2015 News Archive

14 September 2015 Derbyshire Butterfly and Reptile site destroyed

Butterfly Conservation's Lowland Derbyshire Conservation Officer Jim Steele and Ken Orpe have found that most of an important area on the northern edge of the former Stanton Ironworks site was destroyed at the end of last week. The low mosaic habitat supported 26 species of butterfly, common lizard were recorded there and grass snake are know from the adjacent ponds. The vegetation and soil has been scraped off and dumped in large piles next to the boundary with the Nutbrook Trail. The site does not have planning permission yet and there was strong representation from naturalists to safeguard this area in the development of the remainder of the site, especially as in the master plan it was shown as a landscaped area and wasn't going to be built on. It has been reported to Erewash Borough Council's enforcement officers.

6 August 2015 Annual Joint Herpetological Scientific Meeting

This year's meeting will be held at Trinity College, Dublin on Saturday August 29, the first time it has been held in Ireland. It is being organised by the Herpetological Society of Ireland with support from the Dublin University Zoological Society, ARC Trust and ARGUK.

6 July 2015 Advice note on new killer disease

Following the finding of the new chytrid disease that kills newts and salamanders in a captive collection and at a captive breeder's facility in the UK a disease alert note has been issued. Compiled by the Zoological Society of London with assistance from other bodies it is principally aimed at breeders, stockists and zoos to alert them to the risk and to try and prevent its escape into the wild where it could devestate native newt poulations. The document is published on the Garden Wildlife Health Project website

5 July 2015 Non Herp news - Hen Harrier Day location

It has been confirmed that the HEN HARRIER DAY EVENT on Sunday 9th August in the Peak District will be in the Goyt Valley. The exact location is Goyts Clough Quarry situated between the Errwood Hall car park and Derbyshire Bridge on the road up the valley. Further details about access arrangements will be published on the Hen Harrier Day website www.henharrierday.org

6 June 2015 Non Herp news - Hen Harrier Day

It has been confirmed that a HEN HARRIER DAY EVENT will be held on Sunday 9th August in the Peak District. The exact location is still being negotiated, but it will be within easy travelling distance of Buxton. Lets hope it won't be as wet as last year's one at Derwent Dam. The news this weekend that the total of missing (ie most likely illegally killed) hen harriers from the very few nesting pairs in NW England now stands at 5 makes this years repeat event even more important.

Also, there will be an evening event to celebrate the Hen Harrier the day before on Saturday 8th August 2015 in Buxton. A host of celebrities will be involved including hopefully Chris Packham, Jeremy Deller (Turner Prize winner), Mark Cocker (author), and Mark Avery. Last but by no means least, Henry the Hen Harrier will appear live (unlike many others) on stage. Details to follow, watch the Hen Harrier Day website www.henharrierday.org

10 May 2015 GCN Training Course

The Derbyshire ARG GCN Training course was held at Hilton Village Hall for 18 people over the weekend. Thanks to David Orchard for running the training session and starting the field work session and to Derbyshire ARG members for assisting with the field sessions. The field sessions quickly found GCN eggs and good results were obtained from the torchlight survey and bottle trapping.

24 April 2015 Toad crossings.

A relatively cold and dry spell delayed most toad movement in the county until temperatures rose following a wet spell just before Easter. The migration to the ponds drew to a close in the week beginning 13th April as more animals were found leaving the ponds after breeding. Measurements of the body length of male toads on their way to the ponds were undertaken at several sites to contribute to the Toadsize project being run by Amphibian & Reptile Conservation and ARGUK

24 March 2015 England Biodiversity Strategy 2020.

Have you heard of this, which the Government has set up led by officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs together with staff from Natural England. It replaces the UK Biodiversity Action Plan that failed to meet most of its targets by 2010 and was quietly dropped. We are now nearly half way towards the end point of the EBS 2020 and at long last officials have realised that outside of their world virtually none of the public are aware of the strategy. Many of the Conservation NGOs have dropped out of the process and are addressing the loss of biodiversity through their own projects as they don't consider that the Government's strategy has any chance of arresting the continuing decline.

