Welcome to CPARG - Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's local Amphibian and Reptile Group. ARGs are local, grassroots amphibian and reptile conservation groups spread out throughout the UK, usually organised by county. As a volunteer run group we get up to a whole range of activities – newt surveys, frogspawn counts, advice service, liaison with planning authorities and consultancies, data collection/collation, training, chytrid swabbing, talks and presentations. The opportunities are endless! Events are held on nature reserves and throughout the wider landscape, and while our focus is on Cambridgeshire there are good links between neighbouring ARGs with access to shared away-days, conferences and training available.
We are run by and for volunteers, and we'd like you to join. We're looking for members – people who might be interested in surveying, receiving training, attending talks, sharing their knowledge and experience, or getting involved in any way with amphibian and reptile conservation locally. We're also looking for new committee members to help with the running of the group, most importantly in organising and/or running events (surveys, training, talks, habitat management etc).
Map of some sites we work on:
Before you download and fill out your membership form, please read the ARG UK Generic Risk Assessment and ARG UK Lone Working Procedures. The membership fee is £5 and payment instructions can be found on the membership document below.
ARG UK Generic Risk Assessment - Click Here
ARG UK Lone Working Procedures - Click Here
CPARG Membership Form - Click Here
To find our about how CPARG is operated, please feel free to read the CPARG Constitution.
CPARG Constitution - Click Here
Please join our Facebook for discussions with other members.
Please follow us on Twitter for all of our latest updates.
Please follow our blog for updates on our events and activities!
On the evening of Friday 22nd February there was a meeting at the guided busway in Histon, for people who might be interested in toad patrolling and to see the busway site and the problems it has created for toads. It was too cold for toads to actually be moving but it was useful to see the site and for volunteers to hear about what toad patrolling involves. Sivi Sivanesan (Froglife), Jane Andrews-Gauvain (Cambridge & Peterborough Environmental Records Centre) and Rebecca Cattell (CPARG) were joined by several volunteers William Seale (Coordinator of Madingley Toad Patrol since 1988) and David Seilly. William has been advising the Council on protecting toads at the busway and David has patrolled the site previously. The site is currently in need of a toad patrol. David is unable to coordinate the site as he is also heavily involved with Madingley but he is willing to assist anyone who would like to take on the busway toads.
The busway cuts through the breeding migratory route for a large toad population as they make their way to and from the lake at the Holiday Inn site (Grid reference TL 44930 61922). Since the busway was installed many toads have been seen run over by the buses, or caught in the tracks and killed by desiccation. The track acts like a giant double pitfall trap, the concrete sides being too high for the toads to climb out once they have fallen in. They are then vulnerable to desiccation. The Council have attempted to mitigate for the problem by digging a number of scrapes along the track which creates tunnels, allowing toads (and other small wildlife) to pass underneath. Between scrapes, several small concrete shelters have been created adjacent to the track to allow toads to take shelter along the way, as they are mainly nocturnal and shelter during the daytime.
It is not known how many toads are successfully using the tunnels and it would be very useful to have this monitored as part of a patrol here. The scraped areas will also need clearing to prevent a build up of vegetation and debris, which would block any holes and would also allow toads to climb up onto the track. Anyone helping toads here need to be vigilant for bicycles and buses – both of which move fast and quietly. Hi-Viz clothing and headlights are a must. Anyone interested should contact Sivi for a Froglife toad patrol pack, which gives advice on patrolling and health and safety requirements. It was suggested at the meeting that bicycles would be very useful to use when patrolling at this site, as there is quite a length of track to cover. William has successfully used a bike for many years at the Madingley patrol.
Can you help? If anyone is interested in becoming a patrol coordinator or an assistant patroller for the busway toad population, or would like more information on what would be involved, please contact Sivi (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sivi coordinates toad patrols nationally for Froglife and provides lots of advice and assistance. There is no minimum commitment required and any help would be greatly appreciated. We also have a list of sites in Cambridgeshire where toads have been seen migrating in the past but we do not know if the population is still surviving. If you would like to check on any of these sites once it warms up and toads have started moving, please contact Rebecca for details (email@example.com). If you find a population that is suffering road mortality there is of course the option of setting up a patrol. If you would like to get involved recording toads or other wildlife for the local records centre, please contact Jane (Jane.Andrews-Gauvain@cperc.org.uk). On behalf of the toads – thanks!
Two new events have been added to the calendar for January - one each for amphibians and reptiles - both in Peterborough.
We'll be continueing the fine local tradition of pond digging with and for volunteers to make a new garden pond fit for newts on Sunday 13th, followed a fortnight later by some scrub management and bonfire socialising on the Hampton Nature Reserve on Saturday 26th.
Come February we're hoping to have our first habitat management session at Castor Flood Meadows, subject to final confirmation from Natural England.
We've also been offered a slot by the Cambridge Natural History Society to speak about CPARG and how people can get involved in Amphibian and Reptile conservation locally. Currently Paul Furnborough has volunteered to prepare and deliver this presentation, but if anyone else would like to take this on or gain some experience of public speaking please contact him (assistance is available if you'd like to but aren't confident taking it on solo).
To sign up to any of these events please check out our events tab and email the relevant event leader.
March heralds the start of the survey season, with most of our species out of hibernation and gearing up for breeding and a summer of activity. We'll be organising amphibian training days in Peterborough and probably Cambridge with a few to setting up volunteers to survey sites across the county - more details to follow.
There's much much more going on behind the scenes but hopefully that will wet your appetite for the new season.
See you all in 2013,
Paul and the Committee
In the last weekend of this November we shall be assisting Paul Doran and Guy Belcher from Cambridge City Council in restoring two of the concrete lined ponds at Cambridge City Crematorium (just off of the A14). The work will take us two days and will draining the old ponds, carefully removing all of the pond life, ripping up the old concrete before re-profiling the ponds before a new liner is laid (if time permits.
Please bring a packed lunch and wrap up sensibly depending on the weather, ensuring that you wear appropriate footwear.
We intend to start for 10am on both the Saturday and Sunday so please aim to be on site for 9:30am. If you do intend to attend and volunteer your time - please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we have a rough indication of numbers.
CPARG Chairman Steven Allain will be giving a joint talk between CPARG and the Cambridge Natural History Society titled 'Amphibian Conservation and Midwife Toads'. The talk will take place in the David Attenborough Building on Pembroke Street, Cambridge between 6:45 and 8:30pm. Steve will talk about the threats posed to amphibians by the chytrid fungus and his research regarding the Cambridge population of midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans). Entry to the talk costs £1.50.
To join our email list please email:
To join CPARG please contact Helen Moore, our Membership Secretary.
Please see contact details for specific volunteering opportunities in the Events tab. Alternatively, for regular fixed sessions see contacts below.
For information about local toad crossings or any toad crossing related queries please contact Mark Goodman, our Toads on Roads Officer.
Regular fixed sessions coming soon.
To submit photos of events, species or habitats to our gallery please email Ali North or upload them to our Facebook page and make it clear you'd like to see the photos posted on the website.
For general herp advice please check these excellent FAQs:
If the answer you need is not there please contact our Advice Officer, Malcolm Busby.
If you've seen what you suspect to be a non-native species then please contact Gary Miller.
We have a small team dealing with possible wildlife crimes committed against herp species - please contact Steve Parnwell who will liaise with the team.