We are a small, informal grassroots conservation group dedicated to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Bedfordshire. We are affiliated to the Bedfordshire Natural History Society, we are also members of the Beds Heathland Forum. In the past, we have helped draft Species Action Plans (SAPS) for both Bedfordshire Adders and Great Crested Newt. We are also affiliated with the Amphibian and Reptile Groups UK (ARG UK), the organisation that helps with coordinating regional ARGs.
We welcome both people who prefer to work as individuals, and people who prefer to work in cooperation with others through the Group. We occasionally organise outings and training sessions, for our members. These include such activities as workshops, particularly for people who wish to qualify for a GCN license. It doesn't matter if you've never surveyed for a newt or a lizard before, we'll be able to help train you and pair you up with someone to help generate data in your local area. At present membership is free, all you need to do to become a member is contact us.
At present, much of our activity has been concentrated on specific sites in the south of the county. We are only too aware of how little we know about North Bedfordshire. Bedfordshire is richer in herps than one might expect, our aim to try to map as much as this diversity as possible, through the use of targetted surveys and casual observations. If you spot any amphibians or reptiles in Bedfordshire, please report them using the appropriate tab above. Much of Bedfordshire is very poorly surveyed for amphibians and reptiles, we simply do not know what is there. Parts of the county are under severe development pressure and we hope to get a good picture of what is there before it is too late. If are interested in joining the group, and surveying you local patch for either amphibians or reptiles, please get in touch.
As well as the common species, we are also aware of two introduced species: midwife toads and marsh frogs, with one re-introduction: natterjack toads.
The replacement toad fencing at Saxon Gate has now been installed in spite of the rain, wind and generally discouraging weather. Richard Lawrence of Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity and the Ivel Valley Volunteers spent Tuesday 11th February fixing the ACO sections together and backfilling with soil. This new fencing extends both sides of the tunnel entrance ... You may think that is obvious, but when the tunnel was put in by the developers they considered their responsibility was to install fencing on the north-west side of the entrance, but not the south-west. It is really great to have proper fencing at last.
The results look splendid (see Photo Gallery) and we look forward to the new season. It will be very instructive to see how the fencing affects the number of toads etc. we find on the road.
Thanks again to Froglife, BRCC, Central Bedfordshire Council and ACO for funding the replacement of the fencing, and especially to Richard Lawrence.
I've heard from Sivi Sivanesan at Froglife that, though there definitely was a toad patrol at Brogborough, it is currently unmanned. Could anyone my side of Bedfordshire (Milton Keynes, Woburn, Lidlington areas) let me know any reports of toad movements. Once I know toads are on the move I'll go over there to see if toads are still present and try to set up a patrol if it's needed. If you want to see where the crossing is go to Froglife’s very useful interactive map: http://www.froglife.org/what-we-do/toads-on-roads/TORmap/ and type in ‘Brogborough’.
If you have any information or are interested in helping at Brogborough please contact me: email@example.com
The toad fencing at Saxon Gate has been in a bad state of repair for many years. Earlier this year BRAG member Richard Lawrence of Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity organised a work party of the Ivel Valley Volunteers who did a great job repairing the fencing on the east side of Saxon Drive. We were very pleased when Silviu Petrovan of Froglife became involved in the project and offered to help fund the replacement of the fencing on the west side of the road.
On Tuesday 28th January Richard organised another work party. The weather was kind to us (no rain!) and the old sections of broken ACO fencing were removed and the ground dug out and levelled ready for the new sections to be installed. Hopefully this will be completed in the next week or two.
Thanks to Froglife, BRCC, Central Bedfordshire Council and ACO for funding the replacement of the fencing.
See Photo Gallery
Five BRAG members attended this conference, held near Ledbury and organised by HART, on Sunday 17th November 2013. The theme was captive breeding and re-introduction. After a survey of the general principles to be considered when making a re-introduction we heard about two successful projects - Sand Lizards (of course!) and the Pool Frog - but also about an Adder captive breeding project which had run into bureaucratic obstructions. Later there was a very interesting account of a telemetry project. A number of Adders in the Malvern Hills were fitted with devices which allowed them to be tracked. Not only were they tracked down small mammal burrows but they were also found in surprisingly shady areas under trees. One unfortunate Adder was tracked making a direct flight – to a Buzzards’ nest! It was a long drive for us (in a car which we later discovered had worn wheel bearings) but well worth while.