14 March 2015 Training courses organised.

Details have been announced of two training courses being run by Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group. A reptile survey training course followed by a site survey is being run on Saturday 25th April for Derbyshire ARG members and local DWT nature reserve volunteers. This will be based at Holloway between Cromford and Crich; see the Events page for details and booking information. A training course covering Great Crested Newts, their ecology and survey methods is being held over the weekend of Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th May. This will be based at Hilton, south west of Derby; see the Events page for details and booking information.

1 March 2015 Toad signs.

After their successful trial at Monyash and Little Hayfield last year, Derbyshire ARG has bought another 30 toad crossing signs printed on Correx for use at some of our toad crossings this spring. They will be used at Furness Vale, South Wingfield, Ridgeway, Church Wilne, Bretby, Foremarke, Radbourne and Grangemill this year.

17 February 2015 Adder survey season starts.

With the first adders found out in Derbyshire today, the 11th year of adder monitoring surveys that contribute to the Make the Adder Count Project is starting.

2014 News Archive

9 December 2014 ZSL identify more disease threats on the horizon for amphibians.

Ranavirus disease, that particularly affects frogs with symptoms such as "red leg", emaciation and sudden die-offs, has now spread across England after its introduction from America in the 1980s and surveys a few years ago showed that the chytrid fungus causing the infection, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is present at a low level in the UK. This has been implicated in extinctions and population reductions particularly in frogs and toads across the world in the last two decades. Now two more fatal diseases have broken out in Europe in the last few years and present a real danger to our amphibians if they reach the UK. Mass mortalities in northern Spain affecting several species of frogs, toads and newts have been found to be caused by a new more virulent ranavirus currently going under the name of CMTV (Common Midwife Toad Virus after the first species in which it was found). This has now spread to other locations and species.

At the event at London Zoo on 9th December, organised by the Zoological Society of London, it was revealed that mass mortalities of European fire salamanders in Holland have been caused by a new chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, and this has now spread into Belgium. Testing has shown that this fungus is fatal to many species of newt, including most species of Triturus newts that include the great crested newt, as well as other newt species. Frogs and toads are not affected by this fungus, which appears to originate in Asia and to be present but not causing illness in some Chinese newt species that are imported into Europe in large numbers for the pet trade.

22 October 2014 Derbyshire ARG adds support to Campaign to save the Peak District’s upland peatlands

The RSPB today issued a press release about its Stop the Burn campaign. A range of organisations including local councils and wildlife groups are backing an RSPB campaign to bring about the end of burning on deep peat, a harmful practice that is destroying parts of the Peak District. Formed over millennia, the upland peatlands of the Peak District provide many benefits for society such as storing and purifying water, locking away carbon and giving a home to a variety of plants and wildlife.

Sadly, most of the Peak District’s upland peatlands have been damaged by historic industrial atmospheric pollution and a range of management activities including grazing, drainage and burning. As atmospheric pollution has been reduced, conditions are now suitable for bog forming plants, such as sphagnum mosses to grow. However widespread burning is preventing the recovery of these bogs. Burning is widely used by game managers to help create the best conditions for red grouse. Carefully managed burning on shallow peat is not normally cause for concern but when it takes place on deep peatlands, it can permanently damage these fragile habitats.

An evidence review by Natural England (the agency responsible for the protection of the countryside) concluded burning on deep peatlands has a negative effect on carbon storage, water quality, and on some plants and wildlife. Earlier this month, Leeds University published the results of a five-year study, providing further compelling evidence that burning has wide ranging harmful effects on deep peat.

An analysis of burning intensity for grouse moor management has identified the Peak District as one of the most intensely burnt areas in the UK so the RSPB decided it was the most fitting place to launch its For Peat’s Sake, Stop the Burn campaign. As a result, more than ten organisations including Sheffield City Council, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group have joined its call for Natural England to put an end to the burning on deep peat.

