and amphibian sightings using the app and take a photograph too. Reptile and amphibian sightings provide important conservation information and this can be sent in real time to the ARG-UK Record Pool database automatically from the app. This information will be used to help conservation of our native species.

Rated as No3 of the top ten smart phone apps by BBC Countryfile  


Download Amphibian & Reptile Conservation's guide to the UK Herpetofauna developed by Isoperla Ltd which is available through the iTunes Store today!

Demos of the HerptileId application on the iPad & iPhone

Ipad Demo 

Iphone Demo 

ARC Trust

South West Regional Meeting - Raising the profile of reptiles

Regional Meeting - Raising the profile of reptiles

The South West Regional Meeting of the ARG UK was hosted by Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group (DRAG) on the 10th December. The meeting kicked off with a county round up from the region's ARG's. Avon, Devon, Somerset and Cornwall groups gave presentations on their activities over the last year. Plenty of activity in all the region from swabbing amphibians for the Big Swab 2011, toads on roads, reptile rambles, a proposed sand lizard project, monitoring smooth snakes with the RSPB were some of the highlights of the region. 

DRAG_round_up Nicky__Jenny

The meeting then went into a variety of interesting talks on the national Make the Adder Count project, reptile survey methods, slow-worm translocations, Devon's elusive great crested newts, public access and reptiles, and a round up of the first three years of the Million Ponds Project. During the lunch hour the seminar of 'Raising the profile of reptiles in the South West'. The discussion was heated in the room and a variety of issues were discussed and the most important issue for reptiles were with planners and land managers. The suggestions were noted and an advice note or rather an action note will be published for the south west.

The day was finished on the prize draw of the raffle and the spot the difference quiz. All in all the day was a real success and just what can be acheived by local groups on the ground working for Amphibian & Reptile Conservation in the UK.

The next regional meeting is rumoured to be in Cornwall in 2012.

The next meeting on the calendar is the Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting in Telford - January 2012.


Making the Adder Count in Essex......

Matt Baker talks to Jon Cranfield at Mersea Island

In April 2010 the countryfile team visited Mersea Island in search of the elusive adder. Dougal Urghart the country park warden helped Matt Baker to find a lone adder in sub optimal conditions. A further piece on how the country park was helping the adder population by creating a suitable overwintering habitat. 

The hibernacula was created by hand and consisted of a large pit of approx metre deep, 2 metres wide and 5 metres long. The pit was then lined with shingle/pebbles and then was built up with logs, brash and wood chips. Plastic pipes were positioned into the new bank and was then covered in the soil created from the digging (thanks Dougal)

Check out Dougal's Blog for the story on the Adder Hibernacula

Dougal has reported through the Make the Adder Count Project that he has seen one adder basking on the new bank and at least 4 adders have been using the bank during the spring in 2011.

Adder Hibernacula in July 2010Female adder Cudmore Grove Country Park

The hibernacula was spotted by a RAUK member in July 2010. The Essex ARG will be visiting the bank in the spring 2012 as part of the Make the Adder Count Project which will be relaunched at the Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting 2012

Online Chytrid Survey - RACE

Online Chytrid Survey

To all amphibian enthusiasts out there - we would like your help with a questionnaire on Chytrid, which is being organised by Race, a pan-European network of scientists who are working to assess the potential risk of Chytrid to European amphibians.

The UK group is based at the Institute of Zoology, and many ARGUK volunteers have worked with Freya Smith collecting samples for the Big Swab.  As a part of the European study RACE have put together a questionnaire aimed at different target groups who are associated with amphibians. The questions relate to species/species groups, volumes, husbandry practices and bio-security, as well as personal views on handling wild amphibians. They hope to collect sufficient data to give a perspective on knowledge of chytrid fungus at a regional, national and international level (focus countries: France, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland). They hope that this will also inform EU policy, so the more reliable data the better.

This survey itself is anonymous (the provision of personal/institutional details is optional). Retrieved data will be used exclusively for scientific purposes and will not be circulated. As soon as the study is completed, all data will be erased.

For more information go to:


The South West Regional Meeting Programme finalised


Photographs - South West Meeting - Somerset 2010 - Chris Gleed-Owen (left) & Freya Smith (right)

The South West Regional Meeting of ARG UK  promises to be a day of brilliant talks on reptile and amphibian conservation in the South West. A different format has been put together which includes a round of news from the ARG's in the South West and a lunch time seminar 'Raising the profile of reptiles in the South West'.

Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group are this year's hosts and the meeting is being held 

Saturday 10th December 2011
Coaver Club, County Hall, Matford Lane, Exeter, Devon County Council, EX2 4PS

Please download the programme and booking form
ARG members - £20.00 others £35.00

Power to the People, Power to the Frogs! at OccupyLondon


If you wander along the artwork, banners, art installations and the many messages plastered over pillars and the nearby buildings at the Occupy London Protest site (otherwise known as #OccupyLSX) you may notice makeshift posters highlighting the plight of UK wildlife. Probably a strange place for such messages to appear. It was refreshing to see amongst the socialist, anarchist proverbs and other statements against corporations, banks and society.

The posters are printed on paper and placed into plastic folders taped onto the walls of buildings and pinned to the street trees around St Paul's Cathedral.  The animals featured include the small tortoiseshell butterfly and honey bee.  As I walked back towards the underground I spotted an amphibian poster - the common frog.  

The Campaign Against Urban Sprawl has adopted Nathan the Natterjack a species which is endangered in the UK and is apparently threatened by the government's plans for the National Planning System. The common frog is also threatened as it is widespread, it is declining and the animal and its habitat is not protected at all.

The common frog is the best known amphibian in the UK so perhaps a stroke of genius, on the part of the unnamed posterer, it brings attention to the lost of wildlife habitats in the UK. The common frog has suffered due to 70+ years of intensive agriculture which removed its breeding habitat from the heart of the countryside.

The solution as the poster says the frog needs 'a good supply of little ponds' and so does British freshwater biodiversity.  This tenuous link takes us to the Million Ponds Project by Pond Conservation. The project's aim is to bring back 600,000 ponds over 50 years. In the first few years of the project hundreds of ponds have been created with the help of various partners including local ARG's charities, nature organisations, land owners etc.

The ARG UK are developing a project for 2012 to dig a further 1,000 ponds over the UK using volunteers following the criteria set out in the Million Ponds Project Pond toolkit -

  • Clean water (rain fed)
  • at least 1m2 in diameter
  • filled for 4 months of the year
  • left to colonise naturally 
(it has to be said that no one from ARG UK have added these posters the protesters have put up them up we assume)

SAVE THE FROGS! finished in the Top 20 Leaderboard of the Chase Community Giving Contest

Save the Frogs win $25,000

SAVE THE FROGS! finished in the Top 20 Leaderboard of the Chase Community Giving Contest, earning us $25,000 for our worldwide amphibian conservation efforts.

Thanks to Chase Bank and the 2,343 people who took the time to vote for us and help spread the word!!

This extra funding will be of huge assistance on our quest to SAVE THE FROGS!, enabling us to ramp up our environmental education programs and our campaigns against pesticides, the frog legs trade, dissections and habitat destruction. That being said, this generous contribution from Chase Bank in no ways covers all the costs required to fix the massive amounts of ecological damage our society has already caused; indeed a scientific report from 2007 calculated that amphibian conservation efforts require at least 80 million dollars per year...and SAVE THE FROGS! operates on about one-thousandth of that. We have seemingly endless lists of progams we would like to implement that unfortunately still lack funding. So while this unexpected influx of $25,000 is fabulous, we still rely on your support now as much as ever.

Thanks again to all who helped us win this $25,000: the frogs thank you!!!

SKiM & Ipswich Wildlife Group celebrates victory in Kiln Meadow fight!

SKiM in victory to Save Kiln Meadow

There has been some exciting news regarding the possible sale of Kiln Meadow an important wildlife site which was threatened with development in 2008. This Tuesday the council revoked the agreement to sell the land after a long campaign by Ipswich Wildlife Group and SKiM Save Kiln Meadow. A petition was launched on Ipswich Council's website to try and get the council to turn the meadow into a Local Nature Reserve.

Jen Jousiffe has reported the following on the Save Kiln Meadow Facebook Page

'Mission (very nearly) accomplished!!!! If you' got a few minutes to spare, join us at 11a.m. today at the Marbled White Drive end of KIln Meadow.
Last night the Executive of Ipswich Borough Council decided to revoke the sale of Kiln Meadow. There wil now be consultations about the future of the meadow.'

The issue goes right to the heart of the future of the planning system especially as the National Planning Policy Framework consultation has just been completed and the new localism bill has become law.

The site is home to a variety of wildlife including three Biodiversity Action Plan species including toads, reptiles and dormice. The toad population was one of the largest populations in the country. Ipswich Wildlife Group took the council to judicial review.

News items

Newsflash - The chair of the Ipswich Wildlife Group will be interviewed on BBC Radio Suffolk in Spring Wood (an adjoining wildlife site) at 07.20am

Jen - 'Ray, the Chair of Ipswich Wildlife Group, will be in a live broadcast from Spring Wood on BBC Radio Suffolk tomorrow at about 7.20a.m.'

Find out more on the SKiM website and Facebook page 

'Making the Adder Count' in the South East & beyond!


The South East Regional Meeting for the ARG UK was hosted by Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group this weekend. The meeting was a huge success with over 100 attendees who were treated to adder conservation related talks and presentations from Kent, Surrey, UK, and in Europe.

The meeting was yet again a meeting which was has not been seen anywhere else in the world. An important meeting which really did grapple with the pressing issue of adder conservation in the UK and beyond. Further information will be released about the conclusions of the meeting and the way forward for protecting our only venomous snake -

NEWSFLASH the meeting voted overwhelmingly for 'naming the Adder as the most threatened reptile in South East Kent/UK...'

Please sign the petition on twitter 

SEE the PRESS RELEASE - Adders in Crisis - Nov 21st

More news 

Daily Mail - End of the adder? Britain's only poisonous snake is in danger of dying out, scientists warn
 (yes the adder is 'venomous' see if you could spot any other mistakes in this article)

More articles to be published very soon


The Herparazzi Episode 1 - Urban Dragons of the the Ruins

The Sticky Tongue Project Premiere Episode from our new, full-featured series, The Herparazzi.  Follow the Herparazzi team as they explore De Hoge Fronten, a collection of battlements that were built in the 17th and 18th century for the defense and protection of Maastricht, The Netherlands.
There, they found the last remaining and most northern natural population of wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) in The Netherlands.

Urban Dragons of the Ruins from The StickyTongueProject on Vimeo.

It's not just about the animals ... it's also about the adventure!

Final Programme of the South East & London ARG UK Regional Meeting

Kent ARG

The final programme of the Adder conservation themed regional meeting on the 19th November has been released. What promises to be a great selection of talks local to Kent, Nationally and on European propsectives on conserving the adder in the UK, France, Belgium and Switzerland.

Plus a roung up of what ARGs have been up to in the South East and London 

Download the programme

SE & London ARG UK Regional Meeting Final Programme

There are one or two spaces still available but please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for info.

50 Pond Challenge - ponds begin to fill


The ponds which were dug at Nevendon this October have started to fill with water. The clay is still quite dry but it is gradually getting soaked with water and at least a dozen of the ponds are jolding water. As the ground gets wetter we hope that the majority of the ponds will become full.

We hope to record the wildlife in these ponds and we hope to see frogs spawning in a few years time. We expect to see water beetles and other invertebrates quite soon. We are also interested to see whether pond plants move into the ponds. We will keep you posted.

Have a look at the project page to find out more 

50 Pond Challenge - Latest update on the ponds

NEWSFLASH - sadly the Guinness World Records did not accept our record application on the following grounds

'While we certainly do not underestimate your proposal, we do however think that this
item is a little too specialised for a body of reference as general as ours. Wereceive many thousands of record claims every year and we think you will appreciate that we are bound to favour those which reflect the greatest interest.'

We are claiming the record for digging the most ponds in 8 hours. However we have to wait for the ponds to form from the holes we have dug into the clay at Nevendon Nature Reserve.

