Derbyshire Amphibian and Reptile Group
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About us

About Us

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:

  • raising awareness of the ecology and conservation needs of Derbyshire's amphibians and reptiles
  • undertaking practical conservation projects
  • running approximately 20 Toads on Road patrols at locations across the county every spring during the toad migration season
  • carrying out regular reptile surveys and amphibian surveys
  • organising amphibian and reptile training sessions for members and the public
  • providing advice and information and answering queries for the public
  • developing recording, monitoring and research intitatives
  • providing a forum for those interested in amphibians and reptiles
  • working in partnership with other relevant organisations

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 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





2023 Surveys and Events

Posted on Friday 22nd September, 2023

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.

20230917 115325

Our stand at the Woodland Festival

Nature and Species Recovery in Derbyshire

Posted on Sunday 12th February, 2023

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.

Linacre reservoirs reptile survey

Posted on Friday 16th September, 2022

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.

20220910 Large adult grass snake

Large adult grass snake with it's head down a hole

20220910 Habitat pilejpg

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.

Results of our 2022 Peak District & north Derbyshire pond surveys

Posted on Friday 16th September, 2022

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.

2022 03 08 walled concrete dewpond

Walled concrete dewpond, torch light survey showed great crested and smooth newts present


20220514 GCN eDNA water sampling

Water sampling for Freshwater Habitats Trust's PondNet GCN eDNA project


PondNet GCN eDNA survey

Posted on Friday 22nd April, 2022

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


2021 06 09 PondNet Pilsbury E3gegx4X



Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Natterjack Toads talk and Derbyshire ARG AGM

Sat 2nd March, 2019 - Sat 2nd March, 2019

Derbyshire ARG AGM & Spring meeting from 2.30 to 4.30pm

2.30 pm Talk by Dr Graham Rowe, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Sciences at Derby University about Natterjack Toads in the British Isles, their conservation and what we can learn from their genetic patterns. Graham spent a decade working on Natterjack Toad research at the University of Sussex with Prof. Trevor Beebee.

Followed by the Derbyshire ARG AGM at 4.00pm

Venue: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust HQ, Sandy Hill, Main Street, Middleton by Wirksworth, DE4 4LR

Free parking at venue

2.00 pm

A Natter About Natterjacks: Ice Age Genetics Patterns and the Conservation of the Natterjack Toad in Britain.  

Presentation by Dr Graham Rowe, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Ecology at Derby University


3.25 pm Tea / coffee break


 3.40 pm    Group Annual General Meeting

  1. Apologies for absence
  1. Matters arising from the minutes of the 2018 AGM
  1. Chair’s Report
  1. Membership subscription - the committee proposes that a membership subscription fee of £5.00 is introduced in 2019
  1. Treasurer ‘s Report
  1. Election of  Group Officers

     Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer

7.  Election of committee members

     There are currently vacancies for 2 further committee members

  1. Any other formal business
4.00 pm

County Toads Crossing Co-ordinator Role

Kelvin Lawrence

Including preparation for the Toads on Roads 2019 season, updated guidance and renewal of volunteer insurance forms for toad crossing volunteers.

  4.30 pm   Close

Toad crossings

Mon 4th March, 2019 - Mon 1st April, 2019

Depending on weather conditions across the county we will be running our volunteer toad crossing patrols at various sites across the county from Overseal in the south to Furness Vale in the north. These may start & finish earlier if weather is mild and damp.

If you would like to volunteer please contact our County Toad Crossing Co-Ordinator Kelvin Lawrence at

Adder field survey meeting

Sat 23rd March, 2019 - Sat 23rd March, 2019

Members only event

Details & location to be confirmed

GCN Survey training course

Sat 4th May, 2019 - Sun 5th May, 2019

Great Crested Newts and Licensing for Surveys training course.

Saturday 4th May and Sunday 5th May 2019

Hilton, South Derbyshire

A one day training course and field survey session on the Saturday followed by shorter field survey session on the Sunday morning.

This will cover Species ID, Ecology, Legal status and Licensing, Great crested newt survey methods including environmental DNA (eDNA), the GCN Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) and Biosecurity, followed by field sessions demonstating survey methods, including bottle trapping and torchlight surveys.

This course is open to non-members at a cost of £30 Opportuntities after the course to gain further experience by taking part in Derbyshire ARG GCN survey trips in the Peak District National Park and adjacent areas.




Course details pdfGCN_Training_Course_details_2019.pdf


Torchlight amphibian surveys

Tue 7th May, 2019 - Sat 1st June, 2019

The survey on 14th May is now fully booked but we will be surveying other sites in May, particularly monitoring great crested newt colonisation of newly restored dewponds in the Peak District National Park and monitoring some nature reserve ponds in Derbyshire. If you are interested in joining a survey please contact is on

Newt survey

Sat 11th May, 2019 - Sun 12th May, 2019

To install bottle traps for a newt survey at a site near Hartington in the Peak District National Park.

Start time on Saturday 17.00 duration approximately 2 hours, followed up by visit to check and remove traps on Sunday morning at 9.30am

To book a place email us at

PondNet GCN eDNA survey

Sat 18th May, 2019 - Sat 18th May, 2019

Field trip to undertake 5th year of eDNA sampling for Freshwater Habitats Trust's PondNet Project at the Pilsbury site near Hartington in the Peak District National Park. So far we have had two years with positive and two years with negative eDNA results for great crested newt presence in the pond. Also to complete the Pond Habitat survey recording form on site

Start time 9.30am, duration approximately 2 hours (its a long walk to the pond from the nearest farm!)

To book a place email us at

Hardwick Hall Bioblitz

Sat 29th June, 2019 - Sat 29th June, 2019

We will be at the National Trust's Bioblitz on their Hardwick Hall estate between 10am and 4pm.

Apart from our information display on native amphibians and reptiles which will be in the Stableyard you can join us as we carry out a reptile survey at various locations within the estate to see what species we can find.

Derbyshire Countryside Service's Woodland Festival at Elvaston Castle Country Park

Sat 21st September, 2019 - Sun 22nd September, 2019

We will be at this popular annual event again this year with our information display on native amphibians and reptiles, together with childrens activities and asking adults for any herpetological sightings.


DANES Annual Show

Sat 9th November, 2019 - Sat 9th November, 2019

We will be having a stand at the annual Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Entomological Society's  Exhibition / Insect Show at Nottingham Trent University, Brackenhurst Campus, Southwell, Notts, NG25 0QF. The campus is located on the A612 Nottingham Road. Onsite refreshments will be available. Full details to follow.

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For Toad Crossings and to contact our Derbyshire Toad Crossings Co-ordinator please email

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