12 October 2014 Work party at Hilton Gravel Pits Nature Reserve

Luckily the small group who turned up for the work party at the Nature Reserve enjoyed a dry and sunny day after a wet week. A section of the eastern margin of main newt pond at the reserve was cleared of the dense willow scrub that has invaded the area and most of the stumps were treated to try and prevent coppice regrowth in the future. Following the exceptionally dry September the recent rain had restored some water to the northern half of the the pond. A further date may be set in the new year to carry out more clearance work.

30 September 2014 Woodland Festival

A dry, warm and sunny weekend ensured large numbers of visitors attended the Derbyshire County Council's Woodland Festival at Elvaston Castle Country Park. Lots of them spoke to us at the Derbyshire ARG stand, provided several sighting records around the county and many children had fun colouring in the pictures of amphibian and reptiles and handling the adder sloughs that we took along.

20 September 2014 Further update from the Garden Wildlife Health Project

Compared to other taxa, our understanding of disease in British amphibians and reptiles is relatively poor. We have been building a database of disease incidents in amphibians since 1992 and, with the GWH project, we now also conduct investigations into the diseases of wild reptiles in Great Britain. Every report submitted contributes to our understanding of disease threats and each dead animal submitted is examined by a wildlife vet. The post mortem results are recorded on a national database and samples are archived into one of the largest wildlife tissue banks in the world. These are invaluable resources that provide a solid grounding to study and safeguard the health of British amphibians and reptiles. Our results inform and influence government and NGO policies on conservation management through, for example, the GWH forum and Defra’s GB Wildlife Disease Partnership. Our investigations so far have helped to inform some of ARG-UK’s best practice guidelines.

All this is possible because people (like you!) are motivated to get involved and report what they are seeing. So next time you are out herping, please report any sick or dead amphibians or reptiles to us at Garden Wildlife Health Project: http://www.gardenwildlifehealth.org/

It’s free to get involved in GWH, and you’ll receive feedback from a veterinary surgeon about the incident. Furthermore, the project regularly performs post-mortem examination on carcasses to determine the cause of death.

16 August 2014 Survey finds common lizard and slow-worm

The first visit today to the cover objects laid out in early June near Hassop to check on a 2011 sighting of slow-worm during tree felling on a lichen rich slope. Apart from field voles, wood mice and innumerable ants' nest two slow-worms and two common lizards were found. There is another trip to the site planned for 20th September (weather permitting), email the secretary if you want to come along

11 August 2014 Grass snake eggs hatching

First sighting today of two new-born grass snakes on a muck heap specially constructed for them near Bolsover

08 August 2014 New snake leaflets from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC)

ARC have launched their summer snakes campaign to get people to record snake sightings in their gardens. It also includes a series of information leaflets that can be downloaded from their website . These include "Identifying Britain’s snakes: a poster to help you decide which kind of snake you’ve spotted"; "Snakes in gardens – Key facts"; "Snakes in gardens – Frequently asked questions" and "Snakes and garden netting: a guide to help you reduce the chance of snakes getting tangled and dying in netting"

15 July 2014 Update on the Garden Wildlife Health Project

Don't get put off by the name, they are really needing reports of sick, dying or dead reptiles that you find anywhere - NOT just in gardens. Since the official launch of the project they have received 480 reports of amphibian disease incidents and 82 carcasses from these incidents. These were mostly common frogs and common toads with a small number of palmate newts and smooth newts.

They have received very few reports of reptile disease, but they have all generated bodies for post-mortem examination.

The GWH Project could be investigating disease (both non-infectious and infectious) in reptiles and amphibians to a larger degree if they had a wider range of samples and reports. While reports of common toads and common frogs from suburban sites have been good, they are interested in learning about the fate of all British amphibian and reptile species from all regions. Details are at

Garden Wildlife Health Project: http://www.gardenwildlifehealth.org/

13 July 2014 Reminder for Pleasley visit on Saturday 19th July

Don't forget this free event, no booking required just meet in the site car park by the former colliery engine house at 11am.

