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. 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

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

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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