Yorkshire Amphibian & Reptile Group
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About Us


If you have an interest in amphibians and reptiles, this site will provides you with information about our local voluntary group which works with and for this enigmatic group of species in the region. In addition this site aims to tell you about the work we do and how to join in if you wish to pursue your interest.

Volunteering with Yorkshire ARG

If you are interested in reptile and amphibian conservation in Yorkshire why not become an active Yorkshire ARG member? Throughout the year we require help with activities of varying scale ranging from site monitoring for amphibians and reptiles, amphibian reintroductions to amphibian swabbing to contribute to national programmes aimed at determining the extent of amphibian disease in the UK. There is no minimum commitment required, however, the more YOU put in the more the amphibians and reptiles of Yorkshire will benefit.

Without volunteers most conservation organisations would not exist! Yorkshire ARG (YARG) is no exception, therefore if you too want to unleash the hidden herpetologist within why not join the ARG and help conserve a group of declining British species. Our Constitution is attached.


Reasons to Join Yorkshire ARG:

  • Gain a chance to see elusive often hard to find species in their natural environment.
  • Help make difference to neglected species that in some cases are in rapid decline.
  • Gain experience in active conservation, essential for today's ecological employment market.
  • Meet new, like minded people.
  • Get exercise and fresh air with a purpose rather than at the gym.
  • Gain the satisfaction of helping YOUR local environment!

We encourage people to take part in reptile and amphibian survey projects like 'NARRS' and 'Make the Adder Count' coordinated by ARC, as well as rare reptile monitoring on sites that are short of voluntary surveyors. We help train people where necessary. There are also numerous opportunities for taking part in conservation tasks across the county (usually winter habitat management), on nature reserves managed by ARC, local authorities, Natural England, the Forestry Commission, RSPB, National Trust and other landowners. YARG aims to provide a link between these bodies and all the keen volunteers that are out there. If you want to offer your services, or you need volunteers for your herp-related projects, then get in touch!

How to join

It's simple! Download the membership forms, fill them in and follow the instructions.

Membership of Yorkshire ARG is just £5 per year which goes directly towards the work of the group and the conservation of amphibians and reptiles.



2017 Season upon us!

Posted on Saturday 18th March, 2017

Latest GW Y ARG Logo

Hi All

Following our Yorkshire ARG annual meeting held in early March we welcome YARG members old and new to join us in events and activities this 2017 season.  We welcome any opportunities to undertake survey and training events, conservation activities or anything else which seeks to meet our objectives as a ARG.

Frogspawn is now becoming abundant at pond sites and the herps of Yorkshire are now awaking to the new season and are heading to ponds for breeding, basking and become well and truly active.

The Yorkshire ARG is essentially what the members make it - whilst we seek to offer events each year its up to you to provide ideas for events, provide insights of sites areas which may need further survey or assistance with enhancement or other events to raise awareness so please do let us know (see contact details).  There loads of amazing habitats in Yorkshire to explore!

Look forward to see you over the course of the season and happy herping!

The Yorkshire ARG committee!



Yorkshire ARG has over 50 current members!

Posted on Wednesday 17th February, 2016

The Yorkshire ARG currently has around 50 formalised members - we are now gearing up to plan another years of activities, surveys and events in 2016.  We are a purely voluntary group of individuals so events or activities are entirely led by and organized by our members.  The group seeks to undertake and contribute to the national events and surveys being conducted by ARGUK, ARC and by other relevant organisations such as The Freshwater Habitats Trust.


Our group membership is geographical very wide ranging throughout Yorkshire with members scattered from Sheffield in the South up to Leeds, York and as far as Scarborough and Hull.  Therefore we seek to ‘hook up’ our members who may live locally to one another and could collaborate to form a more localised survey/event team.  Group members collectively have a wealth of herpetofauna expertise and survey experience; many work within private and public wildlife organizations, conservation agencies, are ecological consultants or are interested and enthusiastic herpetologists.


All events and surveys details are circulated to group members.  We already have a number of new survey opportunities and event in our draft events programme as well as plans to continue some of those undertaken in 2015…details to follow soon…!

Most surveys and events are undertaken within the main herpetofauna survey season from mid March to end September each year. 


So if you know of a great amphibian or reptile sites in Yorkshire, or ones which have potential to be great and would like to arrange a survey or an event at please do get in touch, we may be able to assist you! 

Amphibian Chytridiomycosis in North Yorkshire

Posted on Friday 3rd June, 2011

Amphibian chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the virulent fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (or Bd for short), has been recognised as the primary cause of global amphibian population declines and extinctions since the late 1990s. The disease is known from many parts of the world, including Europe where it is decimating multi-species amphibian assemblages in Spain.  In the UK the presence of non-native species has been linked to the introduction and spread of Bd. 

