Get involved

Photo © Jon Cranfield


'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


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.


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


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.


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


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 

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


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