Hampshire is fortunate that the county covers a huge geographic area and a very diverse breadth of habitat including: the Isle of Wight, the New Forest National Park, the South Downs National Park, as well as many other unspoiled areas, including Woolmer Forest.
It is therefore unsurprising that we are host to 12 out of the 13 native amphibians and reptiles in UK, including rarities such as the Natterjack Toad, Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake, and wherever you live in the county there will be opportunities to survey and monitor an assemblage of amphibian and reptile species.
HIWARG is an newly affiliated independent ARG-UK group. The group focus is conservation of native UK species essentially around habitat management, surveying, public engagement, volunteer training & doing as much as possible to understand & protect the native species in the county.
All members are volunteers with a common interest.
If you have some spare time and would like to be involved with HIWARG, maybe you have taken a photo of a reptile or amphibian and would like it identified or maybe you have some other query, then please do get in contact email@example.com
CONSERVATION THROUGH EMPATHY BY ENGAGEMENT
Thursday 15 Oct 2020 19:30 – 21:00
An exploration and evaluation of a new approach to managing great crested newts in the planning system. Presented by Jonathan Cranfield (Recording Officer, HIWARG and Director of Herpetologic Ltd), we will be learning more about what the new District Level Licensing system aims to achieve in terms of benefits to great crested newts and wildlife, as well as developers, and how this works in practice. We will be hearing from Mike Phillips (Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group, KRAG), Donna Popplewell (Bakerwell Consultants), Tilly Tillbrook (Director at Integrated Ecological Solutions Ltd) and Luke Gorman (Associate Director, Atkins Global). Presentations will be followed by a panel discussion with an opportunity for participants to ask questions or raise other points. (Images copyright Julian Smart and Angela Julian).
Visit ARG UK's Eventbrite page to sign up to their free "Autumn Seminar Series" webinars.
On Sunday 30th August, HIWARG had its second field trip to help determine the extent of a population of Southern Clade Pool Frogs, Pelophylax lessonae. We are hoping to map the distribution of this species in North Hampshire and will be carrying out ongoing surveys in the general area. Pool Frogs in the UK are split into two "Clades", which effectively means 'natural group'. Pool Frog populations that were present in Norfolk were considered to be non-native, until they were identified as Northern Clade Pool Frogs and most likely native. Northern Clade Pool Frogs are a rare group found mainly in Scandinavia, Estonia and up until the mid 1990s, in Eastern England. Following the extinction of the UK populations, a reintroduction programme began in 2005.
However, the population in Hampshire are known to be Southern Clade Pool Frogs from mainland Europe and are considered non-native and this population were previously known to be carriers of the Chytridiomycosis disease. Our first survey earlier in the summer involved capturing animals to swab for Chytrid and we are following this up with further surveys, moving away from the main breeding ponds. Keep watching the website and our social media platforms for updates of this project.
We received a kind donation by a member of the group of a few 100 old journals, bulletins & news letters, some dating back to 1952. Along with some lovely historical pieces such as the registration form for Herp Workers Meeting 1997 (some of the wording still identical today 😊 ) and others.
Look at some of the tours available in 1989…. interesting when one sees how little things have changed and virtually the identical headlines are still featuring now some 30-50 years later e.g. Declining Amphibian Populations, Pool Frog populations in UK, Adder declines etc.
One day when we have a “club house” these will make up part of our library.
About ten days ago, a toad was discovered in Devon with leeches completely covering both eyes and a few attached to it's limb joints. A photo was posted on ARG UK's Facebook discussion group asking for advice, but nobody had seen anything similar. A few of the forum members started investigating and Steve Allain discovered a similar photo posted on an RSPB forum, which had been taken on the Isle of Wight eight years ago. A natural history note reporting on leeches in Tunisia, showed remarkable similarities with the feeding behaviour. This prompted HIWARG to follow this up with the Non Native Species Secretariat, ARC, ARG UK and Garden Wildlife Health (who investigate wildlife disease etc). Samples were collected of the Devon leech and were sent off for identification, which we are waiting for currently.
As the 2012 sighting was in HIWARG's area, we posted the story on HIWARG and DARN's FB page, along with a couple of other local FB pages in the hope the groups would do their thing and spread the news... We didn't think it would work so quickly, but in less than 24 hours we were tagged in two photos from the Isle of Wight, which showed two frogs covered in leeches. One of the frogs had been caught and kept in captivity and samples of leeches were collected to send off to GWH. Unfortunately, the frog died a couple of days ago so will be sent to GWH for post-mortem.
We don't know if this is an unrecorded behaviour of a native leech or a new non-native species of leech, but hopefully we will get a confirmed identification soon. HIWARG has also teamed up with IoW organisations to identify locations of these leeches. We will update this story as we get further news.
A sad but very intriguing case. #Scienceinaction.
If you find any similar cases, please contact us via our Facebook group if possible as we will be able to respond to this much faster, if you are not a Facebook user, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
HIWARG's Facebook group can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/455730808110700/
Upcoming events will be listed here.