In 2008 a project, Funded by Natural England and conducted by the Institute of Zoology (IoZ), aimed at assessing the extent of Bd across the UK was undertaken.  In order to determine the distribution of Bd in Great Britain, the project aimed to identify the Bd status of as many ponds as possible with as wide a geographical spread as possible to obtain meaningful results.

The project utilized the network of ARGs across the UK to train volunteers in the techniques for obtaining samples for analysis by IoZ and to raise awareness of the threat of Bd and the biosecurity measures that should be taken when visiting ponds or other waterbodies.

In Yorkshire five sites were sampled and two tested positive for Bd.  One of the sites (Sun Lane Nature Reserve near Otley) was sampled by NEW Yorks ARG and repeat surveys have been carried out since 2008 to confirm the initial positive results. A range of native amphibians occur at Sun Lane Nature reserve including; common toad, and great crested newt, however it is likely that Bd has been introduced to the site by an established population of non –native Alpine Newts (Triturus alpestris) present at the site.  Although Bd is has been identified at Sun Lane Nature Reserve there have been no recorded instances of unexplained mass amphibian “die offs”. Therefore the negative affects of Bd at the site remain unknown.  Further sampling of amphibians by New Yorks ARG at the Sun Lane Nature Reserve and Skipwith Common will occur during 2011. Keep an eye on Herptile Happenings for the date to be confirmed.  More importantly if you know of any sites in Yorkshire that you feel needs sampling for Bd please get in touch with NEW Yorks ARG for advice.

National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS)

Posted on Friday 3rd June, 2011

The National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) widespread species surveys began in 2007 and continues to date.  In brief the aim of the project is to gather species counts and habitat suitability data for amphibians and reptiles in randomly allocated 1km grid squares across the UK.  Grid squares are allocated to volunteers registered with NARRS within 5km of their post code. 

The data gathered through the scheme can be used to long-term to provide information contributing to UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) and EU Article 17 status assessments, habitat condition assessments and other measures. Ultimately it should be possible to use the NARRS results to set conservation priorities and targets, and to contribute to local, regional and national Action plans, as well as to measure the progress of conservation action on the ground 

In Yorkshire and Humber a total of 19 grid squares (12 for amphibians and 7 for reptiles) were surveyed between 2007 and 2009.  A report detailing the results and the data analysis of these surveys can be downloaded from the ARC trust’s website (http://www.arc-trust.org/downloads/NARRS_Report_2007-2009.pdf).  In 2011 members of the New Yorks ARG will be running another free NARRS volunteer training course at Skipwith Common (see Herptile Happenings for details).  If you look at our picture gallery you can view a number of reptile pictures taken at Skipwith Common during the course in 2010, hopefully weather permitting we will have similar success in 2011.  In addition in 2010 New Yorks ARG members adopted a group square so if you don’t feel you can take something on by yourself keep an eye on Herptile Happenings and there maybe a group NARRS survey event you can get involved with.  


If you wish to register for NARRS or wish to know more about the scheme please visit the official NARRS website - http://www.narrs.org.uk/index.htm



Show Past Events

Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens York - Wildlife Day

Sun 18th June, 2017

Yorkshire ARG will be again be involved by hosting an information stand and conducting pond dipping and ID activities at the garden centre wildlife day   This was a great event last year with amphibians and aquatic pond life being on display for identification and the stand being provided to show identification of herpetofaina and give advice to members of the public about herps in our region and in their gardens. The gardens are really fantastic and a number of other species organisations are present including the butterfly and bat groups and bird ringers so plenty to see and do.

For further details see http://www.stillingfleetlodgenurseries.co.uk/workshops/wildlife-day/

Please contact newyorksarg@gmail.com  if you are able to help promote our group and spend an hour on the ARG stand at any time during the day at this event.  Free for volunteers to assist.. there's a lovely cafe too!

Timings etc to be confirmed in due course.



Amphibian ID and Survey Techniques - Hagge Woods Trust (York)

Sat 22nd April, 2017

Come and join the ARG for an afternoon at this wonderful wood meadow site located within the Escrick Park Estate south of York.


The wood meadow at Hagge Wood has created from an arable field and now after a lot of hard work and expertise is a thriving woodland ecosystem.  The Trust has created a pond within the wood meadow and we have been kindly invited to conduct a survey of the pond and the wider site for amphibians. 