12 July 2014 Dawn to Dusk at the Avenue Event

A successful time was had at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's event at their nature reserve at Wingerworth, on a hot sunny day. DARG members ran the pond dipping sessions everyone of which turned up many smooth newt tadpoles. A few great crested newt tadpoles were also found, along with lots of dragonfly and damselfly larvae and many other invertebrates.

18 June 2014 BBC get the wrong newt in Ripley

Newts get the blame again when they may not even be present in this non-story on the BBC website headlined "Soil mound move at Ripley site delayed due to newt risk" where a house building company claims it cannot move a large mound of soil near to one of its developments because there may be newts on the site. Presumably this refers to the risk that the protected great crested newt might be in the vicinity. However the BBC have illustrated it with a stock photo of the un-protected and non-native alpine newt..

7 June 2014 Slow-worm survey underway.

After several false starts over the past couple of years we have now put out several refuges on the site at Hassop above where a casual sighting of slow-worm was made in 2011. The date eventually chosen, when the Peak Park Ranger could assist with transporting the materials to within 100 metres of the location, started with lightening and thunder but luckily those thunderstorms had passed before we were carrying metal "tins" across the hillside. Unluckily they were replaced by steady heavy rain. Visits are planned in August and September to check the site.

27 May 2014 Belper Wakes Event

A successful day was had at the well attended Belper Wakes Event on Bank Holiday Monday, with the DARG stand attracting many visitors. Quite a few amphibian and reptile records were received from the public including from neighbouring counties

18 May 2014 Interim Derbyshire toad crossing results

Not all the figures are in yet but already 9,000 toads were moved across the roads by volunteer patrols in Derbyshire, though unfortunately around 1,000 toads were still killed on the roads at these locations. Some other amphibians were found, mostly some frogs and smooth newts, with a few great crested newts being recorded at Monyash, Radbourne and Grangemill.

18 May 2014 Successful Training event at Whitworth Park

Despite the heavy showers a successful amphibian training workshop was held at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale. Thanks are due to the Centre for the free use of a room and supplies of tea and coffee. Bottle trapping confirmed smooth newts in the Boasting Lake, which added to the records of frog and toad there.

3 May 2014 new Amphibian Identification Guide published.

A new revised and updated version of the Amphibian ID guide has just been published and is available from the ARGUK and the ARC websites. To download the 6 page colour guide in pdf format click this link or visit the ARGUK or ARC websites. This new version includes more information on the alien species that are found in some parts of the UK such as the green frogs, bullfrogs, midwife toads and alpine newts

8 April 2014 Derbyshire toad crossing on Burton TV news

The team from Burton TV news came out to film our Bretby/Repton Shrubs toad crossing, including commentary by Bob Baker, the crossing co-ordinator and DARG committee member. To view the footage which lasts about 12 minutes visit their website

31 March 2014 Derbyshire adder "posted" to London

The vets at the Institute of Zoology (IoZ) in London were interested in a freshly dead adder found dat the weekend. They are behind the Garden Wildlife Health Project being run by several conservation organisations to examine disease in garden birds, hedgehogs, amphibians and reptiles. As very few sick or dead reptiles are found in gardens and little is known about their diseases they are particularly interested in reptiles found anywhere. Despite following previous guidance about posting carcasses to the IoZ, today they found out that the Royal Mail won't allow them to have dead adders sent by post in case the postman somehow gets injected with venom! Therefore the IoZ had to arrange for a courier to come and collect the dead adder (securely packaged in a stout container) from us and transport it down to London. Remember if you come across dead or dying amphibians or reptiles that you think may be suffering from disease then please visit the project website and click on the box saying Report sick or Dead wildlife.

31 March 2014 Toad migration under way

After a start stop beginning to toad movement across Derbyshire during most of March the mild weather last week started some significant migration to their breeding ponds. The wet weather on Monday evening brought them out in real numbers so our Toad Crossing Patrols were really busy. Unfortunately travelling around that evening showed large numbers of casualties on the roads in many places where loads of toads have been squashed by the traffic.