Here are a few of the ponds this November, updates on their progress will be recorded over the next few years please keep an eye on this page to see the latest.




Remember, remember the amphibians on the 5th of November!

The Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation are asking bonfire night celebrators to look out for toads and frogs before they light their fires.Fire

Frogs"People tend to check for hedgehogs in the wood they have gathered for their fire," says Andrew Halstead, Principal RHS Entomologist.  "But it is equally likely that toads, frogs and newts will have found shelter in these piles and might be missed.  Toads and frogs play an important role as predators in the garden and should be encouraged."

Bonfire organisers can divert amphibians away from the bonfire site, and give them safe shelter, by:

-having smaller log piles

-creating heaps of leaves away from the main pile

In Autumn hedgehogs, frogs, newts and toads search for places to hibernate and piles of wood for bonfires can appear to be ideal hibernating spots.  All three charities advise that:

-fires should be built on the day that they are to be lit  

-wood piles made before this are fine but the wood should be moved to a clear, debris-free final spot only on the day

"Bonfire organisers can divert amphibians away from the bonfire site, and give them safe shelter, by having smaller log piles, or heaps of leaves, away from the main pile," says Morag Shuaib of The Wildlife Trusts.  "And before lighting the re-built bonfire pile, it is a good idea to make a final check by torchlight, to make sure nothing has sneaked in."

Remember, remember the amphibians on the 5th of November!

Thank you

Sophie Hinton

CLARE Project Officer


Amphibian and Reptile Conservation


London Wildlife Trust

Skyline House

200 Union Street

London SE1 0LX

switchboard: 020 7261 0447

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

mobile: 07810 184 501

On 7th July 2009, HCT became Amphibian and Reptile Conservation,

a new voice for conserving frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards.


Rearing Sand Lizards for reintroduction to the wild - From Fylde ARG

Male Sand Lizard
From the latest post from FARG
'In June 2010 I was asked to join the captive sand lizard breeding program. It was felt the amount of Merseyside animals being bred for release needed to be raised due to the large number of receptor sites. During the summer months I monitored the levels and positions of the sun in my back garden to establish the best position to build an outdoor vivarium. Ideally this would be a south / southeast facing part of the garden with the maximum hours of sunshine available. The best spot was found but the surrounding vegetation needed a bit of a haircut.
The enclosure was built to mimic as closely as possible an existing vivarium being used by a current member of the program. Based in the Lake District he has a great success rate working within the guidelines of the Captive Husbandry manual.
The next consideration after location is the size, biggest is best. The largest size possible was 12 ft. long x 5 ft. deep by 4 ft. high with a further 2 ft. being below ground level.
I started building the vivarium in February 2011and dug a hole to the above dimensions 2 ft. deep. This was filled with gravel 6 “ deep and then a breeze block wall was built to 4 ft. above ground level on 3 sides with the front being 1 ft. above ground level. Hard-core was then added to a general depth of 12” and additional contours were made to enable sand banks to be created. Sand was taken from the dunes at Blackpool airport along with marram and lyme-grass and habitat was created as close as possible to that found in a dune system. 8” wide plastic cladding was added to the top section inside the walls to prevent the animals escaping and the top and front of the enclosure was made safe from predators with 1“ x ½ “ mesh, there is a door at the front for access........
Read more on rearing sand lizards on FARG's blog
EggsHatchingHatchlings growingStill growing


The Sand Lizard Recovery Programme is lead by Amphibian & Reptile Conservation who employ a band of dedicated people who breed and rear on sand lizards in special enclosures to bring back the wonderful sand lizard to its former range and introduced to further sites to help conserve this wonderful jewel in the UK's herpetofauna. It is one of the most successful reintroduction projects in the world. Many organisations are involved including the British Herpetological Society, Chester Zoo, Marwell Zoological Park, and many others. 
You too can help by donating to Amphibian & Reptile Conservation so that they can keep this important conservation project going well into the future. We would also encourage people to go and contact your local ARG to also help with local conservation on the ground
Please donate

Deadly Days Out in Devon 30th October 2011

30 October 2011: South West – River Dart Country Park, Devon

The Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group will be at the Nature Zone tent at the Deadly Days Out Roadshow. Vice Chair of ARG UK Jon Cranfield will be displaying native reptiles, amphibians alongside some more exotic looking creatures for the kids to see and handle. A wonderful day out for kids excited by nature. A further piece to film will be recorded during the day. Sadly Steve our resident slow-worm could not be found for the event at the River Dart Country Park on the 30th October. The large male slow-worm was probably going into hibernation. Around 6,500 children and their parents came to see the Deadly Days Out roadshow with a hefty queue for the Nature Zone Tent where conservation partners were situated for people to get to grips with live animals, craft activities and face painting.


Deadly Days Out

Deadly Days Out

Future Deadly Days Out Dates

6 November 2011: West Midlands - Monkey Forest, Staffordshire
Choose this event & apply for tickets
Closing date: 30th October 2011

13 November 2011: North West - Avenham Park, Preston, Lancashire
Choose this event & apply for tickets
Closing date: 6th November 2011

CLARE Project at the London WildlifeXpo 2011


Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, London Amphibian & Reptile Group, Greenspace Information for Greater London and London Wildlife Trust together as part of the CLARE project took the last of the season’s herps to the WildlifeXpo last weekend to raise awareness of the amphibians and reptiles who call the capital their home. We had a great variety of the city’s herps on display, including a large and beautiful grass snake which attracted many people’s attention including TV Naturalist Nick Baker (known for his love of herpetofauna). With over 2,000 visitors to the Xpo we’d like to say a big thank you to those who came along and gave us their sightings. They will be of enormous help in safeguarding a future for these fantastic animals in and around London...

Tell us your sightings online at

The Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting 2012

HWM2011_Nigel_HandHWM_06._Jim_F.jpg HWM_06._Mark_Sat_am._-2

The Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting in 2012 (#HWM2012) will be on the 27th - 29th January 2012 

If you only get to one 'herpetological' meeting in 2012, make it this one! The Herp Workers' Meeting 2012. All welcome, from the most experienced to the very newest. Professors to interested amateurs. A great series of sessions on amphibians and reptiles, loads of like-minded people, and at a great venue in Telford. (Yes, where they hold the International Tennis tournaments!) (Rick Anstis Surrey ARG)

More info & details as they emerge on this page please check back soon This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register an interest.

'Actually its a bit gobsmacking coming here, I don't think i have seen something like this anywhere else in the world' 
Trent Garner ZSL commenting on the Herp Workers' meeting in 2011

New wildlife education centre to open in Berkshire

Education manager makes a ‘slow' start at Berkshire's new wildlife centre 


September 2011. Lynn Hughes, education manager with the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, is discovering lots of slow-worms - some of the beautiful and amazingly lively wildlife that children will see at the Woolley Firs education centre.

Thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, Lynn is working with teachers from schools in nearby towns, including Slough, High Wycombe and Maidenhead, to develop creative and exciting programmes for their visits.

"Children who may never have got up close to butterflies, newts and slow-worms before will enjoy mini-beast hunts, pond-dipping and discovery trails through the orchard, woodland and flower-filled meadows," explains Lynn.

"We'll make sure children and their teachers have a rich and varied experience here linked to the curriculum, and we'll develop wildlife activities to do in their schools too. I'll be working with teachers to create exciting events to suit their specific projects and themes."

Education centre to open in April
The education centre, which is due to open in April, will be in a renovated stable block at Woolley Firs, a 30 ha historic farm on the western outskirts of Maidenhead. Follow the project's progress on

Lynn, who has 13 years' experience of environmental education projects in the UK and Africa, joined the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust earlier in September. "This is a fascinating project," she said. "A classroom in a renovated stable block, the traditional farm, and all the wildlife right here - it's such a great resource for local children to enjoy."

Heritage Lottery Fund
Funding for the Woolley Firs education centre includes a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and generous donations from Wildlife Trust supporters.

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, South East England commented: "Thanks to this project many hundreds of young people will be able to discover the wonders of nature on their doorstep which will aid biodiversity and environmental conservation in years to come."

The 50 Pond Challenge! Part II - the video (2nd edit)

Weekend of 22 and 23 October 2011Nevendon, near Wickford

NEWSFLASH - sadly the Guinness World Records did not accept our record application on the following grounds

'While we certainly do not underestimate your proposal, we do however think that this
item is a little too specialised for a body of reference as general as ours. We receive many thousands of record claims every year and we think you will appreciate
that we are bound to favour those which reflect the greatest interest.'

'Guinness World Records has absolute discretion as to which record applications areaccepted and our decision is final.'

It was a long shot and the idea was from the London Wildlife trust's bee hotel record that prompted us to try and get a record for creating one of the most important habitats for freshwater biodiversity - small shallow clean water ponds as found in the Million Ponds Project. We are claiming the unofficial world record for digging ponds by hand and we hope to encourage people to try and break our record for the good of the UK's freshwater Biodiversity. We will be back with a bigger grander idea for 2012. Hope you all enjoy the video and the series which will follow the progress of the 50 ponds in Wickford, Essex. 

50 Pond Challenge PRESS RELEASE 18th October 2011

Pond ConservationEssex ARGHerpetologic ltdAmphibian & Reptile Groups of the UK

Derbyshire ARG's Chris Monk talks to OPAL about how to help adders

vipera berus

Working with adders - Chris Monk discusses his work protecting Britain's only venomous snake

Chris Monk has been helping protect the British adder (Vipera berus) for many years. As well as being Britain's only venomous snake, it is also the most northerly distributed one. Unfortunately populations are in decline, but important progress is being made.

OPAL caught up with Chris to talk about his work with this well-known reptile and ask if there are any ways we can help protect it too.

Find out more on the OPAL NHM website 

#NPPF - bad news for reptiles and amphibians?

The National Planning Policy Framework - is it all bad news for reptiles and amphibians?

Cameron the Crested Newt

‘Yes’ I hear many of you cry – and in essence that is the problem with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the Government’s new planning proposals for England.  The headline messages are simply not strong enough in favour of conserving the natural environment and, partly as a consequence of this, the document reads like a developers’ charter.  Emphasising as it does the need for a strong ‘pro-economic growth’ agenda’, the current wording threatens to jeopardise large areas of our countryside and many of the ‘brownfield’ sites (derelict/ former industrial land) that are so important for reptiles and amphibians.

There are, however, some principles within the NPPF that we at Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), and others in Wildlife & Countryside Link, the NGO forum through which we do much of our campaigning work on Planning legislation and policy, do subscribe to.  We support Sustainable Development (with the emphasis on Sustainable!), we see a benefit in a more proportionate and locally accountable planning system and we see value in a ‘plan led’ approach that can define conservation as well as socio-economic objectives for an area.  The 58 page document is meant to be read and considered in its entirety – for those with the stamina to reach clause 163 there is a section on the Natural Environment and scattered through it are little nuggets that could give us hope, had we not been distracted by the less positive messageselsewhere.

ARC, through W&C Link, is actively campaigning to address some key over-riding issues, and in particular:

  •  the need for a clear and workable definition of sustainable development;
  •  that there should only be a presumption in favour of development that clearly accords with an appropriate definition of the term ‘sustainable development’; and
  • clear links must be made between the NPPF and the Natural Environment White Paper.

The Prime Minister has recently made a personal intervention and has emphasised his commitment to safeguarding our countryside – but we also wish to see wildlife conserved throughout England and not just in our designated National Parks.  For truly sustainable development to happen as a result of the NPPF, the whole document must reflect the fact that our long term economic growth relies on protecting and enhancing the environmental resources that underpin it, also paying due regard to social needs.  Without this basis, the presumption for ‘sustainable development’ will simply be a licence for ‘sustained development’.  The NPPF, as written, has rightly angered many environmental and local organisations and has sustained a barrage of criticism in the press.  Let us hope that the Government is listening and takes this opportunity to create a planning system that delivers truly sustainable development - a thriving economy alongside flourishing wildlife.  ARC will continue to campaign to try to make this happen.

The opportunity for Public comments continues until 17th October (see we would encourage you to have your say). 

