Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group
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About us

About Us

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:

Click Here

Membership Documents

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

Social Networking


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!



Volunteers needed for the Big Spawn count!

Posted on Monday 14th March, 2016

It’s that time of year again – soon many garden ponds across the country will be bubbling with hundreds of croaking toads and frogs, and your help is needed to record all that spawn!

Amphibians are commonly found breeding in garden ponds, and data gathered by volunteers is vital in better understanding just how important gardens are for these species. Spawn counts can be used to estimate population sizes and species distributions, an important way of monitoring the status of our amphibians and identifying ways to better conserve them!

It’s really simple, all you have to do is fill in some basic information online; the size and depth of your pond, whether the pond has fish in it, and how much spawn (frog or toad) you can see!


Check out the Fresh Water Habitats website here for more details!

Cambridge toads are on the move!

Posted on Tuesday 8th March, 2016

As the evenings are very slowly getting warmer, toads have been awakening from their sleepy slumber and are now on the move! Their migration from hibernacula to natal spawning ponds can however be lengthy and pretty treacherous. Unfortunately many breeding ponds are now surrounded by an urban environment, making road crossing a necessary, but perilous task.

Toads on Roads and Toad Size are two projects aiming to alleviate and better understand the risk of roads on toad populations. Volunteers collect toads from road sides and help them safely reach their pond for breeding. The level of traffic flow and number of deceased individuals found is also recorded. The Toad Size project involves the measuring of male toads at these road sites to determine whether road mortality is influencing the age structure of populations. Preliminary results show the importance of frequent toad patrols for reducing mortality and enabling a more varied age structure, and the impact of crossing distance on toad size.  Further research is however needed from more sites across the country.

So we at CPARG have just begun Toad Patrol and Toad Size activities for the year, with three outings so far. This is the second year of Toad on Road activities at this specific site, and the first year we have been collecting data for Toad Size.  Our first visit resulted in 152 males safely delivered to the pond. Visit two was on a fairly cold night and resulted in a much more modest number of 19, with 1 of these being scooped out from the depths of a drain, whilst visit number 3 saved 119 toads.

Have you been out helping toads cross roads? Or have you seen sites that could do with some assistance? Let us know! For more information about these projects, check out the website links below, or for more specific Cambridge related queries, contact our Toads on Roads Officer Mark Goodman at

Find more information about the Toads on Roads Project here and the Toad Size Project here.

CPARG volunteers help manage ponds for great crested newts (and other amphibians!)

Posted on Tuesday 8th March, 2016

Careful pond and land management is needed to ensure the persistence of amphibian populations in the UK, especially for the Great crested newt (GCN), a species that has seen rapid declines in the past 50 years.  Threats facing amphibians in the UK are largely linked to agricultural intensification, pollution, disease and the introduction of non-native species such as ornamental fish.  Great crested newts have been largely effected by these changes due to their specialist habitat requirements.

The cement-lined ponds at Cambridge city crematorium have been monitored for amphibians since 2013. It was then that CPARG investigated a possible GCN sighting and were pleased to confirm a breeding population of the species, as well as a healthy population of smooth newts.

As appropriate management of remaining GCN populations is important, in early January CPARG volunteers gathered at this GCN site to give the ponds some TLC. An ideal pond for GCN has both extensive submerged and floating aquatic vegetation as well as more open areas for males to woo the ladies with their mating displays. To improve these ponds we therefore dragged out dead vegetation that had been clogging them up, reducing the quality of the habitat and making population monitoring difficult.

We carefully checked and recorded all the material being removed from the pond for life; we found an array of invertebrates including water boatmen and dragonfly larvae, as well as two GCN, three smooth newts and one common frog.

Now the dead vegetation has been removed and the live vegetation trimmed a little, the plants needed for newt egg laying will be able to better flourish and hopefully we’ll see the benefits of our labour later this year during the survey season!


Do you know of any great crested newt populations? Let us know! For more information about how to effectively manage your garden pond for amphibians, check out the Froglife website here.

Frogwatch – Big Garden Spawn Count Volunteers Needed!

Posted on Saturday 28th December, 2013

Do you have a garden pond?  Do you ever see frogs in your garden?


Lots of people would answer yes to at least one of these questions but unfortunately conservation organisations know very little about where frogs are found or how well they’re doing.  But as urban dwellers as well as rural, frogs offer a great opportunity for the public to get face-to-face with wildlife and to contribute to its wellbeing.  For two years the Freshwater Habitats Trust (formerly Pond Conservation) has been running a simple project to make this link. 

Members of the public who are lucky enough to spot frog spawn in their ponds are asked to fill in a simple online record form which then gets logged with others across the country to help answer these questions!  This survey will also pick up on any toadspawn present…but it doesn’t look out for newts so we should still promote either Record Pool or CPERC to capture these records: or

The data from this survey will then be shared with county-based organisations to help fill in some of the gaps on their local frog maps.