15 March 2014 The Sanctuary LNR Derby#4 : Derby City throw in the towel

Last night Derby City Council slipped out a press release saying they were abandoning the construction of the cycle track on their Local Nature Reserve. They blamed the Wildlife Trust for taking legal action, resulting in a court judgement ordering the City Council to stop work until the court case is heard, saying the delay meant that they would be unable to complete the work within budget. Looks like a success for careful campaigning by the coalition of 15 wildlife groups and the over 1,000 objections sent to the Council's Planning Department.

7 March 2014 Grass snakes and Toads are about

First sightings reported today of grass snakes seen out of hibernation. Frog spawn starting to be seen across the county and quite a few common lizards were about last weekend. With forecast milder weather in the next little while, toads could soon be migrating to their breeding ponds. A few have already been reported from Bretby & Foremark toad road crossing patrols

19 February 2014 The Sanctuary LNR Derby#3

A court order has been served on Derby City Council to stop them bulldozing the Nature reserve until there is a full court hearing into the case for a judicial review of the planning permission

7 February 2014 A sad day for wildlife in Derby#2

Investigations are being made next week into what could be major errors in the proposed lizard mitigation works on the Sinfin site in Derby. Video posted on the internet shows most of the site apparently flattened by heavy machinery.

7 February 2014 A sad day for wildlife in Derby#1

Derby City Council made unwelcome news and set a precedent for the destruction of nature reserves when they approved the construction of a cycle race track and a mountain bike area on their own Sanctuary Local Nature Reserve (as declared under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act). This was despite over 1,000 objections to the planning application being received. Tim Birch, Conservation Manager at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said during the meeting: "This would set a shameful local and national precedent. It will be the first time a local authority nature reserve is destroyed by the same council that created it." Local naturalist Nick Moyes who was involved in setting up the reserve 10 years ago said: "In reaching this decision, the authority has gone against its own planning policies." and TV naturalist Chris Packham called the proposal "wanton vandalism".

5 February 2014 News from last weekend's Herpetofauna Workers' Meeting

The 2014 meeting at Bristol Zoo Gardens was a sell out, with many more people wanting to attend but it had reached the capacity limit for the venue. Two of the talks related to toads on roads with the results from the Toadsize measuring project in 2013 suggesting that there is a greater size range in the toad population where toad patrols are present.

A study of road gullies in Holland gave very similar results to the findings in Perth & Kinross last year - that road gullies are a death trap with an average of 1.5 vertebrates per gully pot. Amphibians make up the majority (87%) with the rest being small mammals, leading RAVON the Dutch government wildlife agency to estimate half a million adult amphibians and many times this figure of juveniles are killed in gully pots each year. Work is being undertaken on new designs that incorporate a construction allowing amphibians to escape.

17 January 2014 Garden Wildlife Health project launched

Amphibian and Reptile Groups are being asked to assist in this project set up by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Froglife and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. ARGUK and ARC along with others like The Mammal Society and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society are also involved as Forum members with the project.

It aims to monitor the health of, and identify disease threats to, British wildlife based mainly on observations by members of the public in their gardens or locality. If you come across dead or dying amphibians or reptiles that you think are suffering from disease then please visit the project website and click on the box saying Report sick or Dead wildlife. In some cases you may be sent a package to send the dead animal to the ZSL vets for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

7 January 2014 Save The Sanctuary Local Nature Reserve, Derby

Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group is one of the 15 strong coalition of conservation groups objecting to the proposals to destroy a significant section of the reserve for a cycle race track and mountain bike area. A planning application was submitted to the City Council just before Christmas and objections have to be in by 17th January.