Tony Gent

CEO Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Introducing the Sticky Tongue Project

The Sticky Tongue Project

The ARG UK is pleased to introduce the Sticky Tongue Project - for a while now these dedicated herpers have brought some amazing photos and films of amphibians and reptiles from their local area of the Netherlands. Their articles feature herpetofauna stories from around the world. It is well worth a read.

The project has recently visited the UK to film British snakes. A variety of different cameras have been used to capture unique footage and photos of many different types of amphibian and reptile. From yellow bellied toads to sand lizards and adders.

Sticky Tongue Project

A brilliant introduction to the team is this short film of a young smooth snake hunting lizards in the Netherlands. The species is also rare as it is in England. 

(warning - this shows animals, in this case young lizards, being eaten)

Volunteers in the UK are planning a future project with the Sticky Tongue Project in 2012 - more details will be released on this in the coming months.


Mini Documentary - Smooth Snake Special

Tadpoles Protect Themselves from Predators by Being a Not-So-Tasty Treat

You can find out more by visiting the Sticky Tongue Project Website

Campaign against Sprawl - Natterjack mascot

Herp conservationists might be interested to see that the natterjack toad has become the poster boy for the Campaign Against Sprawl.

The Campaign Against Sprawl is

We are a new campaign campaigning for a sustainable alternative to the government's national planning policy framework (NPPF).

a) An umbrella grouping of different bodies, with seed core funding and temporary staff secondments.The model would be Wildlife and Countryside Link.

b) A 'task and finish' campaign initially. If the campaign is successful the decision could be made at a future date to continue as a 'do tank' – see below.

c) Rather that individual members it would have supporters signing on through new media. The group would aim to spread through new media to the extent that traditional media would sit up and take notice – as with the recent Save Our Forests Campaign. There would also be local supporters groups at a town and village level. These would form the Campaign Against Sprawl Network. Existing groups could sign on to the network by supporting the national groups aims.

d) It would initially be registered as a company limited by guarantee with seed core funding provided by one or more of the founder groups.

e) The approach would take inspiration from American groups promoting 'Smart Growth' -such as the Smart Growth Network and the Congress for New Urbanism, the aim would be to promote a Smart Growth agenda rather than just a growth agenda.

f) It would publish research but would be more than a 'think tank' it would be a 'do tank' acting as a counterweight to the Policy Exchange's anti-planning agenda

The Campaign Against Sprawl has adopted the natterjack to illustrate its cause because....some more guff from its website.

Then add some comment - e.g. why the natterjack is/is not a good illustration of the issues at stake (this last point would distinguish you from Froglife who just recycle stuff with little ability to add to the story).

Herpetology Meeting for Scotland 2011

Scottish Frog Website

Clyde ARG are hosting the Scottish Herpetology Meeting in November this year. The programme is coming together and will be published soon on the Scottish Frogs website.

As it stands the following is planned

  • David Bell: Fife ARG: hands on conservation and surveying in his area (apparently very active there and most northerly GCN site)
  • Chris Cathrine: Buglife and Clyde ARG: Scottish grass snake ecology/ distribution/ surveying
  • Trevor Rose: BHS: Saving lizards in Montrose
  • Ben Ross: SNH: Legislation and poilcy surrounding herps in Scotland
  • Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust: natterjacks on the Solway Firth


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Reptile Mitigation Guidelines Published by Natural England

 Following consultation with ARG members, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation staff, ecological consultants and other volunteers at workshops at the Herpetofauna Workers' meeting the reptile mitigation guidelines have been published by Natural England (9th September 2011)


The link is:

Natural England welcomes feedback on this document, to help improve future versions.
Please send comments to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Living Church & Cemeteries Project Seminar - Wiltshire


Million Ponds Project - update Windy Bank in Lancashire


Pond Conservation had a brilliant week creating the first of the 3rd round Biffaward MPP ponds at the Forestry Commission site at Windy Bank in Lancashire

David Orchard, [the MPP] amphibian officer [ & chair of ARG UK], helped create a whopping 18 ponds providing new homes for our native amphibians - including smooth and palmate newts, frogs and toads, all of which have been spotted at this site.

Million Ponds Project Information

Note: that is a great number of ponds in a week! if we could create that many each week for a year that would be over 900 ponds. It just goes to show why people should support the million ponds project. Lets get thousands more ponds created in the wider landscape.

South East Regional Meeting 2011 now open for bookings!

London ARG

Book your place at the ARGUK SE Regional Meeting to be hosted by KRAG and London ARG at the Medway Campus of University of Greenwich on Saturday, November 19th. 

The programme is nearly finalised and will focus on adder conservation.  Highlights include a review of the ground breaking work in adder conservation taking place in both Kent and Surrey as well as presentations from KRAG's European partners, and the University of Basel.

We are now accepting bookings so don't miss out.  The cost is £10 for members of an Amphibian and Reptile Group and £20 for all others.  Price includes lunch and refreshments.  For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Download the booking form here.

SE Regional Meeting 2011 Book Form

Competencies for Species Survey (CSS)

It is very welcome to see that the IEEM in conjunction with Amphibian & Reptile Conservation have recently produced guidance sheets on the required knowledge and skills of professional consultants/ecologists to survey for UK Herpetofauna. In the series there are guidance sheets for

All the Competencies for Species Survey (CSS) are available to the public via the IEEM website and include a variety of different protected species which are often subject to surveys for development and other land use change projects

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management

Sand Lizards & Natterjacks on Alan Titchmarsh Show 5th September ITV

Some of the 'come back kings of the Natural World' [in the UK at least] were all sharing the limelight on the ITV Alan Titchmarsh Daily chat show (see ITV clip captures below)

Natter_Jack Sand_Lizard

See the show on ITV player forward onto 06.20mins to see the part about these animals 

Chris Davis from Amphibian & Reptile Conservation was on hand to explain why these rare animals are coming back from the brink in the UK.

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation have recently been releasing young sand lizards into the wild in England and Wales this autumn. Bringing more hope that further lizard populations will be established

Here is an example of a release of sand lizards on the Sefton Coast

Sand_lizard_release Sand_lizard_release_4 Sand_lizard_release_2

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation is the leading NGO for amphibian and reptile conservation in the UK.

Sand lizards back from the brink and...

...... into the Wild in England & Wales 

Male Sand Lizards (Amphibian & Reptile Conservation)

This week conservationists will be giving the UK's rarest lizard further helping hand in, which has been termed as 'one of the most successful reptile reintroduction projects in the world', It is all thanks to Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, and an army of volunteers who have surveyed, monitored and managed sites then reared and released these animals over many years.  The release of c.500 captive bred lizards into 7 sites in England & Wales this autumn has given a much needed boost to the animals fortunes in the UK.

There are ten captive breeding centres for sand lizards including Chester Zoo and Marwell Wildlife, New Forest Reptile Centre, Avon Heath Country Parkand thanks to funds from our 100% fund a merseyside captive breeding centre was established this year. 

Jonathan Webster, ARC Chair of Trustees said "We are delighted with the success of the sand lizard re-introduction programme. So far the partnerships have instigated 74 re-introductions to both dune and heathland sites in 12 vice-counties and restored the species to 7 of these. 80% of these have been successful or going well and more are planned for the future."

We have high hopes for this year's re-introductions as these large sites are well managed by our partners; Countryside Council for Wales, MoD, National Trust, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Bournemouth Borough Council, Waverley Borough Council. Ongoing surveys by trained site staff,  Amphibian & Reptile Group volunteers [among others] will let us know how the species is doing in the long term, and when they start to colonise new areas.

Local ARG groups are involved with monitoring sand lizard populations 

Baby sand lizards released this week
  • Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group

  • Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group

  • Hampshire Amphibian & Reptile Group

  • Cornwall Amphibian & Reptile Group

  • Devon Reptile & Amphibian Group

  • Merseyside Amphibian & Reptile Group

  • South West Wales Amphibian & Reptile Group

Please look up your local group contact to find out more 

If people want to find out more about our native amphibians and reptiles or can help with surveying and monitoring please contact us at the address' provided below.

Photo credits - male sand lizards (Amphibian & Reptile Conservation)

For further information contact:

Nick Moulton / Chris Davis, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, 01202 391319, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jim Foster, Natural England, 0300 060 1163, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Liz Howe, Countryside Council for Wales, 01248 387257, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Further news stories - 

Wildlife Extra - Rare sand lizards released back to the wild on Merseyside

Wales Online - Rare sand lizards to be released in dunes near Aberystwyth

BBC Mid Wales - Sand lizards bred at Chester Zoo return to Ynyslas

Wrexham Leader - Recovery scheme to release rare lizards back to the wild

First News - Britain's rarest lizards released back into the wild

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation is the leading NGO for amphibian and reptile conservation in the UK. 

CLARE Project @ the London Mayor's Thames Festival 2011

CLARE Project at The Mayor’s Thames Festival 2011

The Mayor’s Thames Festival is a huge free, outdoor arts festival that takes place along the banks of the River Thames each September. This multicultural event combines arts, music, dance, river races, carnival and foods of the world to celebrate the River Thames and London’s diverse communities and cultures.

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation’s CLARE Project will be taking part in this fantastic event and will be situated in The Blue Ribbon Village. The village will be located on and around Potters Fields Park, by City Hall and on the riverside walkway. This area forms the Festival's environmental zone and features activities such as pond-dipping workshops, bee-keeping, colourful flags by artist Shona Watt, music from around the world, art workshops and storytelling, a bar and food stalls and much more!

Sophie our CLARE Project Officer will be on hand with information about our native amphibians and reptiles, animals on display and the chance to record local sightings and get involved in this exciting new project. So come along and meet some of the cities scaliest Londoners!

For more information about the CLARE Project and other upcoming events click here

For more information about the Mayor’s Thames Festival click here

Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Job Opportunity at the ARC Trust

Sand Lizard

Job Opportunity with ARC based in Surrey - Field Officer

ARC is looking to appoint a Field Officer to help with our set of nature reserves in Surrey, Hampshire and Sussex. Based at the Surrey Office in Witley, the post is a full time, permanent position. Duties will include working as part of the small Surrey team working on our heathland reserves throughout the Weald. Experience and knowledge of heathland management is required, along with strong communication skills.

A full Job Advert is available to download here. Further information on the Job Description and Person Spec is available here. Click here to download an application form or contact Helen Wraight on 01202 391319 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request an application pack. Closing date for applications is Tuesday 6th September 2011. 

The Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust

Assessing population status of the great crested newt in Great Britain.

WILKINSON, J.W., WRIGHT, D., ARNELL, A. & DRIVER, B. 2011. Assessing population status of the great crested newt in Great Britain. Natural England Commissioned Reports, Number 080.

The great crested newt is strictly protected under EU and domestic legislation. The government is required to undertake surveillance to assess the status of the species, in terms of population, range and habitat. Recent attempts at assessing population status have been hampered by problems with survey data, in terms of coverage, age, resolution and the fact that most survey data are not collected in an effort-related manner. Problems have also arisen with determining which units (or “metrics”) to use to describe population status.

The current UK Species Action Plan lists country and GB baselines and targets for (i) number of occupied 10km squares, (ii) occupied vice counties, (iii) number of occupied ponds and (iv) number of ponds with Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) score >0.7. These were set out in 2006, based on the best available information at the time. The intention was that they would be amended as information and methods improved, hence the current project.

Here, the contractors sought to review existing information and develop new approaches to data analysis. The project focused on trialling modelling approaches, given that only a very small proportion of ponds has been reliably surveyed for great crested newts. Such a strategy was thought worthwhile as developing predictive methods could overcome the problems associated with patchy coverage.

The project is the most thorough attempt to date to assess the population status of great crested newts in Britain, and to explore the best ways to describe that status. The report estimates that there are approximately 61,000 ponds occupied by great crested newts (though with wide confidence intervals), of which only around 14,000 are in very good condition for the species. The modelling work demonstrates the patchy distribution of areas with high densities of likely occupied ponds. It also indicates that newts in Scotland are perhaps even more scarce than previously thought.

