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 2021 - 2022 the committee elected at the AGM on 10th November 2021 are:
Chair - Kelvin Lawrence, Vice Chair - Christian Murray-Leslie, Secretary - Chris Monk, Treasurer - Jayne Thompson
Committee members - Garry Dorrell, Richard Fenn Griffin, James Longley, Sheila Stubbs, Trevor Taylor and Ben Wyke
Kelvin Lawrence is also the Derbyshire Toad Crossings Co-ordinator for the Group & for Froglife and Richard Fenn Griffen moderates our Facebook page
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
Field visit to record reptiles at one of our survey sites at Cromford, starting at 9.45am and lasting just under 2 hours. Contact us at email@example.com to find out details of meeting place in nearby car park, as event may be cancelled if there is bad weather. (Last year's April visit co-incided with a thunderstorm!)
A two day course at Hilton in South Derbyshire, starting at 10.30am on Saturday including field survey work in the afternoon and evening finishing at 11.15pm. Morning session on Sunday 15 May finishing around 11am.
Cost £25.00 (or £5.00 for members of Derbyshire ARG before 1st March 2016)
This training course is suitable for those wishing to work towards a Natural England GCN survey class license. It will include netting, egg searching, bottle trapping and torchlight surveys and information and demonstration of GCN eDNA sampling.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries or to book a place.
Field visit as part of the Freshwater Habitats Trust's PondNet project to take eDNA water samples for testing for presence of great crested newts in ponds at Pilsley near Hartington in the Peak District National Park. Contact us on email@example.com to book a place and receive details of time and meeting place.
We will be having a stand at this all day event organised by the Pleasley Pit Nature Study Group at this important Local Nature Reserve which supports good populations of amphibians and reptiles. 10.00am to 4.00pm
CANCELLED TODAY DUE TO WEATHER - TO BE RE-ARRANGED
Field visit to record reptiles at one of our survey sites near Hassop in the Peak District National Park, meeting at 9.15am and lasting just under 2 hours. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out details of meeting place in nearby car park, as event may be cancelled if there is bad weather. Note this site has a very steep slope in parts with loose scree and to access most of the location it requires a climb over a stock fence topped with barbed wire. Therefore suitable footware and agility is required to take part.
The Avenue Washlands Nature Reserve, Mill Lane, Wingerworth
We will be running pond dipping sessions and having a stand at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s "A Venue for Wildlife" event at this reserve which as an important site for amphibians and reptiles. 10.00am to 4.00pm
Derbyshire ARG will be having our stand at this popular weekend show organised by the County Council's Countryside Service at the wonderful Elvaston Castle Country Park just outside Derby. Come along and visit us, tell us about your sightings of amphibians and reptiles, learn more about them, colour in the ARGUK colouring sheets (for children of all ages). Entry free but car parking charge applies. Open from 10am to 4pm both days
Morning event from 10.00 to 13.00 to rake out invading Glyceria and do a little silt clearance from dewpond that supports newts, frogs and toads near Hartington. Tools will be provided. Meeting place Hartington Station car park on the Tissington Trail between Ashbourne and Buxton. Please let us know that you will be coming and find out extra details by emailing email@example.com.
Approximate dates for 2017 toad patrols helping toads across the road at around 20 sites across Derbyshire. If you would like to assist let us know and we will put you in contact with the nearest patrol.
Derbyshire ARG spring meeting and AGM
Will be held at The Whistlestop Centre Education building, Matlock Bath Station, Derbyshire from 2pm to 4.30pm
Talk by Kevin Palmer of Reaseheath College on research projects on adders and grass snakes. Highlights from last October's Vanishing Viper adder meeting and a presentation on the proposals from Natural England for District Level Licensing that were shown at the 2017 Herpetofauna Workers Meeting followed by the AGM which usually lasts for no more than 15 minutes!