News Archive for 2013

23 June 2013 Hold the front page! It's the silly season, let's blame newts

A complete non-story on the BBC website yesterday - it must have been a no news day in Derbyshire. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-23004366 What it doesn't say is that the REQUIRED ecological data collection & surveys that were undertaken in the planning stages of this project in 2012, well before any work started on the ground 6 months ago, identified that one possible site for depositing silt from dredging the canal was close to ponds supporting great crested newts. They also didn't use sites that supported water voles or were nature reserves close to the canal so therefore other sites were used to receive the silt.

14 June 2013 Herpetological Journals

After the death earlier this year of Derek Yalden, President of the Mammal Society, his collection of herpetological papers has been passed to the Group. Although well known latterly for his work on mammals, including his last scientific paper detailing the expansion, decline and eventual extinction in 2009 of the feral population of Bennett's Wallabies in the Peak District, Derek's many studies in the National Park included work on amphibians, resulting in publication of papers in herpetological journals. At some of the sites he surveyed particularly around Hurdlow, his records from the 1980's are still the last amphibian records from ponds there.

19 May 2013 Toads on the road results

With numbers in from most of our toad patrols, overall there has been an increase in numbers in 2013 compared to 2012. Patrols were helped with the weather producing a very short migration period with most toads being recorded over just 5 nights. However there was a noticeable bias in the results with most sites in lowland Derbyshire showing a moderate increase in numbers over 2012, whilst our collection of sites in the north west in High Peak had only similar or lower numbers compared to 2012. The outstanding site was again Ridgeway, which was the only site in 2012 to show an increase over 2011, allbeit very small, but with the numbers almost doubling in 2013.

27 April 2013 Toad Size Project

To assist with this national project being run by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and ARG-UK, during this spring's migration male toads were measured for their snout-vent length at four of Derbyshire ARG's crossings. Volunteers at Foremark, Furness Vale, Grangemill and Radbourne measured up to 20 male toads a night during their toad crossing patrols, a difficult job in the dark with the toads determined not to stay still on the ruler for very long. For details of the project see the ARG-UK Project page http://www.arguk.org/toadsize2013-getting-the-measure-of-toads-that-cross-roads/

14 April 2013 Toads on the move

As the weather, especially night time temperatures, has warmed up the amphibians are starting to move. Those frogs who didn't make it to their ponds before the blizzards have been spawning this week and sites across the county are seeing toads moving across roads or appearing in ponds in preparation for breeding. As they are overlapping with the frogs I have seen male frogs on the back of female toads in the Gang Mine Nature Reserve dewpond today. The next few evenings will probably see a mass movement of toads to the ponds so our toad crossing patrols will be busy.

13 April 2013 Reptiles moving at last

There have been sightings of grass snakes coming out of hibernation, about a month later than last year, with Tracy seeing 4 out at site in the NE of the county.

18 March 2013 Frogs spawning

The cold wintry weather has delayed the start of the amphibian breeding season but in the last week frogs have started spawning in lowland parts of Derbyshire with several reports of spawn being sent in from Derby City Pond Wardens. Further north in the Peak District winter still has an icy grip on the landscape with no reports yet of frog spawn from that area.

13 March 2013 Student reptile survey

DARG members Trevor Taylor and Chris Monk organised with lecturer Mary Rush for first year students at Broomfield campus of Derby College to put out nearly 50 cover objects for a reptile survey in the grounds. A mixture of metal "tins" and carpet tiles were placed in five areas judged to provide habitat for reptiles. They will be monitored during the year by students on the Countryside Management course.

2 March 2013 First lizards of the year

A few days with some sunshine after a cold dull week has started to bring out common lizards, the first was reported on the Peak District Moors on Thursday 28th Feb with more seen on Saturday 2nd March. No-one has reported any frog spawn to us yet

30 Jan 2013 Government shuts stable door after horse has bolted - and its not horse meat in lasagna

Environment Minister Richard Benyon has announced plans to ban the sale of 5 species of invasive alien water plants (water fern, parrot's feather, floating pennywort, water primrose and Australian swamp stonecrop) from April 2014, ie they can still be sold for at least another year. I suppose it will be better late than never but the fact that at least three of them are now widespread in ponds across England means that it will not have a significant effect on their spread to other water bodies.