More jargon! At the Heathland Forum we learned that the whole Greensand Ridge had been designated a Nature Improvement Area (NIA). Twelve initial NIAs have already been designated, starting from 1st April 2012.
According to Natural England: ‘Local Nature Partnerships and local planning authorities can now identify and agree where locally determined NIAs can take shape. These are distinct from the 12 initial NIAs who were awarded NIA status and a share of the £7.5 million funding. ... Resources and support [for NIAs such as the Greensand Ridge] to be identified and addressed locally.’
Even so this new designation should mean the area will be awarded some money from the Enterprise Partnerships. The Greensand Ridge has been chosen for its acid grassland and heathland. Hopefully this will, in the long term, mean habitat for adders and lizards especially will improve.
We tend to concentrate on surveying with a bit of conservation work thrown in. Herpy desk work and jargon is not for us! It is good though that some people take a more general view – and some, though not enough, even a political view.
(See http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/biodiversity/funding/nia/default.aspx for more information about NIAs.)
It will soon be the time when amphibians will be returning to their breeding ponds, followed by the emergence of reptiles shortly after. With this in mind, we'd like to invite you to attend the BedsRAG AGM on the 23rd January at 7 pm. The meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams, and a link will be circulated ahead of the meeting, to those that have confirmed their attendance. If you'd like to attend, please email Steven Allain so that he can send you the link.
The main reason for calling the AGM, is to help elect new members into the various open committee roles we currently have within BedsRAG. These include roles such as Amphibian Officer, Reptile Officer, Membership Officer and Data Officer. If you'd like to know more about the roles that are available, and would like to put yourself forward for election, please get in touch and we'll happily provide this information. We're looking forward to electing a new committee to help BedsRAG flourish in 2022, including the election of a new Chairman, as our current one is stepping down to a change in personal circumstances.
Aside from the formalities, Steven Allain shall be giving a brief talk on a national project he's been coordinating on the topic for midwife toads, titled 'On the trail of midwife toads'. Some of these surveys have been conducted in Bedfordshire, and we're lucky to have been awarded a small grant through the Bedfordshire Natural History Society, to enable this. Our research us uncovered a number of new populations across the country, that were previously unrecorded. Steven will go into some detail as to why this may be, as well as presenting some of his results from the project.
At the AGM, we also hope to give a quick overview of the areas we wish to focus our surveys on in the coming season. This will include training for those that require it, which we hope will allow them to also complete surveys in their local area, which have been suitably identified. To facilitate this, please log into the ARGWEB (http://surrey-arg.org.uk/SARGWEB.php?app=LogIn&Org=BedsRAG) and please complete both 'My Volunteer Preferences' and 'My Volunteer Agreement' under the 'My BedsRAG Account' icon. This will ensure that you're both kept in the loop with any developments relating to your preferences, and covered by our insurance for any of the surveys/activities. If you do not sign the volunteer agreement, you will not be able to take part in any of the activities.
We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks time, but for now please enjoy the rest of the festive season.
Bedfordshire is home to a number of amphibian and reptile species, these may be hard to differentiate to the untrained eye. We've therefore provided the following information to help ensure that species identifications are correct, especially when it comes to recording. The links provided before should help most people when it comes to establishing the identity of an amphibian or reptile. If you're still stuck, then please feel free to contact us.
Amphibians tend to be found in close proximity to water, especially in the spring, although they may be found in terrestrial environments in the summer and autumn. This can sometimes lead to confusion between newts and lizards.
The following amphibians can be found in Bedfordshire:
As far as we're aware, there are no populations of palmate newts, which tend to prefer more upland and acidic sites.
If you're unable to tell which amphibian species you've found, or you're dealing with a young individual, then we recommend this helpful guide from ARG UK.
Reptiles tend to be found in drier habitats than amphibians, they posses scales, and are also more agile than amphibians. Like amphibians, they hibernate throughout the winter months, and emerge again in the spring.
The following reptiles can be found in Bedfordshire:
If you're unable to tell which reptile species you've found, then we recommend this helpful guide from ARG UK.