This year Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group (CPARG) will be promoting this project within our Cambridgeshire patch, contributing both to answering the big questions nationally (e.g. what sort of ponds do frogs like) and providing our partners at CPERC with up-to-date records of breeding frogs.

We’re looking for a team of confident volunteers to send out press releases to local media (online, papers, radio and TV) and to be available for interview to promote this project, CPARG’s other survey opportunities, and amphibian and reptile conservation generally.

If you might be interested in pitching this conservation message to local media please email us on and CC in or call Paul for an informal chat on 07508020437.

This project would suit confident, friendly-sounding people either with or who would like to get some media experience.

Frogs could start breeding as early as February – or even sooner if we have a mild winter/early spring – so we’d like to have people signed up and ready to be interviewed by the end of January if possible.  Good luck spreading the frog-count word!

Castor Palmate Project

Posted on Saturday 28th December, 2013

CPARG is looking for one or two dedicated volunteer to co-ordinate the Castor Palmate Newt Project – aiming to see how far beyond the known population at Castor Hanglands National Nature Reserve (NNR) this species’ distribution might reach.


Palmate newts are very rare in Cambridgeshire with only two records showing on the CPERC database from 1950-2012!  One of the few sites this species is known at is Castor Hanglands NNR, managed by Natural England.  In 2012 CPARG led an amphibian ID and survey session which inspired a group of us to go on and survey all the ponds here for palmates.  Castor Hanglands once again earned its reputation as a top site, with all five widespread amphibians found and several ponds showing palmates, even on these late-season surveys.

Palmate newts are easily overlooked and can be mistaken for the more common smooth newt, but we know they’re present in the area and a skilled or trained eye can pick out the differences easily.  This year we’d like to spread our net wider than the nature reserve and see whether the newts are surviving in the wider countryside.

The co-ordinator post would involve the following jobs.  These can be split between individuals either by stage or within each stage.  CPARG or the CPARG Committee can advise and assist with any of the actions listed – and of course, if as you get into the project you find that there are further avenues you’d like to pursue then the project can evolve under your direction.

Stage 1:

  • ·         Identifying from googlemaps (both aerial and map views) ponds in the surrounding area:
  • ·         Identifying further ponds from OS maps (which CPARG can provide)
  • ·         Identify landowners for these ponds
  • ·         Contacting landowners to request permission to survey
  • ·         Updating the CPARG Committee on progress or problems





Stage 2:

  • ·         Organise an amphibian/palmate newt survey and training day for CPARG members
  • ·         Undertake and/or co-ordinate sufficient and varied newt surveys at each of the sites to confidently confirm presence/absence of palmates
  • ·         Collate and digitise all data from this project
  • ·         Share the data with CPERC




To express interest in this project please email and cc or call Paul on 07508020437 for an informal chat.  



Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Amphibian Disease Monitoring Workshop

Wed 6th April, 2016 - Wed 6th April, 2016

When: Wednesday 6th April, 6:30-7:30pm.

Where: Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, CB1 1PT, Room Hel110 (will be signposted)

Amphibian disease are one of the leading causes of declines seen in the group globally. Come along to a workshop run by CPARG Chairman Steven Allain whom will be covering everything you need to know about amphibian disease. He will also talk on the importance of biosecurity and demonstrate how to test amphibians for the presence of known diseases. The workshop is free to all but your attendance must be confirmed in advance, to do so please send Steven an email.

Toads on Roads

Wed 23rd March, 2016 - Wed 23rd March, 2016

Help us safely transport toads to their breeding ponds TONIGHT! We'll be meeting at the corner of Stanley Road and Oyster Row in Central Cambridge at 9pm. Please wear warm clothing and appropriate footwear. Hope you can make it!


Sun 28th February, 2016 - Sun 28th February, 2016

It's that time of year again for CPARG to host it's Annual General Meeting.

This year the AGM will be hosted at Romsey Mill, Mill Road, Cambridge on Sunday 28th February. The AGM will begin promptly at 3pm with a planned end at 4:45pm. During the AGM we will be given a talk by renowned herpetologist Professor Richard Griffiths, with the title Newting around the UK over four decades.

There is no parking available at the venue itself but there is in the streets surrounding it. More information will be available soon.

Cambridge City Crematorium Pond Management

Sat 9th January, 2016 - Sat 9th January, 2016

We will be working to remove dead leaves and overgrown pond plants from the four concrete-lined ornamental ponds at Cambridge City Crematorium on Saturday 9th January. The ponds are home to our common amphibian species as well as the rarer great crested newt. Please feel free to join us between 10am and 3pm. If you do plan on coming to lend a hand please wear warm clothes and bring stout footwear, make sure you bring a packed lunch. All tools will be supplied, there are toilets on site as well as a mess room with tea/coffee facilities.

