Welcome to Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group we cover the whole of Derbyshire including part of the Peak District National Park.
Our group aims to promote the study and conservation of the amphibians and reptiles of Derbyshire and their habitats. We achieve this by:
We hope our website will help you to find the information you are looking for, but if you still have a query, please contact us and we will do our best to help.
Derbyshire ARG always welcome new members to the group, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to join. There is a membership subscription of £5 per year, though that is reviewed at every AGM..
We are very grateful for any records of amphibians and reptiles in your local area that you can pass to us as it helps in mapping the distribution of species and protecting their known habitats. Either contact us directly or use the Record a sighting tab on this website.
The group is run by a committee which is elected at the AGM each year. For 2024 - 2025 the committee elected at the AGM on 13th January 2024 are:
Chair - Kelvin Lawrence, Vice Chair - Christian Murray-Leslie, Secretary - Chris Monk, Treasurer - Jayne Thompson
Committee members - Garry Dorrell, Richard Fenn Griffin, Chris Hallam, James Longley, Sheila Stubbs and Ben Wyke
Kelvin Lawrence is also the Derbyshire Toad Crossings Co-ordinator for the Group & for Froglife
See a previous newsletters here
Derbyshire ARG data policy
The Group's outdoor programme has now finished for this year, though we are attending one more indoor event in November and hope to set up an indoor members meeting & AGM in January or February..
The pond surveys carried out in the Peak District in the north of the county and in the National Forest in the south of the county were sucessful in involving a large number of members. They resulted in updated and new records of all 5 species of amphibians native to the county (common frog, common toad, smooth newt, palmate newt and great crested newt).The findings were reported to the landowners, Peak District National Park Authority, farmers and detailed site survey reports were done for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the National Forest Company, the Woodland Trust and the Rosliston Forestry Centre (run by South Derbyshire District Council and Forestry England).
Members and local residents/volunteers participated in the toad crossing patrols at many sites across the county and adder emergence surveys were carried out in the Peak District as happens every year.
Reptile surveys were carried out at our two cover object survey sites at Hassop and at Linacre with sightings of common lizard, slow-worm and grass snake. Initially this year looked as though it would continue the run of cancellations due to bad weather for the Stanage visual surveys at North Lees after a run of 5 cancellations starting last year and again this spring & early summer. Eventually in August & early September we had better luck and actually managed to get out, survey and find lots of common lizards, including the first records from one of the moorland sites. We hope to get SSSI permissions for installing some cover object arrays next year in areas away from public pressure in the hope of finding some of the elusive snakes reported up there and for evidence of slow-worms. Meetings and advice were given to the National Trust about surveys and habitat works that could be undertaken on one of their sites that has an important grass snake population.
Our stall and display were taken to two public events this year, we were invited to the Friends of Pleasley Pit's Wildlife Day at the Pleasley Pit Country Park in May and in mid September we again attended the annual Derbyshire Woodland Festival at Elvaston Castle Country Park, The latter managed to avoid the rain, which turned up just after it closed on the second day and we spoke to numerous people about our native reptiles and amphibians and took many records of casual sightings people had made in their garden or out in the countryside.
Our stand at the Woodland Festival
Derbyshire ARG was invited to a couple of meetings in January & February dealing with those issues
Firstly there was a seminar organised by Natural England to seek information on possible species recovery or re-introduction in the county for their upcoming grant scheme for projects.
Unfortunately there are no amphibian or reptile species that could be re-introduced into the county as the geology and weather means that the county is not suitable for any of the native species that are not already present (Smooth snake, Sand Lizard, Natterjack Toad or Pool Frog). Although we would like to see species recovery particularly to extend the adder population in the Peak District there is not enough information on how to successfully carry this out at present and certainly not within the short timescale for the grant scheme.
Last Friday 10th February the ARG Chair and Secretary attended the first Bolsover Local Nature Recovery Summit meeting at the Bolsover District Council Offices. The Council and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust had produced an Action Plan for Nature Recovery across the District. It was attended by a large number of representatives of wildlife groups, parish councils and community groups who also took part in workshop sessions across 3 themes.