The report can be downloaded here: - Also from the Natural England Website

ZSL Adder Genetics Study - Video 'Hunting Adders in the Malvern Hills'

A vimeo video regarding the ZSL led study into the genetics of the Adder Vipera berus in the UK.

Many of the sites sampled were selected from the national dataset of adder sites from the 'Make the Adder Count Survey' which was launched in 2005. At the Herpetofauna Workers meeting this year the ARG UK awarded a grant of £500 to the adder genetic study through our 100% fund. Here in the video we join Nigel Hand (an adder expert) from the Herefordshire Amphibian & Reptile Team sampling adders in the Malvern Hills....

Thanks to the ARC Trust who shared this video on their Facebook Page & Twitter 

Proposed Update to the Great Crested Newt HSI guidelines

HSI Graph

Source:Lee Brady Recording Blog

Lancashire Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project Moves up a Gear

LARA ProjectNews has come in through Lee Brady's Recording Blog regarding the Lancashire Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project. The project is another example of how a project can develop from small beginnings to a much larger remit to benefit reptiles and amphibians in the local area. 

 LARA is keen to receive amphibian and reptile records from anywhere in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. For more information contact David Orchard (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


United Kingdon Turtle Code - ARC Trust download

ARC Trust

On 7th July 2009, HCT became Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, a new voice for conserving frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards

The UK Marine Turtle Code

Of the world’s seven marine turtle species, five have been recorded in UK waters. They are the leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, green and hawksbill turtles. The leatherback, the largest marine turtle, is the species most frequently recorded in UK waters. Leatherbacks have a flexible, leathery shell and are unique among reptiles in that they are able to metabolically raise their body temperature above that of their immediate environment, allowing them to survive in colder waters. Each summer leatherbacks migrate to UK waters where they feed on jellyfish. The other four species have hard shells and are less frequently encountered in UK waters, where they usually occur as stray juveniles carried by currents from warmer seas.

In UK waters threats include:
• Accidental entanglement in fishing gear. Although turtles
can dive to great depths, they become stressed and drown
when trapped underwater by fishing gear. Fishing gear
discarded at sea may also entangle and kill turtles.
• Marine litter, especially plastic, which turtles mistake for
jellyfish. Once ingested, plastic can block a turtle’s gut leading
to starvation.
• Boat collisions. Turtles often bask and must surface
regularly to breathe, leaving them vulnerable to boat strike.

Please download the Marine Turtle Code a publication by the Marine Conservation Society, with support from Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, Northern Ireland Environment Agency  


ARC Trust Turtle Code

CLARE Project Launch event

The ARC Trust's CLARE Project had a successful launch at Hutchinson's Bank Local Nature Reserve in Croydon on Sunday 31st July. The day was enjoyed by many local people who were willing to hand over records of amphibians and reptiles in their local area. In return the CEO of the ARC Trust, Tony Gent, treated everyone to a close up encounter with the UK's rarest reptile the wonderful smooth snake. Other animals on the day iuncluded a grass snake, slowworm and a large toad.  



For more details on how to help with the CLARE project please contact

Sophie Hinton

CLARE Project Officer, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

C/o: London Wildlife Trust, Skyline House, 200 Union Street, London SE1 0LX, switchboard: 020 7261 0447, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., mobile: 07810 184 501

The Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust

On 7th July 2009, HCT became Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, a new voice for conserving frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards.

“Whose been eating my tadpoles?”

Female_Newt_PC_NewsOne question that lots of people ask is - where have my tadpoles gone?

Of course, the reason that frogs lay so many eggs is that very few survive into adulthood, usually only a handful from each original clump. Both spawn andPC_Article_on_Frogsspawn_frogs
tadpoles are lost along the way through disease, predation, or simply too little food in the pond for them all to grow into froglets. Here are some of the reasons why so few often survive:

Environmental factors and disease

Not all spawn will develop into tadpoles, because some will be unfertilised, and some may be killed by late frost. There is also evidence that environmentally stressed spawn may be more susceptible to disease.
However, this is not usually a major problem for the population as a whole, because frogs lay far more spawn than is needed to maintain a healthy frog population.

Changes in tadpole behaviour

People often call us because their tadpoles are not moving when they first emerge, and they worry that they have died. In fact, this is entirely normal and within a few days they will wriggle off into the
submerged aquatic vegetation where they will graze on algae.

Once tadpoles have moved away from their spawn and become ‘free-swimming’, they often spend a good deal of time hidden away in vegetation etc. In
some cases tadpoles that have ‘disappeared’ have just become harder to find.


Ponds that provide a breeding site for frogs also creates a habitat for a host of other species, including some that happily eat tadpoles.

Fish: Fish are one of the top predators in your pond. Not only do they eat invertebrate animals, many also eat frog and newt tadpoles. For garden owners who want fish we recommend two ponds: a fish pond
(which will also contain wildlife) and a wildlife pond, so that the creatures that are most susceptible to fish predation have somewhere to survive. It is also possible to create refuges in your fish pond, by making densely vegetated shallow areas that the fish can't get to so easily. Your tadpoles, and many of your invertebrates, will be able to shelter there.

Invertebrates: A number of invertebrate adults and their larvae also see tadpoles as a source of protein. This again is entirely natural, and is part of the complex food web that exists within any pond. Large
invertebrate larvae such as great diving beetle larvae and dragonfly larvae, notably the hawkers and emperor dragonflies, are voracious predators and will happily attack a tadpole, or even an adult newt.
Invertebrate predators are also less likely to be deterred by toad toxins, so will also happily take toad tadpoles.

What can we do?


Pond ecosystems are extremely complex so trying to manage them in favour of a single species can be difficult and may have
unintended consequences. The best thing you can do to help frogs and their tadpoles is to be sure to provide a 'good' pond habitat: ponds with shallow,
warm water. If you are planning a pond you could design it with wildlife in mind. If you already have a pond there may still be things you can do to increase
its suitability for wildlife. For more advice and ideas have a look at our new booklet 'Creating Garden Ponds for Wildlife'

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Dr John Baker for his advice with this article.

adapted/revised article from 

Pond Conservation Summer Newsletter 2011

Essex Amphibian & Reptile Group at RSPB's Wallasea Island

RSPB Wild Outdoors Day 2011 Amphibian & Reptile Conservation at RSPB Wild Outdoors Day 2011 

The Essex Amphibian & Reptile Group attended the RSPB's Wild Outdoor event on the 30th July. The Wild Coast Project aims to restore the land back to a more natural marsh habitat for wildlife. The adder is one of the two reptiles found on the Island and the Essex ARg was keen to be involved with the project. The group provided information, to members of the public, provided by the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust, British Herpetological Society and Pond Conservation.

The main stars of the stall were the captive amphibians which were on display for the public to experience at close hand. A female great crested newt was displayed (under a Natural England License), alongside a common toad, a colony of yellow bellied toads and a young slowworm made an appearance on the reptile front. The yellow bellied toads were collected from a garden pond in Dagenham which are thriving and are going to feature in an update on non natives amphibians found in Essex.

If you have found an unusual amphibian or reptile in Essex or across the UK then please send in a record using the ARG UK Record Pool 

The Essex ARG are drawing up plans for an Island wide survey for reptiles in conjunction with the RSPB over the coming autumn and into next year's spring emergence. The survey is aiming to learn more about the resident adder population to help with the Wild Coast Project. An application to the 100% fund will be made to help with purchasing equipment for the survey. More details to follow in due course.

IMG-20110730-00978Common toad RSPB Wild Outdoors Day 2011


EARG - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


CLARE Project Launch Event- THIS SUNDAY!

The ARG network is pleased to support the ARC Trust's London Project to help amphibians and reptiles found in London. The project officer has sent this message about this weekend's launch event:

Supporting the ARC Trust

Dear All

I am pleased to announce the launch event for the CLARE (Connecting London's Amphibian and Reptile Environments) Project taking place this Sunday 31 July at Hutchinson's Bank Local Nature Reserve, Croydon from 11am–3pm.

Connecting London's Amphibian and Reptile Environments (CLARE)is the partnership project between Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (ARC), London Wildlife TrustGreenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL), London's Amphibian and Reptile Group (LARG) and London Essex & Hertfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Trust (LEHART), funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

In the spirit of this multi-partnership project; this event is being held at the Old Surrey Downs (Surrey County Council Project) open day along with the launch of the London Wildlife Trust's Thorn to Orchid Project. We hope to have some live animals on the day to raise awareness of the amphibians and reptiles native to London and to ask members of the public for their sightings.

This is an invitation to come along, join in the fun and learn more about the project and how you can get involved.

Hutchinson's Bank is next to New Addington, find its location here but for more information on public transport follow the London Wildlife Trust link to reserve information and follow the visit us link.

I hope that you will be able to come along but if not keep an eye on your emails and/or the CLARE page on ARC's website for any further upcoming events and opportunities which will be cropping up over the summer and autumn.

If you want to find out more about the project and/or events please do not hesitate to get in touch.

And please forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested.

Best wishes,

Sophie Hinton

CLARE Project Officer, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

C/o: London Wildlife Trust, Skyline House, 200 Union Street, London SE1 0LX, switchboard: 020 7261 0447, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., mobile: 07810 184 501

Supporting the ARC Trust

On 7th July 2009, HCT became Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, a new voice for conserving frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards.

ARG South East and London Regional Meeting 2011

The Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group is pleased to be hosting this year's annual regional conference covering the South East & London.


The day will include a regional round up by county, followed by an adder conservation symposium, including:

  • Setbacks and successes – tales from the field
  • Action plans for adder conservation – examples from further afield
  • The contribution of genetics to adder conservation
  • How do we take adder conservation forward?

ARG South East and London Flyer

£10 for ARG members; £20 non-ARG members

(tea, coffee & lunch included)


A full itinerary and booking form will be available from

1st September 2011 via

Job Advert - Natural England

Natural England




Senior Environmental Specialist (Amphibians & Reptiles)

  • Closing date: 1 August 2011
  • Salary: £30,275  - £40,550
  • Location: Flexible
  • Interviews start: 30 August 2011
  • Appointment terms: Permanent
  • Working arrangement: Full-time

Job Description

This role will provide Natural England with national expertise and thought leadership on matters relating to amphibians and reptiles and will contribute to wider thought leadership on the conservation of biodiversity. The post-holder will be responsible for developing, providing and applying the evidence and technical advice required to support the delivery of Natural England's objectives and will work across Natural England and with a wide range of external partners and stakeholders.

The Latest on Kiln Meadow, Ipswich


28th June 2011:

Last week's good news about the County Wildlife Site has been followed by the bad news that Redrow have won the appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, who have gone against Babergh DC and Babergh's legal opinion, and decided that the planning submission should be allowed depite some - as I understand it - procedural irregularities.

We also heard that there is to be a Public Inquiry, at Redrow's request. It appears that the matter has now been taken out of Babergh's hands, and will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate. We're just clarifying where to send letters objecting to the development - details to follow.

24th June 2011:

Great news! Spring Wood, Millenium Wood, Kiln Meadow and another area of grassland adjacent have been designated as a County Wildlife Site! This is recognition of the importance of the wildlife on the site. This is a great step forward, though it doesn't mean that Kiln Meadow is definitely saved as Redrow's appeal to the Planning Inspectorate is still in play. However Babergh District Council have a policy of not allowing development on County Wildlife Sites. Maybe we're getting nearer!

(If you're not sure what a County Wildlife Site is, have a read of this explanation)

Further reading - documents from the Suffolk CWS Panel:

Suffolk County Wildlife Sites

Reasons for extending the area covered by this County Wildlife Site

Map showing the area that is a County Wildlife Site

Note that the wet meadows the other side of Bobbits Lane is also a County Wildlife Site, although this isn't shown on this particular map.


From SKiM's Website:-

What can you do to help?

Tell councillors and MPs of your concern. If you live near Kiln Meadow, then contact local councillors David Busby and Len Johnson. Otherwise the best people to contact are the Council Leader and the Chief Executive of Babergh District Council (address: Corks Lane, Hadleigh, Suffolk, IP7 6SJ.).

