Get involved

Photo © Jon Cranfield

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.

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 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 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


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 


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

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 

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. 

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!

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IMGP2499 IMGP2497

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

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

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.


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

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:


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.












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


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

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 

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.