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.
Current members can log into the BedsRAG ARGWEB using the button below.
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.
Not quite as dramatic as it sounds! We spent one evening surveying at Maulden Woods for Great Crested Newts as part of the SITA / Natura International project based in the Marston vale area. [See Photo Gallery] This small pond, previously built to hold water for putting out fires, was partly filled in years ago to make it safer. In 2004 and 2008 we found Great Crested Newt eggs there and it has often been used for breeding by Common Frogs, Common toads and Smooth Newts. Earlier this month unfortunately we did not find any Great Crested Newt eggs though we saw both Smooth Newt adults and eggs.
It is encouraging to read a sensible article on adders in a national newspaper - albeit on their website's environmental blog and commenting on their decline. Have a look at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2014/mar/21/save-adder-extinction-middle-england
The Wildlife Trust ponds at Cople have been overshadowed by trees ever since we first visited them. This small reserve, consisting of eleven long thin ponds, was created from gravel diggings. From a herpetological point of view the ponds are mainly of interest for their Great Crested Newt population, though curiously, GCN are not mentioned on the Trust’s website (http://www.wildlifebcn.org/reserves/cople-pits).
The habitat of the reserve changed dramatically a few weeks ago when a number of trees blew down in the gales. As these were lying across two of the water bodies they had to be removed. Daniel Piec organised the work as part of the SITA / Natura International project for improving habitat for GCN in the Marston Vale. As a result some of the ponds are much more open and sunny and we look forward to monitoring GCN over the next few years. Hopefully their numbers will increase and the pits will once again be notable for their GCN population.
The final touches to the installation and repairs of fencing at Saxon Drive, Saxon Gate, Biggleswade were completed on 4th March 2014. A few new sections of ACO wildlife fencing were inserted to replace the broken sections on the east side of the road. A pipe now connects the northern and southern sections of the fence on the west side. This was necessary because the fence was broken almost immediately after it was installed, nearly 15 years ago. People walking / cycling from the road to the swimming pool had to pass across it with the inevitable result. Thanks to the Ivel Valley Volunteers toads, frogs, newts and small mammals can now pass safely along the fence to the tunnel and humans can make their way safely to the leisure centre. Much vegetation has also been cleared from the vicinity of the fence, thus preventing agile amphibians climbing over the fence instead of finding the tunnel. (See photo Gallery)
So far (two nights only!) we have not found any amphibians on the road when they should have been in the tunnel.
Thanks again to Froglife, BRCC, Central Bedfordshire Council and ACO for funding the replacement of the fencing, and especially to Richard Lawrence who organised everything.
Four new ponds are being dug at Marston Thrift as part of the SITA / Natura International Marston Vale Great Crested Newt Project. The very wet January and February weather delayed the digging but Daniel Piec of Natura International seized the opportunity this week to start work. So far two ponds have been completed and a third is being dug. See Photo Gallery for the digger at work.
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.
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