Please report any interesting observations of wildlife especially Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species to the Suffolk Biological Records Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Sightings of rare wildlife in Kiln Meadow would be particularly valuable in support of our case.

If you're walking in or near Kiln Meadow and see workmen in the meadow, let us know!

Join our mailing list so that we can keep you up-to-date with developments - contact Jen Jousiffe: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 07879844939.

Conservation in action!!! - Sand lizards

(News from the newly formed Flyde Amphibian & Reptile Group)

FARG & new Sand lizard enclosure

One of the FARG members is a very experienced reptile specialist and has been involved with the conservation of Sand Lizards for sometime. So much so that he has been given a 

licence to breed them at home for the various current 'local' release schemes, North and West Wales and the Sefton coast. Members of FARG, BEAT Naturewatch, Fylde Naturalists Society and the Lancashire & Cheshire Fauna Society were invited to see his newly completed vivarium...a real labour of love involving the removal of over a ton of soil and bringing in almost 150 bags of sand!

Stars of the show were the two male and four female lizards. Looking at the picture you can see that one of the females is gravid with eggs. It is expected that the first clutch of eggs will be laid shortly. These will then be transfered to an incubator to given them optimum conditions for hatching and give the young lizards the best start in life. This involves finding a constant supply of live food from the garden. Bought in food could be used but as it is usually reared on little more than oats it is lackng in essential nutrients and vitams so crickets etc are kept for a while in a tank with fresh dandelions, carrots etc so that they absorb the essential minreals from them. 

The crickets etc can be dusted with a propriety vitamin mix but unless they are eaten straight away this rubs off as they crawl across the sand.

With good sumer weather a second clutch of eggs could be possible.

We wish Ray every success wth this scheme.

See their blog post on this important project

The ARG UK 100% fund contributed towards the cost of the vivarium this year and we are very proud to be supporting local experts in the network. The project is vital for the conservation of the Merseyside Sand lizard populations which will be bolstered with new hatchlings over the coming years. The ARC Trust are the leaders in this field and are very much involved with this new project and are advising Ray on the care of his new captive population of sandies.

Check FARG's website for further information

Female sand lizard eyeing up spider

Male sand lizard in enclosure

South West Regional Meeting Date Confirmed!

The South West Regional Conference for ARG UK will be on the 10th December 2011

DRAG are hosting the 2nd South West Regional Meeting for the ARG UK and the venue is the Coaver Club, County Hall, Exeter

Volunteers are welcome to help organise and run this event.

Contact email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

That's in addition to the South-east Regional Meeting on 19 November, hosted by Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group at Chatham Maritime Campus (University of Greenwich) with an adder theme.

The Big Swab Update June 2011

Dear Swabbers!

Very many thanks to all those who have now completed their swabbing missions. I know it hasn't been an easy year for it (I've been thoroughly confused by the weather so I can't imagine how the amphibians are feeling), and I know that in some cases, collecting the samples has required monumental effort. I am very much looking forward to adding up all the man hours involved. I think it is going to be rather staggering (maybe we can casually drop figures into conservations with mammal folk, or the bird people – did I just say that?).

At this end, we have started getting samples through the lab. It is going to take a good few months of dedicated lab time to get through the pile though. I think initially I estimated results would follow within a year of the survey. I'd really like to make it more like 6 months, but I'll keep you updated.

In terms of collecting more samples, we are now entering the last two weeks of survey time. We have until the end of this month to do the last of the surveys, so it is a final push and then time to reflect on what a brilliant job everyone has done.

A few important points:

If you have swabs lurking in your fridge, please do send them in to me so I can update which sites have actually been completedIf you haven't been able to carry out your survey, please drop me an email and let me know. If you could let me know the reason, that would be useful, as we can estimate how many surveys were void on account of ponds drying up etc. No need to feel sheepish if you just didn't manage to fit it in – time doesn't always stretch as far as we'd like and life is very proficient at delivering unforeseen circumstances. The swabs themselves, innocent though they may look, are actually rather expensive. I think we pay roughly 50p a piece for them. So, if you have unused swabs, I would be really very grateful if you could return them to me. It just means we can recycle them in future chytrid work. If you still have the stamped envelope I sent out with the kits, just bung them in there. If you are sending in some swabs but haven't managed to use them all, send back used and unused in the same envelope to make the most of the postage. If you no longer have a prepaid envelope (I do realise I should have mentioned this earlier), I am more than happy to reimburse any postage costs you might have.

It goes without saying (although it is usually a good idea to say it) that you have been a truly fantastic group of people to work with. I am deeply grateful to have had cause to do so, and I very much look forward to being able to share with you the fruits of your labours.

All the very best for now and as before, any questions do let me know


Freya Smith BSc MSc BVetMed MRCVS
PhD Student 'The Epidemiology of Amphibian  Chytridiomycosis in the UK'
Institute of Zoology
Wellcome Building
Outer Circle
Regent's Park
London NW1 4RY
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

West Kent reptile surveyors wanted!

Could you spare a few hours a month to survey for these elusive creatures?

As pressure on their natural habitat increases, it is becoming ever more important to conserve these beautiful animals. Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group (KRAG) are recording the distribution and monitoring the status of Kent's reptiles.
By building up long-term records for key sites, an attempt can be made to safeguard them from development or mismanagement.

KRAG have identified several areas as potential key sites for reptiles. These include;

  • Cinderhill Woods, Matfield
  • Reynolds Lane, Tunbridge Wells
  • Barnett's Wood, Tunbridge Wells
  • Greggs Pastures, Tunbridge Wells
  • Bedgebury Forest, Goudhurst
  • Angley Wood, Cranbrook
  • Hurst Wood, nr Tunbridge Wells
  • Mereworth Woods, nr Maidstone
  • Heath Farm, Kings Hill

Ideally you would survey once a month in June, July and August and twice monthly in May and September.

If you are able to undertake any surveying please do get in touch with me at the Kent High Weald Partnership (details below).

Sarah Tree, Partnership Officer (Assistant), Kent High Weald Countryside Partnership, Conservation Centre, Bedgebury Pinetum, Bedgebury Road, Goudhurst, Kent TN17 2SJ

Tel: 01580 212972

'Linking community & countryside'

Regional Meetings

Although autumn seems a long way off, plans are underway for regional meetings.

Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group is hosting the South-east meeting on 19 November at Chatham Maritime Campus (University of Greenwich) with an adder theme.

Devon Reptile & Amphibian group will be hosting the second South-west meeting at a date to be arranged in November (DRAG - Newsletter May 2011).

Essex ARG is considering a conference for Eastern England, possibly in October.

Thanks to everyone organising these meetings.

New Publications

Some new publications that may be of interest:

The Private Life of Adders by Roger McPhail published by Merlin Unwin books.  Hardback with lots of nice photos. 

The Amphibian Habitat Management Handbook published by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.  Sister publication to the Reptile Habitat Management Handbook. Available from ARC or you can download a low resolution copy from the ARC website.

Creating Garden Ponds for Wildlife. A 32-page, A5 booklet produced by Pond Conservation and sponsored by World of Water.  Readable on World of Water's website.  Paper copies also heading out to ARGs.

And there's an article on striped grass snakes by Darryn Nash in the Herpetological Bulletin (Spring issue) available to BHS members.



Sand lizard enclosure progress 2011

A report on the progress on the new vivaria being constructed in Merseyside to captive breed one of UK's rarest reptiles, the sand lizard, for release in the local area. The captive breeding programme is one of the most successful reptile reintroduction projects in the world and has been coordinated by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation as part of the Natural England sand lizard recovery programme.

The ARG UK was very pleased to be able to support the purchase of materials to build a new home vivaria where sand lizards collected from the wild could be bred to produce healthy young lizards for reintroduction. The funds were provided to the Merseyside ARG through the network's 100% Fund. People can donate to this pot of money reassured that it will be spent on practical conservation directly and is not used for staff, administration costs etc - it does what is says on the tin - providing herpetofauna conservation 100% of the time!

Other projects funded by the 100% fund

Adder genetics project - through the Suffolk Amphibian & Reptile Group

Pond creation projects - Manchester ARG and Essex ARG

We would love to hear from anyone who would like to have small grant for their project - grants up to £250.00 - in some cases more have been allocated in the region of £500 - £1,000 when the fund enables us to do so.

We are pleased to report that Habitat Aid are donating 50% if their profits from their sales of aquatic plants to the ARG UK - we are going to be putting this into the 100% fund to help with practical conservation which benefits amphibians and reptiles directly.


Herpetologic Ltd

CGO Ecology

others to be included here

The Big Swab 2011 - update in May 2011


To be added - news item about progress with one of the largest volunteer surveys into amphibian disease in the UK (if not the world)

The Great Easter Newt Hunt 2011 - Initial results

The latest results


Just over 180 records have now been collated as part of this years Easter Newt Hunt. A good spread of data has been collected from Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Scotland and even a few records from the Netherlands. We need to get hold of more records so please do make an effort to get to a local pond and use the online form to send in your records. Even if you do not see newts these negative records are just as important. We would also welcome photos of garden ponds to accompany the record you have submitted. An interactive map will be posted on the newt hunt website in due course and a final report will be produced at the end of the summer.

Follow all the latest through twitter @newthunt2011

The Great Easter Newt Hunt is brought to you by a partnership between:

ARC Trust & ARG UK

Join the Great Easter Newt Hunt 2011

from 22nd April 2011 until the 31st May 2011

Tick Bite Prevention Week 11th - 17th April 2011

Please find out more about badauk's tick bite prevention week 

Ticks carry harmful infections that can be transmitted to humans. It is estimated that each year up to 3,000 people in the UK contract Lyme disease (Borreliosis) from a tick bite.*

If you take part in outdoor activities or simply enjoy being in the countryside, or parks and gardens where wildlife is present, you may be at risk from tick bites.

This website aims to provide information that you, your family, public organisations and groups can use to reduce the likelihood of being bitten. We hope that you find it useful and we would love to hear your suggestions about how we can make it even better, or learn about your personal tick experiences. Contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

*Health Protection Agency 2008

The Big Swab 2011 - Press release 6th April 2011

 Toad task force

An army of volunteers will be wading into ponds across the UK to map the spread of a killer amphibian fungus.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are working with 400 volunteers recruited from the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG-UK) to swab more than 6,000 amphibians for the presence of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis).

Teams of volunteers will be heading out after dark between April and June to swab amphibians in more than

 200 ponds across the UK. The Defra-funded survey will include 100 more sites than the last chytrid survey in 2008, with volunteers in action in Northern Ireland for the first time.

In addition to sampling common toads, natterjack toads and the UK's three species of native newt, volunteers will also be swabbing non-native species such as the alpine newt and marsh frog. ZSL scientists are targeting new species and covering more locations in a bid to create a fuller picture of the UK's chytrid infection.

Chytrid fungus causes the disease chytridiomycosis, which results in the thickening of amphibian skin preventing the transfer of vital salts across their skin. Scientists are now racing against time to understand how the deadly disease is spread and what species are most at risk.

"Chytrid has had devastating effects on amphibian populations across the globe, even causing some species to become extinct. It is essential that we understand where the fungus occurs in the UK so that we can identify the toads and newts that are under threat from succumbing to the disease," said Freya Smith, scientific coordinator of the survey at ZSL.

Jonathan Cranfield, vice-chair of ARG-UK said: "The volunteers play a critical role in helping us to understand what is happening in our ponds. Ensuring the future of our best-loved amphibians would not be possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteer network."

The volunteers will collect samples of DNA from 30 amphibians at each site by swabbing the surface of their skin. The samples will then be analysed in laboratories at ZSL to check for the presence of chytrid fungus.


