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 formed in the Autumn of 2018 and is an 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
CONSERVATION THROUGH EMPATHY BY ENGAGEMENT
ARG UK are adding recordings of their successful Autumn Seminar Series to their YouTube account.
So far they have uploaded:
District Level Licencing – a new approach to managing great crested newts in the planning system
More will be added over time, so if you missed out or want to revisit any of these interesting seminars, visit ARG UK's Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCACtKecaEbK7Yd-9GdZW3jQ
HCS have their own portal directly into ARGWEB and have been using the data from our surveys to aid their planning towards improving the habitat for various species and now have evidence based information related to herps on the sites. The fact that they specifically recognise reptiles in the release is an encouraging sign. We'll continue to survey these areas and provide important feedback over the following years.
We also plan be setting up joint volunteer activities with the local HCS commons volunteers again during winter so look out for the events.
"We appreciate that these works can sometimes seem quite destructive and can initially be visually unappealing, however, after a relatively short period of time and with some targeted follow-up management the open heathland habitats begin to flourish and species typically associated with them start to utilise the additional habitat available to them. It is hoped that within 3-5 years heathland habitats within these areas will have re-stablished and in fact have begun to flourish."
To read the full blog post by the Yateley Ranger Team visit Heathland Restoration 2020
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.
Next Thursday, 29 July, we have been invited to join Natural England and Forestry England on their Heath week activity at Bramshill SSSI
We will have a stall there to talk to visitors about herps in the area and it will be a great chance to engage with walkers and other users of the site.
If anyone is free to help us set up our gazebo between 8am-8.30am that would be great. The event is advertised as 9am to 3pm, so if anyone is free and would like to help on the stall, or just stop by and chat it would be good to see you.
Meeting place is at Bramshill Common Wood Car Park, Bramshill Rd, Hook RG27 0PR (Grid ref SU 76053 61310). It is only a small car park, so if its full there is more parking about 500m east along Bramshill Road. The stall will be sited next to the car park.
Both Natural England and Forestry England will be running their own activities, with FE leading guided walks.