There is no subscription but members who sign up are covered by the ARG insurance scheme. We are affiliated to the Bedfordshire Natural History Society. We are also members of the Beds Heathland Forum. We have helped draft SAPS for both Bedfordshire Adders and Great Crested Newt.
At present much of our activity has been concentrated on specific sites in the south of the county. We are only too aware of how little we know about North Bedfordshire. In spite of large areas of arable desert Bedfordshire is richer in herps than one might expect. We have all the common species with the exception of the palmate newt. There are two introduced species: Midwife Toads and Pool Frogs, and one re-introduction: Natterjack Toads. The county is a stronghold for the Great Crested Newt. Much of Bedfordshire is very poorly surveyed. We simply do not know what is there. Parts of the county are under severe development pressure and there are not enough of us. If are interested please get in touch.
Great Crested Newts: colonisation of new ponds
It is usually said that GCN do not colonise new ponds quickly. We found an exception to this rule a couple of weeks ago. Three new ponds were excavated at Marston Thrift LNR in late February this year as part of the SITA / Natura International Marston Vale Great Crested Newt Project (see news item dated 20 February 2014). As they are so new these ponds have very little vegetation but when we surveyed them on 2nd June we found GCN eggs in one of the ponds! A clump of Yorkshire Fog grass had been thrown in and the newts were using this for egg laying. [See Photo Gallery]
Adders on Mark Avery’s blog
Nicholas Milton has written another piece on adders, this time as a guest on Mark Avery’s blog (for Nicholas’ previous article see our news item ‘Adders in the news’ of 24th March below). It is again well worth reading as are the comments, including one from BRAG member Matt Andrews.
Toad spawn and tadpoles
On 23 April last year we saw spectacular quantities of Common Toad spawn in a balancing pond near Marston Thrift LNR. Some balancing ponds, dug for a new development at Cranfield, contained little suitable vegetation for the Common Toads to lay their eggs on. Three clumps of vegetation, though, were favoured by the toads with the results you can see here [Photo Gallery]. The eggs are still round and have not developed far. This year we visited the same pond on 10 April and there were large numbers of tadpoles swimming about in the pond. What a difference in the timing!
Torching the Fire Pond
Not quite as dramatic as it sounds! We spent one evening surveying at Maulden Woods for Great Crested Newts as part of the SITA / Natura International project based in the Marston vale area. [See Photo Gallery] This small pond, previously built to hold water for putting out fires, was partly filled in years ago to make it safer. In 2004 and 2008 we found Great Crested Newt eggs there and it has often been used for breeding by Common Frogs, Common toads and Smooth Newts. Earlier this month unfortunately we did not find any Great Crested Newt eggs though we saw both Smooth Newt adults and eggs.
Adders in the news
It is encouraging to read a sensible article on adders in a national newspaper - albeit on their website's environmental blog and commenting on their decline. Have a look at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2014/mar/21/save-adder-extinction-middle-england
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Link to Saxon Gate Toad lift: http://www.toadlift.webs.com
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