Yorkshire Amphibian & Reptile Group
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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.



Happy New Year! - HWM booking closes on 7th January 2018.

Posted on Tuesday 2nd January, 2018


Another year has past us by and we welcome in 2018...!  Happy New Year to Yorkshire ARG members and non members.  We hope to have our annual meeting as usual in mid/late February following the HWM - details of which are below. I'll circulate details to members and add to the event page when we have a fixed date.


Dates for your diary – upcoming events: A quick reminder that bookings for the 2018 HWM which will be in Northampton on 3-4 February this year, close at midnight on 7th January.  If you wish to go do make sure you have registered by then.  One of the central points of our annual calendar, this is looking to be another great meeting, and we look forward to meeting many of you there.  For more on this follow this link: https://www.arc-trust.org/Event/hwm2018.

ARG UK is also sponsoring an important Scottish herpetofauna meeting, ‘The Amphibians and Reptiles of Scotland: Current Research, Future Challenges’, which will be held in Glasgow on 9th June 2018. Organised by Clyde ARG and the Glasgow Natural History Society, this conference will cover all aspects of amphibian and reptile conservation, and a number of our ARG folk are speaking. My understanding is that bookings are not yet open, but we have put a provisional programme on our web-page and will update it as soon as we have any news. https://www.arguk.org/get-involved/events/16-the-amphibians-and-reptiles-of-scotland-current-research-future-challenges


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



Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Autumn Meeting - Pond Management (and Social)

Sat 18th November, 2017 - Sat 18th November, 2017

                                                     nell bank logo

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 gordon.haycock@haycockandjay.co.uk or Clare or Andy via ARG email.

Friends of Gallows Hill - Fundraising Evening

Fri 17th November, 2017 - Fri 17th November, 2017

Please join The Friends of Gallows Hill in a social evening event in aid of the pond building fund.

                                                                                                    FGH logo

Friday 17th November  

at Otley Rugby Club   (LS21 1HE)

For directions see http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/otley

from 7.30pm

There will be music from a live band - Elysian & Balsamic

Raffle with great prizes to be won - all proceeds go towards this great cause!

Please come along and lend your support its set to be a great night!



Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows - Work Parties

Sun 8th October, 2017 - Sun 3rd December, 2017

                                                                                    Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows logo


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!

  • October 2017 Sunday 8th - Clearing Reedmace from Water Vole Scrape in Reservoir Basin
  • November 2017 Sunday 19th-  Coppicing and clearing within Blue Beck Copse
  • December 2017 Sunday 3rd - Clearing Reedmace from Water Vole Scrape in Reservoir Basin

Contact Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows (see website for more details) https://rawcliffemeadows.wordpress.com/ if you’d like to help out!

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 do come along 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!

Events runs from 11:00Am - if you do intend at volunteer on the stand please contact Ana Togridou who is acting as the lead Yorkshire ARG member hosting the stand on anatolitogridou@yahoo.gr.


A poster and timetable are attached.pdfWildlife_Day_2017_-_Timetable_of_Activities.pdfpdfWildlife_Day_-_Poster_A4_FINAL_June_2017.pdf



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

Sat 22nd April, 2017 - Sun 23rd April, 2017

Saturday 22nd April 2017 6.30pm – 10pm and

Sunday 23rd April 2017 8.30am – 10am approx.


Come and join the ARG for an evening (and morning) 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 conducting a survey of ponds present at the site; surveying will involve standard techniques for newt egg searching, bottle trapping and torchlight surveys, We will also 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. We will then return on Sunday morning to  retrieve bottle traps and see what we have caught!

Please meet at the entrance the wood meadow at 6.30pm. Directions to Three Hagges Wood-Meadow can be found on the following website  http://www.haggewoodstrust.org.uk/contact-us/ . The meeting point would be at the meadow entrance gate/Bodgers Den.

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

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.

Please ensure you dress in clothing appropriate to the weather conditions (i.e. waterproofs etc...).  As we will be working next to ponds suitable footwear such as wellingtons would be essential in addition to a head torch for night working. There will be a limited amount of high powered torches available from the group to use during torchlight surveys however if you have a torch at home you could bring that would be helpful.  Light refreshments will be on offer.

 Any queries please contact Clare McIlwraith on the main YARG email address.



Nell Bank Centre (Ilkley) - GCN Translocation Monitoring

Fri 7th April, 2017 - Sat 8th April, 2017


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.

Please meet in the car park at Nell Bank Centre, Ilkley (NGR SE 1263 4861) at 7:30pm. This is the site of GCN introduction undertaken 2009 – 2011. Small breeding population detected in 2015 so hoping for more this year. Torching Friday night and bottle trapping so meeting 7.30am Saturday morning too. There are also alpine newts (as well as common toad, common frog, palmate newt and smooth newt) at this site.

No need to book can just turn up if any queries please contact Gordon directly at gordon.haycock@haycockandjay.co.uk 



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/


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/


Amphibian Safari - Gallows Hill Otley

Fri 24th March, 2017


FGH logo

Amphibian Safari - joint event with Friends of Gallows Hill.  Evening walk to see amphibians as they head to the ponds for breeding. Toad Count will also be undertaken.

Meet at the car park located down gallows Hill Lane off Poll Road (see attached for location).  The reserve is located at NGR SE210459.

No formal booking required, but if you would like further information please contact Gordon Haycock at Gordon.haycock@gallowshill.org.uk


Contact us

Contact Us

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 - newyorksarg@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

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events will be listed here.

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