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:
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.
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!
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, 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.
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 ( ). 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
Join us for an autumn meeting… comprising of pond clearing plus an evening social:
Gordon Haycock has organised a ‘pond clearing’ event at the GCN translocation ponds at the Nell Bank Centre in Ilkley. Join us on Saturday 18th November to help out improving the ponds at the site where GCN are thriving after a translocation conducted a few years ago. Would be good to meet up with YARG members old and new and any new potential members are welcome too.
The pond clearing is of two ponds at Nell Bank Centre which are choked with weed (mainly Canadian pondweed), which we will rake out and then leave on the bank for beasties to crawl back. Both are GCN breeding ponds and the work will increase suitability by creating open water. The work should only take a few hours (stay as long as you want). Gordon will be on hand to show people round the centre and provide details of the GCN translocation project.
Approximate agenda for the day (to be firmed up near the time)
Nell Bank Pond Clearance
2pm meet at Nell bank Centre, Ilkley
Short tour by Gordon Haycock
3-5pm approx. Pond clearing
Get cleaned up..!
~6pm Food at a pub or somewhere in Otley
Come for part of all of the afternoon/evening as desired. Pond clearance equipment provided (although if you have a spare rake bring it) . Bring wellingtons/waders and possibly a change of clothes (if staying for the evening).
Any queries please contact Gordon on email@example.com or Clare or Andy via ARG email.
Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows (one of the Freshwater Habitats Trust flagship sites located in our region) have a few work parties scheduled over the next few months, if you fancied joining in!
Contact Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows (see website for more details) https://rawcliffemeadows.wordpress.com/ if you’d like to help out!
Whatever your enquiry, we'd love to hear from you! Just email us and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
General enquiries - firstname.lastname@example.org
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