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 email@example.com 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
Toad crossing patrols are underway at around 20 sites in Derbyshire. Due to the recent very dry spell with old evenings under clear skies several sites have had hardly any toads appearing. Hopefully the weather will eventually become better for toads to finish their migration.
As in previous years we will be running a series of evening torchlight surveys across the White Peak area of the Peak District National Park. These are to monitor colonisation of ponds that have been restored under the various funding streams in recent years in the National Park. There may also be some bottle trapping surveys and possibly great crested newt eDNA water sampling as well.
After a productive meeting with National Forest staff in late March it is hoped to run some pond surveys for amphibians on sites identified by the National Forest company on its own land in South Derbyshire. Further details to follow.
Morning visit to the field pond near Hartington to collect water sample for eDNA testing. Meeting 10.00am Duration 2 hours - it's a one kilometre walk from the road to the pond which is on the meeting place of four fields and divided by dry stone walls and stock fencing into four quarters. Contact us for location details
Refugia survey of old lead mining area scree slopes for slow-worms and ocassionally common lizard and toad.
This event is being held at The Land Trust's Avenue Country Park off the A61 at Wingerworth between10.00am and 3.00pm
We will be having a stand at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Family Fun Day to talk to people about amphibians and reptiles. The main theme of the event is wetlands and the day will encompass stands by local community groups and organisations, highlighting nature education and engagement. Activities will include pond dipping, insect hunting, bug house making, nature and identification walks, den building and nature themed arts & crafts activities
Third time lucky as was cancelled in 2020 & 2021 due to Covid.
Chesterfield local group of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Avenue Washlands Nature Reserve event off Mill Lane at Wingerworth Main event running from 10.00 to 16.00
We will be having a stall and running pond dipping sessions at 12.00 and 14.30 Pond has good range of invertebrates and smooth & great crested newts.
Other species groups will be doing bird ringing at 07.00 and moth trapping at 22.00
Reptile survey visit to Severn Trent Water's Linacre Reservoirs near Chesterfield which has records for grass snake and common lizard. As well as a visual survey on site we will be checking cover objects which were laid out in March this year.
Please email the group on firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place. Car parking charges apply (£3.00 for over 2 hours)
Survey dependent on weather conditions so may be postponed to a new date if continuous rain is forecast for the day.
Photo showing Severn Trent volunteers putting out the cover objects at one location on the site
Reptile survey for the Stanage Forum. This visit will be to survey the North Lees, Dennis Knoll and Long Causeway sections of the estate.
Further details to follow
Common lizard on wall near Dennis Knoll
Due to the weather this survey is postponed and will not be done on the 13th August. With an Extreme Heat warning from the Met Office and an open exposed site we will not be running this visual site survey until the early autumn.
Reptile survey for the Stanage Forum. This visit will be to survey the Cattis-side Moor and Stanage Plantation sections of the estate.
Further details to follow