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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.)
The annual Heathland Forum was organised by Phil Irving of the Greensand Trust (and BRAG member). We met at the smart new Heron View Visitor Centre at Rushmere and then saw some of the recent tree clearance in the adjoining Country Park. Large areas had been cleared using a huge machine. Some of the wood was commercially useful and could be sold, but the problem then was – what to do with all the brash? Experiments were made with different ways of spreading it and heather regeneration will be monitored closely. The other problem was what to do about getting rid of the bracken? Asulox seems to be the answer. In the afternoon we looked at parts of Bragenham Wood and Kings Wood where smaller areas had been cleared, and also at established areas of heather. There were some very good looking open areas of heather within the woodland which would make good basking places. We also, unfortunately, saw considerable damage by the heather beetle. The weather was not kind to us – it was drizzling most of the day. We saw no herps of course, though we did see both the Hebridian sheep and Hereford cattle which are being used for grazing. [See Photo Gallery]
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.
Upcoming events will be listed here.