The city crematorium is just outside of Cambridge to the north, off of the A14 before you reach Bar Hill.

Camouflage and sexual signals in Aegean wall lizards

Mon 30th March, 2015 - Tue 31st March, 2015

Title: Camouflage and sexual signals in Aegean wall lizards (Podarcis erhardii), as seen by their mates and predators

Speaker: Kate Marshall

Location: Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge. Room LAB027.

Date & Time: Monday 30th March, 7:30pm.

Abstract: Aegean wall lizards (Podarcis erhardii) exhibit striking colour divergence among varying island environments, and Kate's PhD has explored why this variation has arisen. In this talk, Kate will present recent results from UV imaging and visual modelling showing that P. erhardii are conspicuous to their mates while simultaneously being camouflaged to hunting birds, and that this differs among varying local environments. Kate will discuss how the competing demands of camouflage and sexual signalling are reconciled by interactions between natural and sexual selection, and how this may contribute to diversification among populations of the same species and eventual speciation.

Monitoring Great Crested Newts at Woodwalton Fen

Thu 12th March, 2015 - Thu 30th April, 2015

Terry and Helen Moore will be carrying out monitoring of great crested newts at Woodwalton Fen and the Wildlife Trust Countryside Centre at Ramsey Heights in March and April. If you would like more information, please contact them by emailing

CPARG AGM with a talk from Tom Langton

Mon 2nd February, 2015 - Mon 2nd February, 2015

This year the CPARG AGM is going to be held at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. The AGM is expected to take approximately half an hour, commencing from 7:30pm. If you would like to join the committee and be more involved with the running of CPARG then maybe you would like to stand for one of the positions that will become open at the AGM. For more information, please see the latest edition of our newsletter.

After the AGM, there will be a talk from Tom Langton, the renowned ecologist who is currently the Herpetofauna Consultants Internationals Managing Director. He has extensive field experience in habitat management, herpetofauna and other vertebrates and has published a popular book on British reptiles titled 'Snakes and Lizards'.

Topic: What happened to our planning system and how can we respond?

When: Monday 2nd February, 7:30-9pm.

Where: Anglia Ruskin University, East Road. Room: LAB005. For your satnavs - CB1 1PT.

The event is free for CPARG Members.

The image above gives you a rough idea of the entrances to the university and where the room is. The room, LAB005, is on the ground floor of the Lord Ashcroft Building and is on the Broad Street side of the university. The closest available parking is at the Grafton centre further down on East Road.

All about Amphibians. Illustrated talk by Terry Moore

Wed 24th September, 2014 - Wed 24th September, 2014

The talk will include information on how to identify amphibians found in the UK and some recent discoveries about the relationships and bizarre breeding habitats of this group! Terry will also briefly discuss current threats to amphibians, including amphibian diseases. Terry Moore has been surveying for amphibians and great crested newts in particular since the early 1970s. Until the new biodiversity recording system, he held the official records for all great crested newt sites within the old county of Cambridgeshire. 

Location: St. John the Evangelist Church Hall, Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 8RN

Time: 7:30pm - 9:30pm

Price: The talk is being held by the local Wildlife Trust so the talk is £2 for Trust members and £3 for non-members.

For more information please use this link.

Cambridge Amphibian Surveys

Mon 14th April, 2014 - Fri 27th June, 2014

Throughout the next couple of months, myself and a fellow CPARG member are going to be running a number of amphibians inside (and just outside of) Cambridge. The table below displays all of the relevant information for each site. Surveys will be weather dependent and some sites will not be able to cater for large numbers of surveyors.

Grid Reference
Approx. Time
TL 46483 59572
TL 51367 62702
Snakey Path
TL 47537 57486
Bar Hill Crem
TL 39939 62634
Cottenham Ponds
TL 44945 68055

If you would sign up please email me at or call me on 07472235469. These surveys will mostly take place weekly (or almost weekly as I am out of the country for most of this week). I will also have more details incase anyone needs to know about parking/car shares etc.

Wildlife Trust Training Workshop: Introduction to Amphibians

Sat 12th April, 2014 - Sat 12th April, 2014

The workshop will cover the identification, life histories and habitats of our native amphibians and surveying for the protected great crested newt including health and safety and legislation. Participants will gain experience in assessing habitats and surveying for great crested newts on this former brickyard.

The workshop will run from 3:15pm to around 9:15pm at Ramsey Heights, Cambridgeshire. 

For more information you can click here.

Photo gallery

Photo Gallery

Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013

Contact us

Contact Us

To join our email list please email: and CC

To discuss projects or partnerships please contact Steven Allain, Chair or telephone 07472235469.


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.



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