Press office contact: Victoria Picknell, 020 7449 6361 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Notes to Editors

  • Chytridiomycosis is a non-native fungal disease that infects the skin of amphibians, a vital organ through which many drink and breathe. It was identified in 1998 by an international team of scientists led by ZSL. It is believed to have originated in Africa, with the export of African clawed frogs around the world for human pregnancy testing and lab studies spreading the disease worldwide. Recently, the food and pet trades may have contributed to the problem as well. The disease is thought to have been responsible for catastrophic declines in some Australian, North American, Central American, South American and Caribbean species. The situation in Europe is less clear through a lack of data, although some species have seriously declined in upland areas of Spain.
  • Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats.  The Society runs ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide. For further information please visit or @zsllondonzoo 
  • Formerly the Herpetofauna Groups of Britain & Ireland (HGBI) the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG-UK) is the national network of county amphibian & reptile groups in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands. The network is made up of over 40 groups, and individuals acting on an entirely voluntary basis to provide on the ground conservation for the UK's herpetofauna (amphibians & reptiles) for more information please visit Check up on the progress of the survey on @ARGgroupsUK

The Big Swab 2011 - update April 2011

The toad task force - 

The ARG UK and its county groups are providing the people power to go and collect, sample over 6,000 amphibians this spring and early summer. The volunteer army is being mobilised to help sample amphibians across the UK for a deadly killer fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. The fungus is known from the UK and was found during the previous survey in 2008. The hard work by volunteers goes to show how important these partnerships can work to help scientists learn more about the issues facing the UK's herpetofauna (amphibians & reptiles)

Have a look at the press release which was sent out today (6th April) - ARG UK/ZSL the Big Swab 2011 

The Science news section of the ZSL website covered the techniques in a rather good video previously reported on during the March update for the #thebigswab2011

There is also more information on the partnership project The 2011 UK Chytrid Survey between ZSL, DEFRA & the ARG UK 

The latest update from Freya the scientific lead on this project is below:

870 swabs have been collected so far!

29 sets of swabs already back – all very exciting. Thank you so much (both to those who have swabbed and those with swabbing ahead of them).

The total number of sites is also fast approaching the target 200. We are still on the look out for extra sites in certain parts of Wales and Scotland, and in England:

  • Gloucestershire
  • Shropshire
  • Yorkshire
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Northumberland

so do get in touch if you think you could fill one of those gaps.

I am getting some feedback from surveyors on the size of gloves provided.... I had opted for the middle road and gone for medium gloves in the hope that they might stretch to meet all needs. Apparently not. If you think you might have problems with the size of gloves provided drop me a line and I will supply large gloves on demand.

Otherwise everything seems to be running fairly smoothly.

We have also had a little bit of press interest which is nice. Might be something to look out for on BBC Breakfast tomorrow (might not be).

Any questions, let me know.

In the meantime, very best spring wishes from me and hearty congratulations on a very impressive start to the swabbing season.


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The Great Easter Newt Hunt 2011 - launched

The long awaited moment has now arrived, and we are about to launch the Great Easter Newt Hunt

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and ARG UK are inviting the public to join the Great Easter Newt Hunt (any day between 22nd April and 2nd May) and help provide data to be used for newt conservation:

  • * Little is known about our most widespread newt species
  • * They are the least protected of our amphibians
  • * We need more information about them to plan for their conservation!

The project aims to find out about our most widespread newts - the smooth and palmate newts - and see how much they use Britain's garden ponds as habitat.

Participants are asked to spend just 20 minutes on one day over Easter counting the newts in their ponds. They can also record any other amphibians they see and find links to other surveys they can get involved in. Prospective newt hunters can find survey hints, ID information and submittheir results on-line at  and will be able to share the site with friends via Facebook and Twitter to get more people involved! We are trying to gather as much information as possible, so please get involved yourselves, and tell anyone else that you know that might be interested.


The Big Swab 2011 - update April 2011

Writtle College

It was an exciting trip to Writtle College on the 30th March. It was a little worrying during the daylight hours where preparations were made for filming an online guide to the UK Chytrid Survey aka The Big Swab 2011.


During the field visits to each of the pond various problems arose which conspired against the amphibian surveyors. The lack of sightings of live or dead toads which are normal at this time of year around the college gave the impression that it was likely that the toads had not moved to their breeding ponds and there was a good chance that there would be no amphibians to sample (what do they say about working with animals?).

The toad pond was located some distance from the college grounds and when we all arrived at the reservoir (home to an estimated 10,000 toads) no spawn was there and to make matters worse the field had a good head of cattle. Everything was fine until the cattle became much too interested and preceded to invade the filming area. We all retreated to the campus and made another trip to a different pond setting for our interviews.


It was onto the evening where it was supposed to be an easy affair catching 30 wet toads out a potential 10,000. Easy you would have thought? 

The first two ponds there were no amphibians. A terrestrial toad was found walking between the gardens in the college grounds. We made our way to the brook and we quickly spotted several toads sitting in this fast flowing stream/brook. The brook was surveyed over several hundred metres and mostly young male toads were captured and bagged ready for swabbing. The whole process was filmed by the Zoological Society of London.

17 toads were captured from the Brook. Onto the old moat where smooth, great crested newts and toads were all found. The great crested newts were not part of the survey - and so were left in their mating/courting areas. 8 male and 2 female great crested newts were spotted by torch light. 3 smooth newts and 10 further toads were bagged up ready for swabbing...... 

Thorndon Country Park

Members of the Essex Amphibian & Reptile Group on the same evening were also out this time in Brentwood. At Thorndon Country Park 40 palmate newts were captured and 30 of these were sampled using the swabbing protocols. Further surveys were carried out on other ponds close by and a mix of toads, palmate and great crested newts were spotted.



The Save Thriftwood Amphibians and Reptiles (STAR) joined the EARG to help with this survey. Afterwards the STAR group went over to check their toad/newt crossing. Steps are being taken to organise a toad crossing sign. This has to be done by the individuals organising the toad patrol. 




Back to Writtle College

....Meanwhile the process of taking the swabs, recording the data and releasing the amphibians back into the pond or stream (in this case) were recorded using both still and video cameras.


Look out for the news item on the ZSL website and hopefully on the local and national media from the 6th April (Wednesday).

Tally so far - Essex

In Essex the allocated sample sites have almost been completed. In addition to the 1 site sampled in 2008 a further 3 sites will be sampled. A palmate newt site, a toad site and a non native site are all going to be sampled. The palmates and toads have been taken care of, while the non native site will be a garden site with alpine newts.

If you would like to send in details of how your county is getting on with the allocated sampling then please do get in touch to let us know.

Tally so far - Nationally

Around 17 sites (possibly more) have been swabbed and this means that around 400 amphibians or so have been sampled with the Big Swab 2011n so far. It is thought that many of you have been out sampling and many more swabs are in the post back to Freya in London. We all hope that you are enjoying yourselves, keeping safe and getting this important project really moving. To our knowledge this sort of survey, which involves hundreds of volunteers, around 200 sites nationally and a target of 6,000 amphibians swabbed and sampled, has not occurred anywhere else in the world especially in relation to monitoring amphibian diseases. 


The 100% Fund contributes to the UK's first snake genetics study

The ARG UK network voted at this year's Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting to contribute much needed funds to the UK's first genetic study into snakes.


£500 from the 100% fund was awarded to the cutting edge study into the decline of the UK's only venomous snake the adder. The study is a collaboration between the Zoological Society of London, Oxford University and Natural England. The ARG UK was proud to help with the project by providing funds for laboratory equipment which enables the field workers to visit more sites to sample adders from small and large populations. The funds will help purchase the chemicals required to extract the DNA from swabs from the adders during the study this spring.

At the Herpetofauna Workers' meeting a meeting between three separate adder studies came together to discuss the way forward for adder conservation in the UK. The study being carried out by The Zoological Society of London, Oxford University and Natural England forms part of a series of studies into the adder. Other studies are taking place at Manchester University and Bangor University. All the studies have ARG UK support and local volunteers are assisting with the studies.

Press Releases: 

Media Links:



Environmental Banking - Concerns over recent London Gateway reptile translocation


ARG UK's Position on Environmental Banking

Press Release - March 2011



Road salt implicated in mass mortality of great crested newts

In late March 2010, approximately 75 great crested newt carcasses were found in a railway station car park in Cumbria; the newts appeared to have died during their spring migration from nearby hibernation sites on their way to a large breeding pond behind the station. 


Road salt had been laid in the car park two weeks previously, during an unusually late period of freezing weather, and there was circumstantial evidence that residual road salt in the car park had caused these newt deaths. The incident was recently described in the Veterinary Record (Duff, J. P., Colvile, K., Foster, J., Dumphreys, N. Mass mortality of great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) on ground treated with road salt. Veterinary Record 168 (10) p.282).

There are a few anecdotal reports of UK amphibian mortality associated with road salting, and salt treatment of ponds. As in this case, incidents tend to occur when an unusually late period of freezing weather is swiftly followed by much milder temperatures. We would like to raise awareness of the apparent potential for road salt to negatively impact amphibians, and recommend that judicious caution is exercised in the use of road salt near amphibian migration routes, particularly in March and April; road maintenance contractors should be aware of this risk.

We would be interested to hear about any future incidents of suspected salt poisoning: please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Paul Duff (Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Penrith), Katie Colvile (Zoological Society of London) and Jim Foster (Natural England, Peterborough)

The Big Swab 2011 - news update March 2011

First samples (from London, Herefordshire & the South West) for the Big Swab 2011 

Freya Smith can report that the first set of samples have been collected this weekend from the South West (Devon) London (Richmond Park) and Herefordshire - Freya has been leading a chytrid swabbing workshop organised by DRAG  . The course had lovely weather and plenty of sites were signed up for the Big Swab 2011. The course collected and sampled 30 amphibians using the new protocol using sandwich bags which is intended to prevent cross contamination between the collected animals. 

If you would like to get involved with sampling amphibians in your area please contact your local ARG to see whether a swab is being organised locally. If you would like to suggest a new amphibian site please do read our Chytrid Survey 2011 project page  and please contact Freya Smith This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

South_west_big_swab_20th_March_1South_west_big_swab_20th_march_2 South_west_big_swab_20th_march_3South_west_big_swab_20th_march_4



A visit to Cornwall ARG 12th March 2011

Cornwall ARG Meeting 12th March 2011

I visited the Cornwall ARG last Saturday to give a presentation on the ARG UK and talk about the Make the Adder Count Survey 2011. The MTAC survey was started in 2005 and has collated count data on adder populations across the UK. In the South West the adder colonies were not well covered so I wanted to give an overview of the project and to encourage CARG members to monitor their local adder populations.

The meeting was great we met at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust HQ at Five Acres Reserve and the meeting started with an introduction to the ARG UK and a run through of the ARG website. Following the Adder talk the meeting went through the to do list which Mark had put together for 2011. Items included sand lizard monitoring with the ARC Trust, European Water Frogs in Newquay and Padstow, events and the big one the regional meeting for the South West in 2012. It is pencilled in for the Cornwall group to host the regional meeting.

Following the meeting and after lunch. A few of us went to look for adders at a local reserve in Cornwall. We headed to Helman Torr/Breney Common  

The weather was against us from the start - not idea weather for finding adders - much too cloudy and cold 

However we found some great ponds and signs of frogs and toads in many of the ponds. Checking the artificial refugia we did find at least 3 toads. The ponds were created from local mining activities - the ponds are known as 'Tin streaming' ponds. It is where the sand/soil is sifted for metals creating workings which fill with water and create an interesting pond.

The ponds were very clean - 0.08mS conductivity and surprisingly the water was also neutral at just over 7pH

Photos of the field visit



(Photos from top - Helman Torr rock formation, tin streaming pond, frog spawn, terrestrial toad and toad spawn)

A big thank you to Mark who organised the meeting and took time to take me round the reserve. I do hope that the Cornwall Group goes from strength to strength and I look foward to visiting again in the not too distant future to find some Cornish Adders and track down the source of the European water frogs which are turning up in North Cornwall.

Jon Cranfield

Vice Chair ARG UK

The Big Pond Thaw 2011 (Pond Conservation)

A message from Pond Conservation:-

A big thank you to everyone who sent in Big Pond Thaw survey results.

Pond Conservation have received over 700 responses from all over the country this winter - from Brighton on the south coast, to Cromarty in the north of Scotland.

Pond Conservation staff are now busy analysing the results, and will produce the final survey report at the beginning of April.

For a quick sneak preview.....