We will be providing advice on amphibian survey tehcniques and identification skills.  The ARG will seek to undertake netting, bottle trap setting and torching to see what is present at the site.

Full details of the event are yet to be finilaised but the approximate plan would be to meet in the afternoon ~3/4pm to conduct a survey of the site and pond , undertake a session of identification (under the cover the wonderful Bodgers den! weather permitting) and have the opportunity to speak to the creators of the site and Yorkshire ARG members.  Then to await darkness to undertake some torch surveying of the pond,  we may also bring a few bat detectors and do a bit of bat spotting as we are awaiting darkness. 


Fort more information about the Hagge Wood Trust see http://www.haggewoodstrust.org.uk/

We will update the event details ASAP with timings details  - but if you are interested in attending please drop the ARG an email.

Three Hagges Wood-Meadow, York Road, Escrick, York, North Yorkshire, YO19 6EF. 

Three Hagges Wood-Meadow lies 7 miles south of York and 5 miles north of Selby, alongside the A19.




Amphibian Safari - Wombwell Wood (Barnsley)

Thu 6th April, 2017

Join Yorkshire Amphibian and Reptile Group in partnership with the DVLP for a night walk exploring the hidden world of amphibians in Wombwell Woods. This is the perfect time of the year to see amphibians close up as they head towards their evening ponds in preparation for breeding.

The event is FREE but booking is essential, please see website below to book your place. All are welcome but children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. No previous experience necessary.

Please wear sensible outdoor clothing and footwear and bring a torch if possible.

Please meet in the Forestry Commission car park to Wombwell Wood ready for 7:30pm.




Amphibian Safari - Howell Wood

Wed 5th April, 2017

Join Yorkshire Amphibian and Reptile Group in partnership with the DVLP for a night walk exploring the hidden world of amphibians in Howell Wood. This is the perfect time of the year to see amphibians close up as they head towards there evening ponds in preparation for breeding.

The event is FREE but booking is essential, please book via the website below. All are welcome but children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. No previous experience necessary.

Please wear sensible outdoor clothing and footwear and bring a torch if possible.

Please meet in the car park to Howell Wood ready for 7:30pm.


See http://discoverdearne.org.uk/events/amphibian-safari/


Nell Bank Centre (Ilkley) - GCN Translocation Monitoring

Sat 1st April, 2017

Date TBC


One of our members Gordon Haycock is intending to return this year to Nell Bank Centre near Ilkley http://www.nellbank.com/ to check in on the amphibians populations including the great crested newt population which he has been monitoring for the last few years since the completion of a conservation based translocation scheme.

We will confirm dates for surveys in due course so please check back!

If you are interested in joining Gordon - what this space for details of email us at the usual address and we will pass your details onto Gordon.


FHT - PondNet Survey Training Events (various dates)

Sat 25th March, 2017 - Tue 25th July, 2017

Freshwater Habitats Trust is continuing the completion of PondNet surveys.  PondNet is an exciting new national volunteer survey to collect information about trends in pond quality and pond species, including rare plants and animals.

PondNet is offering FREE species identification and survey technique training for its volunteers and the general public with training sessions taking place across England and Wales.

These training sessions are linked to the species and habitat surveys often undertaken as a PondNet volunteer. However, the training is open to anyone who has a passion or an interest in freshwater identification and surveying.

There are a limited number of training spaces available on each session, with priority given to PondNet volunteers, so we would recommend booking your place quickly.

In 2017 the main focus for the training events will be on restricted species surveys with very little amphibian training available.

In order to put your name down for a training event, please check the map to see which region you are in. Once you have determined your region, click on the training links below for the different training sessions in your area and details on how to sign up.

See FHT website for further details http://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/pondnet/pondnet-training-events/


Contact us

Contact Us

Whatever your enquiry, we'd love to hear from you! Just email the most relevant address below and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

General enquiries - Secretary (anything else): newyorksarg@gmail.com

Amphibian related enquiries (newts, frogs and toads): newyorksamphibs@gmail.com

Reptile related enquiries (lizards, snakes and slow worms): newyorksreptiles@gmail.com




Data Requests - Unfortunately Yorkshire ARG do not hold records or have the provision to undertake record searches. Please contact the relevent local record centre; West Yorkshire Ecology http://www.ecology.wyjs.org.uk/, North and East Yorkshire  Ecological Data Centre http://www.neyedc.org.uk/.  South Yorkshire see http://www.ywt.org.uk/what-we-do/biodiversity/local-record-centres

The Yorkshire ARG Committee:

Chair: Andy McIlwraith
Secretary & Treasurer: Clare McIlwraith

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