27 Jan 2013 Herpetofauna Workers Meeting

A successful Herpetofauna Workers Meeting was held over this weekend at Heriot Watt University outside Edinburgh. This was well attended by people traveling from Southern England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland as well from Scotland and northern England. Despite the poor weather in the days leading up to the meeting everyone who had booked to attend did manage to make it

12 Jan 2013 New Toad Project

A joint ARG-UK and ARC project called ToadSize is planned for this spring to measure the length of a sample of male toads on their migration back to the ponds at sites across the UK. This is to see if toad mortality on busy roads is leading to a smaller sized population as toads don't live long enough to grow to full size. More details will be available later and circulated to our toad crossing volunteers.

News Archive for 2012

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Derbyshire Biodiversity Winter Newsletter & Forum

According to the Lowland Derbyshire Biodiversity we have jumped straight from summer into winter! The winter edition of their newsletter has just been published and is available on the Derbyshire Biodiversity website newsletter pages

Bookings are also open for their Annual Forum on Saturday 17th November at County Hall Matlock. The event is free but you do need to book a place, details are on their website, and the event is themed around "communications".

A load of old iron

Thanks are due to Derbyshire Mammal Group, who have been using metal sheets from a dismantled pheasant pen for doing a small mammal survey at Willington. At the end of the survey rather than take the sheets to the tip for recycling they have donated them to DARG for use for reptile surveys in 2013.

Successful Midlands Meeting

This was held on Saturday 22 September at the National Forest's Waterside Centre at Moira. Attended by people from as far away as Hexham and Hampshire, talks on a series of interesting topics including research into adder movement and genetic markers, 30 years of studying a toad population in Leicestershire, an update on the OPAL project and a project looking into melanism in snakes. A demonstration of the workings of the Record Pool, ARG-UK's on-line recording system was also shown. The buffet lunch included a particularly appealing chocolate cake.

7ft pet snake found on the moors

A 7ft long granite burmese python was found by chance in some bushes on the moors near Ringlinglow Road earlier this month. The RSPCA were called out and came and rescued it. It seemed in good condition and it would appear that the unfortunate animal had simply been dumped up there by a callous owner.

Sheffield Moors Partnership to launch consultation

The draft masterplan for the Sheffield Moors Partnership is to be opened for public consultation next month (September)when it will be placed on their website. There will also be a public road show at various locations around the area with a display and information about the draft master plan.

Combs toad crossing site wins funding from Project

Froglife have secured funding from outdoor clothing manufacturers Patagonia's Environmental Grants program for their Talking Toads Project. This is to support two Toad Patrols, through to develop on the ground improvements for their toads, and use the experiences in a tool kit to help other Patrols do something. One of the sites is Derbyshire's Combs Reservoir toad crossing which started operating 20 years ago. The other site is the Henley-Marlow crossing in Buckinghamshire. Froglife's Public Engagement Officer Sivi Sivanesan is organising the Project and will be visiting the site with crossing co-ordinator Julia Gow and Group Secretary Chris Monk next month and it is hoped to organise a consultation meeting with volunteers and other partners in the autumn.

Programme announced for autumn meeting

A provisional programme of talks has been announced for the ARG UK Midlands Regional Meeting being held on 22nd September at the Waterside Suite off Bath Lane, Moira in the National Forest. Details are on our events page. Booking forms will be e-mailed or posted to members shortly.

Derbyshire Biodiversity Summer Newsletter

The summer edition of the newsletter has just been published and is available on the Derbyshire Biodiversity website newsletter pages

Carr Vale Reptile Walk

Several member's attended the event in early July and looked at the locations on the sites where grass snakes have been seen. Unfortunately no snakes were seen on the day itself but a very recent whole skin slough was found, together with many more fragmentary ones.