.....the vast majority of people who reported amphibian deaths found dead Common Frogs – a smaller number found dead Common Toads, then Smooth and Palmate Newts, with a handful reporting dead Great Crested Newts.

Some people lost a lot of amphibians – the worst report we had was of 150 dead frogs - but most people reported finding between 1 and 5 dead animals.


Check the Pond Conservation website for the very latest on this important garden pond survey

The Crested Newt – A Dwindling Pond Dweller

The Crested Newt – A Dwindling Pond Dweller

The new BHS book

by Robert Jehle, Burkhard Thiesmeier and Jim Foster.

The beautifully presented book is a 'must read' for all those interested in the evolution, ecology, behaviour, conservation and management of crested newts. It contains 145 pages, 16 colour plates, and approximately 80 figures and tables.

£20.00 incl. p&p



Download document The Crested Newt – A Dwindling Pond Dweller  order form

Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting inspires ARG establishment

Hertfordshire becomes the UK's newest ARG!

The 2011 Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting in Cardiff provided the inspiration for establishing the UK's new Hertfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group. As always, this excellent conference allows the annual get-together of 150 people from county ARGs across the UK, and this year's meeting provided an inspiring set of talks and workshops over two days.

There has never been an ARG group dedicated solely to the county of Hertfordshire. The wildlife charity LEHART covers the counties of London, Essex and Herts, and has a herpetofaunal focus, but it was felt that there was still room for a Herts-based ARG to generate more volunteer interest in amphibians and reptile across the county. Enthusiastic founder of HARG, David Willis, said "The minor problem I have is that there is no existing Herts ARG, and so the new website would have to be as much an appeal for interested members as anything, with a list of sites and tasks to be updated over time, and hopefully links to any organisations that want to be included."

So please do consider joining Herts ARG by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and get your name added to the email circulation list. A Yahoo Group may also be formed in due course, to allow posting of news, ideas, photos etc.

Source: Hertfordshire ARG

The first frog spawn has hatched?

Pond Conservation is asking whether anyone can beat the first spawning date for the Common frog Rana temporariataddies_in_garden

The first date, according to Pond Conservation ,was the 5th February 2011, however earlier dates have now been included - 8th January, and even the 2nd January on Natures Calendar

On twitter land the ARG UK can now report the first date for free swimming tadpoles!

According to @CornishTartans their tadpoles were free swimming on the 19th February - The spawn arrived on the 31st Jan/1st Feb so the tadpoles took around 18 days to hatch.

Can anyone beat this observation? do people keep watching their spawn clumps to see when the tadpoles break free from the jelly surrounding them?



Reptile Environmental Stewardship Leaflet


Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has just produced an advisory leaflet targetting reptiles in Environmental Stewardship schemes. The leaflet Selecting Environmental Stewardship Options to Benefit Reptiles summarises reptile issues relevant to those involved in agri-environment work and folds out into a poster.  It complements two other leaflets, addressing great crested newts and natterjack toads, and all are available from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.  

The reptile leaflet is also available as a download from the external publications section of the ARG UK website.

Save Kiln Meadow (SKiM) gets court hearing....

Save Kiln Meadow (SKiM) gets court hearing

SKiM campaigners outside the council

Save Kiln Meadow (SKiM) a campaign by the Ipswich Wildlife Group have successfully convinced a judge in the High Court that there is a case against the decision by Ipswich Borough Council to sell off an area known as Kiln Meadow.  Babergh District Council had given outline planning permission for a housing development despite the concerns over the impacts on one of the largest toad populations recorded in the Toads on Roads campaign. 

In a recent case in which the Local Government Ombudsman reached a 'local settlement', Babergh District Council (BDC) were found to be 'at fault' in failing to take wildlife and biodiversity legislation into account when granting outline planning permission for an area known as Kiln Meadow a very key toad habitat among other protected species, part of the Thorrington Hall development. (Planning application number B/02/01984). (Story so far on

The developers Redrow have submitted a plan to build 94 houses on the meadow. After taking legal advice, the planning authority, Babergh, has refused to register this plan. Redrow has also taken legal advice and discussions between Babergh and Redrow are ongoing. It is possible that the planning delay has been caused by the Judicial Review Process. The legal challenge has profound implications in relation to the NERC Act which puts a legal duty on Local Authorities to consider Biodiversity. The Toad Bufo bufo is now listed under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan as a priority species due to its decline in Southern and Eastern England.

Toads on Roads or toad patrols were initially started by ARG Groups in Surrey. Toads on Roads is the campaign title which hundreds of volunteers work under during the spring migration of toads to their breeding ponds. The obstacles of roads means that many get squished by traffic. Toad crossings are registered by the Highways Departments of the different areas. The campaign is now coordinated by the charity Froglife, many toad patrols are maintained by independent volunteer and ARG groups. The Bobbits Lane/Kiln Meadow Crossing is ranked at one of the 3rd highest in terms of 'collected toads' in 2010 - 7,000 toads were rescued from the road over the spring migration.  Advice for planners has been produced by the ARC Trust - Toad Advice Sheet for planners

Top five sites in 2010

  1. Henley-Marlow - Bucks - 10,501 toads
  2. West Stow - Suffolk - 9,053 toads
  3. Bobbits Lane (Kiln Meadow) - Suffolk - 7,000 toads
  4. Charlcombe - Avon - 3,380 toads
  5. Rumwell - Somerset - 2,857


Contact - SKiM

email Jen on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or ring 07879844939.



Websites for local groups go live!

ARG UK proud to launch group websites in 2011


The ARG UK has a new website and the panel has ploughed in with providing free websites for the groups in the network. Several have now gone live and can be accessed through our local group listing page. It was very important to the ARG UK panel to provide services to the groups within the network including:-

There are many active ARG's who maintain their own websites and do a fine job of getting the information about their group, activities and news on the internet. The ARG UK wanted to provide assistance to new groups and groups who have not managed to get a website up and running. Being a volunteer network (of groups and contacts) it is not always possible to follow the trail blazers who have long established websites. The ARG UK felt that responding to our groups/volunteer suggestions for new websites and online recording would be a fantastic approach in 2011 to enable much more to be done in the name of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation in the UK.

The first few have been added after the group's review

Examples to date include

More will be added over the coming week as ARG's review their information, add photos and news about their activities in 2011.

If you are member of ARG which needs to get a website up and running then do get in contact Jon Cranfield 01962 733932 


Million Ponds Project - 2nd Year report has been published


MPP_Year_2The Million Ponds Project has completed the  pdf Million Ponds Project Year Two Report  

The project is going through the last of the current round of funding for year three which is now closed for applications. However 

·         The ARG network is a partner in the Million Ponds Project

·         Although the Million Ponds Project funds have all been allocated, ARGs still have access to help with pond creation projects from the ARG UK 100% Fund.

If you would like to donate money to the 100% fund please contact David Orchard (chair) - or to donate money to Pond Conservation please visit their online donation page 

How did amphibians fare over this winter?

The December freeze and amphibians

The big freeze has taken its toll on amphibians this year. A number of reports from around the UK have suggested that amphibians, particularly the common frog, have been unlucky under the ice on garden ponds this winter.

Jeremy Biggs on the garden pond blog reported the results which are coming in from the Big Pond Thaw Survey - the largest mortality of frogs was considered to be around 50 frogs/amphibians in Nottingham - 

The BBC's Nature UK blog has a photo of around 60 dead common frogs recovered from a pond in Hull on the 11th January

Another bad winter for amphibians? Photo: Mike Apps

Find out more on this blog post here 

Should we be concerned over these frog deaths? Pond Conservation is running a survey called the Big Pond Thaw 2011 which was initially launched in 2010 and is now being repeated in 2011 - This has previously reported on this website here 

Pond Conservation are investigating the ecology of garden ponds, how they can be better designed and looked after for the benefit of wildlife. The advice for looking after wildlife in iced over ponds been changed well 'myth busted' from the research collected in 2010. The criticisms levelled about the 2010 survey are being met by repeating the exercise in 2011. 

Update - Pond Conservation has received 250 forms so far for the 2011 Big Pond Thaw Survey - Please do download a form and send in your records!

January sightings of amphibians & reptiles

The first movements of amphibians and reptiles have been reported from Somerset, London and in December adders in Essex.

The WWT at the London Wetland Centre reported the emergence of a juvenile slow-worm and toad in the milder weather, toads have also been reported on the move in Somerset by local volunteers. WWT early slowworm Mike Caiden

You can see the photos of the toad found under a reptile refugia - a favoured shelter for toads - &

Reptiles and amphibians tend not to properly 'hibernate' and instead 'overwinter' in frost free shelters found in places like under logs, within banks and other suitable habitat. Is this normal behaviour for amphibians and reptiles well they are adapted for cold weather climates and any mild weather can tempt them out on sunny days. In Colchester a consultancy survey revealed 79 smooth newts, 14 toads and 13 frogs underneath artificial cover objects. Amphibians travel large distances to their breeding areas (ponds) so finding them underneath materials which provide shelter from the cold and in the case of dark felt warmth is quite normal. It is possibly due to the lack of recording for these animals in the winter months and the assumption that they do not awake in the winter during mild spells it seems skews the knowledge about these animals.  There are other examples such as a male adder was seen basking in the winter sun last December before the heavy snowfall in Hadleigh in Essex. It is quite normal for amphibians and reptiles to move around in the winter during milder weather. 10 degrees with a bit of sun would tempt out reptiles to bask and amphibians would be foraging at night or moving towards their breeding ponds. Frogspawn has already been laid in Cornwall - more info to follow on that....

In previous years the milder winters meant that great crested newts were already in their ponds with full crests waiting for the females to turn up. If you find any amphibians or reptiles then please do contact us and let us know or contact your local ARG group 

WWT Early Toad or is it? Mike Caiden


The Adder Project

Surrey ARG Year of the Adder - South East Regional Adder Project

The Adder ProjectThe Adder Project is a collaborative working group of regional herpetological specialist groups with the common goal of creating and populating a geographic and information technology toolset to generate an accurate distribution map for the adder (Vipera berus) across the south east of England.

The project has been spearheaded by Steve Langham from Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group and has/is establishing a data set for the Adder from the following organisations/groups

  • Bucks ARG
  • Essex ARG
  • Add an Adder
  • KRAG
  • SARG
  • BRAG
  • ARC Trust - Sliding Scales Campaign
  • Natural England


To find out more please do visit the Adder Project on Surrey ARG's website - To join the project please download the data sharing agreement

News from Pond Conservation

Several items of news from those nice people at Pond Conservation.  The Pond Conservation Website is offering advice on care of wildlife ponds during the winter freeze. Included is the recommendation to clear snow off frozen ponds, to allow in sunlight to promote the release of oxygen by plants and algae.  Pond Conservation advises that breaking the ice will make little difference to oxygen levels, because oxygen diffuses through the water only very slowly.  This is of interest to pond owners hoping to avoid winterkill of hibernating frogs. Jeremy Biggs Pond Conservation's director has been posting updates on his ponds during the snowfall and looking at the latest science regarding frogs and surviving iced up ponds on the garden pond blog. Here is an archive of the information on oxygen in ponds.

On the suba frozen pond in Suffolkject of which, a letter from Tom Langton in December's issue of British Wildlife still advocates holes in the ice or use of 'ice guards'.

Mr. Langton points out that last winter's Big Thaw survey needs to be repeated.  And by good fortune Big Thaw 2011 is now online. It does not look as though this one records the length of time holes are maintained in ponds – so Mr. Langton''s not going to be satisfied.  But tracking the ice and holes in garden ponds has proved a popular winter holiday activity.  So why not take part?  Got to be more fun than queuing at Heathrow or overnighting on a motorway.  And you can look out for those floating frog corpses as one of the first signs that spring is on its way.  Always such a positive time of year.

The Pond Book 2nd Edition

There's more. The second edition of the Pond Book has been published and is available - from Pond Conservation, priced £17.00. 

And they've got an article New clean-water ponds – a way to protect biodiversity in December's British Wildlife magazine.












