We are a small informal group. We welcome both people who prefer to work as individuals but sometimes feel the Group can help in some way and people who prefer to work in cooperation with others. We occasionally organise outings and training sessions particularly for people who wish to qualify for a GCN license.
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.
Over the years we have not surveyed many ponds in arable fields. This year, though, as part of a survey of Great Crested Newts in the Marston Vale organised by Daniel Piec and Britt Cordi of Natura International and funded by SITA (see news item of 4th March 2013) we included farm ponds. In one arable field we found three ponds. All of them, rather to our surprise, held reasonable GCN populations. One was connected to a hedge, one was in a corner near a lane but the third was completely surrounded by the arable field. None had a significant protective strip of land around them but trees were growing in all three ponds. [See Photo Gallery]
GCN larvae on 28th July 2013
Posted on Wednesday 31st July, 2013
We were very please to net 28 GCN larvae in a small pond near Cople on 28th July 2013: earlier in the year we had found lots of eggs, and seen good numbers of adults by torchlight. The success of a pond, though, depends on the number of larvae which emerge in the autumn. The July dry spell has resulted in some local ponds failing to hold water. The recent thunderstorms should have replenished most of those still capable of supporting larvae. The Cople pond is deep (with very few shallow areas) and had plenty of water when we visited. Hopefully there will be good numbers of GCN larvae emerging later this year. This is especially important as other local ponds are in poor condition – Duck Weed and overshadowing are the main problems. See Photo Gallery.
Toadlets at Saxon Gate: 10th July 2013
Posted on Wednesday 10th July, 2013
We visited Richard’s Pond at Saxon Gate this afternoon to see how the toad and frog spawn had developed. There has been very little rain recently and we were concerned the pond might have dried up before the froglets and toadlets had emerged. We need not have worried – the pond is low but still holds water and we saw lots of toadlets at the muddy edge of the pond. No froglets were visible but they have probably dispersed. In out experience the toadlets will hang around the pond waiting for a wet day and then all disperse at the same time whereas froglets disperse one by one. See Picture Gallery for well camouflaged toadlets!
Sandy Smith LNR: GCN in new ponds
Posted on Sunday 23rd June, 2013
The Great Crested Newt population at the Greensand Trust reserve, Sandy Smith LNR, has increased dramatically over the three seasons we have been surveying ponds there. The main pond, the Decoy Pond, had good numbers of GCN eggs when we looked on 22nd June as well as plenty of Smooth Newt eggs and larvae. What pleased us perhaps even more is that two new ponds, dug in September 2011, had both been colonised by GCN. In the shallower one, called the ‘Small New Pond’ for convenience, we found both GCN eggs and larvae. In the other deeper ‘Large New Pond’, we found only a very few eggs and also, unfortunately, fish. It will be very interesting to see how these two ponds develop. Compare recent pictures of both new ponds with older ones: the Large New Pond when it had just been excavated and the Small New Pond in spring 2012; see Photo Gallery.
Lizard seen at Biggleswade railway station
Posted on Sunday 23rd June, 2013
The website has been neglected for the past two months or so because the surveying season (for GCN) has been so hectic. A late start caused by the cold spring meant we lost a month. There is a pause now until August when will do some netting for larvae to see how successful breeding has been. We have not, though, entirely neglected other species. We were convinced there must be Common Lizards on the railway embankment at Biggleswade station since they were known to be at Arlesey a few miles south. Over the years we have looked for them whenever we have been waiting for a train and the weather was suitable (not often). It was not until last week, though, that we actually saw one. It was on the concrete conduit (for cables etc.) at the bottom of the embankment on the eastern side. This shows it is worth doing some reptile surveying wherever you are!