Woodside Bioblitz

Member's attended the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust event in June and collected several records of amphibians and reptiles from those attending. Unfortunately during the day itself only common frog and common toad were recorded on the site of the Trust's new nature reserve, despite our having casual sightings of grass snake from last year.

Derby Wild Volunteering

Derby City's Wild Derby is sponsoring several student bursary volunteer projects in the city this year, including a reptile survey on a site in the city. The Group has been assisting by mentoring the two students carrying out the survey. The first visit a month after putting out cover objects was successful in finding some lizards, both basking out on the site and under a cover object.

Longcliffe Quarries open day

Longcliffe Quarries are planning an open day on Saturday 7th July to show visitors the conservation work that they have been doing at some of their sites. Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group gave advice on the conservation options for ponds and amphibians on three of their sites in 2010 when the company drew up Biodiversity Action Plans to ensure that work and restoration benefited wildlife as much as possible. We have also assisted with advice and amphibian surveys this year.

Spring edition of ARG Today newsletter published

Issue 11 can be downloaded from the ARG-UK website http://www.arguk.org/arg-today-our-newsletter/.

A poor year for toads

Although not all the totals are in, the very dry March weather with warm days and cold nights has resulted in it being a poor year for toad migrations. All the toad crossing patrols recorded fewer toads than in previous years and in many cases less than 50% of the numbers seen last year.

Great crested newts found

The first visit to the quarry site just after Easter was successful in finding a few great crested newts and smooth newts in the new ponds. If there is enough interest a second visit will be made in May for another torchlight survey - see Events listing.

Checking a moorland site for palmate newts in mid April also turned up yet another new upland site for great crested newts in the Dark Peak.

Black grass snake killed by dog

The excitement at finding a large completely black female grass snake on National Trust land near Hardwick Hall was quickly forgotten when it was killed by a dog within a week.

Derbyshire Toad crossings in the media

With newspaper articles in local papers in Burton and Derby and the BBC out filming in High Peak, Derbyshire ARG's Toad on Roads patrols are getting some media coverage.

First grass snakes

The first reports of grass snakes emerging from hibernation at the beginning of March have been received from the Hardwick Hall Estate and from near Bolsover.

Amphibian activity starting

The recent mild weather has started frogs spawning in their ponds and a few toads started moving towards their breeding ponds at the end of February.

Recognition of Group's volunteer effort

The Secretary was invited by the Peak Park to be one of the representatives of the voluntary sector at a reception at Haddon Hall on Friday 24th February. This was in recognition of our work over many years on pond and amphibian surveys and adder work in the National Park. The reception was attended by the Prince of Wales who presented a certificate to the longest serving volunteer ranger in the park to mark his 50 years of volunteering.

Help needed for Glossop, Wingerworth and Radbourne Toad crossings

Derbyshire ARG is attempting to re-start the former toad crossings at Glossop, Wingerworth and Radbourne, where the former organisers and volunteers have all moved away in the past few years. A training day at Wingerworth is being organised on Saturday 18th February (see events page), more help is needed for Radbourne where Kelvin is organising coverage this year and also volunteers needed at Glossop. Contact the Secretary for the later two sites. Please volunteer!

ARG UK Winter 2011/12 Newsletter

The latest edition of the newsletter (number 10) is available for downloading from the ARG-UK website.

2012 Herpetofauna Workers Meeting Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th January

Time is running out to book your place on this meeting being held at the Telford International Centre in Shropshire. The deadline for registration is Monday 16th January, details are on the ARC website, they are organising the event this year with some assistance from ARG-UK. The keynote speaker on Sunday is the naturalist & broadcaster Nick Baker.

Derbyshire ARG providing training for Derby City Pond Wardens Association

We are running a training session on amphibians for the Derby City Pond Wardens Association in April, as part of their OPAL funded PINE Project. PINE stands for Ponds Identification Novice to Expert and their Project has had workshops from local experts last year on Odonata and Pond Invertebrates & Plants. It also includes their sharing skills with classroom & pond dipping sessions with children at schools in the city.

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