Black Path Ponds - North East Reptile & Amphibian Group

20th December 2010 - Black Path Ponds

Catch up with the North East Reptile & Amphibian Group on their blog about their activities - this week it is a story about their winter management works on the Black Path Ponds

'It was a cold, grey Sunday in Darlo' much like any other, but a few hardy NERAG folk and a couple of DWT people turned out to massacre some innocent pond side trees.
Dean Hewitt and Ian Bond gave a potted history of the site and the ponds which at first glance seemed an unlikely GCN breeding site. After being forced at lopper point to wear blue hard hats and rigid canvas gloves, with gauntlets that would have put Darth Vaders to shame, we set to and began demolishing as many pond side trees and shrubs as we could find.
Several dog walkers passed by with bemused expressions on their dogs, and a man with a large gun had us all smiling and being very polite.'

Find out more at their blog

If you are in the North East and would like to help the NERAG on their winter management or survey work please do get in touch

Contact: John Grundy
16 Lilac Crescent
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE16 6QF

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: 01207 270704


Frog spawn development

As part of any frog spawn or frog survey in 2011 I thought that this site would be good to publicise the wonder of frog spawn and its development

Pond Management in Brentwood, Essex

Essex ARG members joined up with local conservation volunteers in Brentwood to carry out some pond management, tree planting and dead hedging at MerryMeades Country Park, in Brentwood Essex. A dozen or so volunteers worked really hard to dig out an old pond to restore it's suitability for the rare and endangered great crested newt. 

The ARG UK's 100% fund provide funds to EARG to build a new pond at Merrymeades in 2008. The pond has been left to colonise naturally and was confirmed to be used by great crested newts in the late spring of 2009. The old pond which was located close by was in need to some de-silting to provide open water for the amphibians which breed at the site there was no opportunity to build a new pond so careful management was used to provide deeper water in the old pond to promote amphibian breeding.

Merrymeades Pond Oct 2010 Merrymeades pond in Oct 2010

The new pond has suffered from use by local dog walkers who allowed their dogs to swim within the pond. A new fence is planned for the later winter 2011 to prevent dogs from disturbing the pond. The old pond was also surrounded by layered and dead hedging to also prevent dogs from entering this pond. The silt which was taken from the old pond was piled into a linear bank away from the pond to create a new terrestrial habitat for amphibians and other wildlife species found at the Country Park.

A follow up survey for amphibians and reptiles will be undertaken over 2011.


Graham Hart - Essex Amphibian & Reptile Group Project Officer - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Laura Dunnell - Brentwood District Council 

Amphibian and Reptile Biology and Conservation 5th December 2010

Prof_T_Beebee BHS_ARC_Trust_Meeting_Dec_2010

The ARC Trust & BHS Scientific Meeting


5th December 2010






The meeting was opened by Professor Trevor Beebee who welcomed people to the meeting. He handed over to Dr Chris Gleed Owen as the chair of the morning session.  Liam Russell who has been studying the UK's Sand Lizards as part of his PhD - Liam explained more about the population genetics of the sand lizards found in Dorset. He outlined the procedures involved in the genetic studies which have been completed so far and where this will be taking him in the future. Following on from this talk Katy Upton described her research into the diversity of frogs in Peru an interesting talk which came from her undergraduate research project.

Back to the UK for the third talk which was from Darryn Nash who has been studying an atypical population of grass snakes in the Aire valley - again this study relied on the genetics of these snakes to determine where they had come from. The results indicated an Eastern Romania origin. Darryn outlined the future work for the study including looking into the possible impact of these introduced species on native grass snakes in this area of Yorkshire.

Following the coffee break Freya Smith gave an update on the 'The epidemiology of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in the UK' the disease which is very much impacting on amphibians over the world and has reached the UK's shores. Freya went over the results of the 2008 amphibian swab and discussed the results, finishing on what will be happening in 2011 for the next national Chytrid survey. Vicky Ogilvy gave a talk on captive amphibians and the role caroteniods have in making sure frogs were healthy in captive breeding programmes through controlled experiments in the lab and in the field - just goes to show that the mantra of '5 a day' also works in other animals and not just humans.

Following this talk and before lunch Professor Richard Griffiths the mid morning chair made two announcements relating to the World Congress of Herpetology in Vancouver, Canada in August 2012 and a project being organised by DICE relating to standard survey protocols for amphibians and reptiles in the UK.

Following Lunch John Baker gave an update on the Pool frog reintroduction project - outlining a brief overview of the background to the project and going through the data which has been collated on the population. The next steps are still to be decided but it look like the reintroduction is progressing well. The next speaker was Robert Heathcote who has been studying European Wall Lizards in the UK - an example of the study of evolution in real time from an introduction of an alien species. Peter Minting described his work on the impact of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis on the natterjack toads in Cumbria. The last talk was away from the cold climes of the UK and into the phylogeny and historical biogeography of the genus Bitis - the vipers found in Africa and was given by Axel Barlow from Bangor University. 


Herp Workers' Meeting 2011 - Cardiff

The 21st Anniversary Celebration of The UK Amphibian and Reptile Group Network 


 Park Inn, Cardiff City Centre, Mary Ann Street, Cardiff, CF10 2JH

January 29-30 2011.

 HWM 2011 Programme.  Includes presentations, workshops and social evening.  A great learning and networking opportunity for anyone interested in UK herps conservation.  Now offering additional workshop from Linewatch.

HWM 2011 Booking Form.

Please download a flyer for HWM 2011 to pass on or pin to a notice board etc.

Please discuss the meeting on social networks and use the

Hash tag #HWM2011


ARG UK joins twitter!

The ARG UK has joined twitter. You can follow all the latest news from our local groups, regional meetings and the national Herpetofauna Workers' meeting as it happens in 140 characters or less! 

Follow ARGgroupsUK on Twitter

Follow the ARG UK Panel Daily through twitter

You can also join our facebook group 

ARG UK facebook group


Chris Monk on ITV1's [i]Wild Britain[/i]


Chris Monk (Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group) appeared on the last episode of Wild Britain with Ray Mears looking at great crested newts in the dewponds of the Peak District.  Ray didn't actually eat any newts, as Chris explained that their skins contain toxins.  Chris appears in the second half of the programme.

South East Regional Meeting - 13th Nov Milton Keynes

The first talk was from Steve Langham from Surrey ARG who went through the surveys being undertaken within Surrey, Hampshire and Sussex for the rarer reptiles - smooth snake and sand lizard. Some very impressive figures was displayed from the survey programme with over 5,000 records generated over one season. Over 1,000 survey tins have been deployed with a core group of 50 surveyors the Surrey ARG is definitely one of the leading ARG's in the region.

The next talk was from Richard Smith and the Parks Trust over their reptile survey in Milton Keynes. The survey project was inspired further by the Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting this year by Herefordshire Amphibian & Reptile Team's project 'Whats that Snake'. Richard highlighted how the survey was undertaken with training courses for volunteers and effective work with the local media which resulted in many more records from Milton Keynes where previously very few reptile records were known.

The first of two workshops was looking at limiting biases in the collection and collation of survey data - presented by the Green Space for Greater London (GiGL) the meeting was broken up into four groups and all enjoyed the debate and reported back on various issues relating to this important issue with local records and data flow.

After Lunch the next round of talks concerned Non Native Frogs, Unveiling the new ARG UK website, Sliding Scales Campaign and how ARGs could work more effectively with the ARC Trust.

The last workshop was concerned with the hot topic of mitigation and the future of this in the UK. A spirited presentation by Kevin Morgan was followed by four discussions on the main points of how herpetofauna is considered within the mitigation process in planning applications and other projects.

A full write will follow in due course. The meeting was a real pleasure to attend and present at with an opportunity to meet mew people and the main players from the South East Region.

Photos from twitter

Richard Smith - South East regional meeting 13th Nov 2010South East Regional Meeting 2010
South East Regional Meeting 13th Nov 2010

Give and Let Live - Ethical Pond Gifts

Give and Let Live - Ethical Pond Gifts

Pond Conservation - Give & let live

The ARG UK is a partner with the Million Ponds Project which is being spearheaded by Pond Conservation. Pond Conservation has recently launched Give & let live which is aimed at unlocking money for creating new ponds in the UK. If you would like to support pond creation in the UK and have something different to give as a gift then please click on the link to find out more


Reptile Habitat Management Handbook

Reptile Habitat Management Handbook Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has produced the Reptile Habitat Management Handbook, aimed at those managing, or advising on, sites where reptiles occur.

Copies are available to ARGs on request from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. The handbook will also be available at the various conferences over the winter.

pdf  Reptile Habitat Management Handbook (low resolution download)

You can also download the handbook as a series of higher resolution pdf documents from the Resources section of the ARC website.

Go-Ahead for Biffawards Ponds

The go-ahead has just been given for a series of pond creation projects, to be funded by Biffaward, as part of the Million Ponds Project.  £202,654 from Biffaward will see 366 ponds created on 63 sites.  All these projects will benefit BAP species associated with ponds.  The figures for herps are:
  • 158 ponds targeting common toad
  • 22 ponds targeting natterjack toad
  • 179 ponds targeting great crested newt
  • 111 ponds targeting grass snake

Of course, many other species will also benefit from the new ponds. The Million Ponds Project is a 50-year initiative, coordinated by Pond Conservation, to reverse the long-term decline in the UKs ponds, increasing pond numbers to one million and, crucially, creating clean water habitats in the landscape. At present, some 80% of ponds in England and Wales are in poor condition, mainly as a result of water pollution. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is a lead partner in the project and is supporting projects that will benefit amphibians and the grass snake.

The next round of Biffaward funding will be open to new applications in October 2010, with the deadline for submissions being January 2011. Although the Million Ponds Project is a 50-year initiative, 2011 will be the final year for Biffaward funding. This funding is available to landowners or land managers able to create new ponds that will benefit any of the BAP species associated with ponds, with a particular focus on the most endangered species which are in danger of disappearing from England and Wales completely. Sites do not need to have public access to be eligible for funding and grants cover 100% of contractor costs. To find out more about funding for pond projects contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Ponds Project Officer with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

UK Chytridiomycosis Survey 2008

In 2008, Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Countryside Council for Wales and the States of Jersey funded the Institute of Zoology to investigate the prevalence of chytrid fungus in the UK. Chytrid is the notorious, microscopic fungus that has been discovered in amphibians worldwide, with devastating effects in some populations.  Andrew Cunningham and Eddie Brede, from the Institute of Zoology, led workshops at the Herp Workers' Meeting in 2008 and recruited and trained volunteers to sample amphibians from sites around the country. Sampling involved the capture of, ideally, at least 30 amphibians at each site, from which skin samples were taken using swabs.  The main findings of the survey are as follows:
  • Nearly 6,000 amphibians from 121 ponds were sampled.
  • Amphibians tested positive for chytrid at 19 (16%) of sites across the UK.
  • There was an association between introduced non-native amphibians and chytrid.
  • Chytrid was detected in all native amphibians except great crested newt*.
*Note: further tests have found chytrid in great crested newt, too.

pdf Download the "National survey of Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis infection in UK amphibians" report (630.68 kB)

It is not yet know what impact, if any, chytrid is likely to have on UK wildlife. It is likely that other sites, will also harbour the infection.  Biosecurity precautions should be followed during the 2010 field season.

pdf  Download ARG Advice Note 4 - Amphibian disease precautions: a guide for UK fieldworkers (147.84 kB)

Since the 2008 screening survey, Freya Smith has started a PhD studentship at the Institute of Zoology and Imperial College London, to further investigate the emergence of chytrid in the UK. Freya will be responsible for coordinating UK chytrid surveillance over the next few years. She has already been conducting a questionnaire survey of swabbers, which will contribute to a more in depth analysis of the 2008 screening survey. These further results of will be made available shortly.

In 2011 Freya plans to re-survey all the sites originally tested in 2008.  If you took part in the 2008 survey, it would be really helpful if you could re-sample your site(s) in 2011. If you have recommendations for additional sites to consider for inclusion in the 2011 survey, then please contact Freya at the Institute of Zoology - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Find out more about chytrid and chytridiomycosis: Amphibian Ark