Our suggestions of following up on the several registered toad crossings across the District as we do not know of any volunteer groups covering the crossings or of other unregistered sites. We also supported the creation and survey of more ponds across the District and suggested we hoped to re-establish a grass snake egg laying heap at one site where a former wildlife group had built them in the past and they were used by the snakes.
At the request of Severn-Trent Water's ranger in March 2022 we gave a presentation on reptile surveying to his volunteer party As occasional sightings of grass snakes have been made around the reservoirs we laid out a mixture of cover objects. In early September we organised a reptile survey field trip to check on the survey cover objects and 4 grass snakes were found at two locations. It is planned to continue the survey next year in spring 2023.
Large adult grass snake with it's head down a hole
Habitat pile created by S-T Water ranger & his volunteers cutting back dense stands of Rosebay willowherb and stacking the arisings. These will be good for grass snakes.
Thank you to the members who helped with
these surveys this spring. 16 members helped
out on one or more surveys and in total 67 ponds
were surveyed, mostly by torchlight, 4 by bottle
trapping and at 2 water samples were taken for
testing for great crested newts by environmental
DNA as part of the Freshwater Habitats Trust’s
PondNet survey now in its 8th year. The results
from the eDNA are not yet available but for the
other 65 ponds great crested newts were found
in 36 ponds.
Walled concrete dewpond, torch light survey showed great crested and smooth newts present
Water sampling for Freshwater Habitats Trust's PondNet GCN eDNA project
Again in 2022 we will be helping Freshwater Habitats Trust with their long running Great Crested Newt eDNA survey that they set up in 2015 with a series of randomly selected locations across England. Since 2016 Derbyshire ARG has been sampling a field pond near Hartington in the Peak District National Park every year and we will be visiting there again this May. This pond has a low population of great crested newts and has returned a mixture of positive and negative tests over the years suggesting that in some years the newts are absent from the pond. Since 2020 we have also taken on doing the other Derbyshire site at North Wingfield south of Chesterfield. This is a fishing pond that was created during the landscaping following open casting and removal of local collieries. Due to the presence of large numbers of fish this pond has always tested negative for great crested newts but we will still be taking samples there in May.
Photo of the 2021 sampling near Hartington
Toads on roads patrols in Derbyshire started earlier than normal in mid-February in lowland parts of Derbyshire, especially those sites in the southern half of the county. However there was no more than a night or two in toad movement at upland sites in the Peak District before temperatures dropped to normal for the second half of February, which also caused a fall in movement in southern Derbyshire.
With only normal temperatures forecast for March it is expected that eventually our toad patrols will continue into late March or early April.
If you want to volunteer to help with this years toad crossings please email our toad coordinator on Derbyshire toads coordinator
We will be running pond surveys across the National Forest area in southern Derbyshire. Details to be confirmed
As in previous years we will be running a programme of torchlight surveys of dewponds across the White Peak area of the Peak District National Park These include checking on ponds that have been restored by the PeaK District National Park Authority through earlier grant funded programmes or their current Farming in Protected Landscape Scheme. The aim is to assess the success of restoring ponds for the newts particularly the great crested newt to colonise restored ponds and to monitor continued amphibian presence in suite of ponds that are surveyed every year.
A few ponds may be bottle trapped and we are waiting to hear from the Freshwater Habitats Trust whether they will be running a tenth year of their PondNet Great Crested Newt eDNA Project. There are two sites in Derbyshire we take the water samples for them, one near Hartington in the Peak District National Park and one near North Wingfield in NE Derbyshire.
The programme of surveys is still to be confirmed but if interested in taking part please contact us at email@example.com
Part of a programme of walks organised by Groundwork Five Counties for the National Forest Company
This year Derbyshire ARG will be leading the pond walk at New Lount Nature Reserve in the Leicestershire part of the National Forest. The walk will last around 2 hours
Further details and booking for this free event will be publicised by Groundwork nearer the date.
Our attendance to be confirmed nearer the time.
Event organised by the Pleasley Pit Nature Study Group, held by the old engine house.
To be confirmed
There is a bioblitz planned by National Trust Rangers at Staunton Harold Reservoir for Thursday 30th and Friday 31st between 10.00am and 2.00pm both days.
Derbyshire ARG has been asked to take part, further details nearer the time.