Bedfordshire Reptile & Amphibian Group (BedsRAG)
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About us

About Us

Who we are

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. 

Membership

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.

Our aims

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. 

 

News

News

Sandy Smith LNR: GCN in new ponds

Posted on Sunday 23rd June, 2013
The Great Crested Newt population at the Greensand Trust reserve, Sandy Smith LNR, has increased dramatically over the three seasons we have been surveying ponds there. The main pond, the Decoy Pond, had good numbers of GCN eggs when we looked on 22nd June as well as plenty of Smooth Newt eggs and larvae. What pleased us perhaps even more is that two new ponds, dug in September 2011, had both been colonised by GCN. In the shallower one, called the ‘Small New Pond’ for convenience, we found both GCN eggs and larvae. In the other deeper ‘Large New Pond’, we found only a very few eggs and also, unfortunately, fish. It will be very interesting to see how these two ponds develop. Compare recent pictures of both new ponds with older ones: the Large New Pond when it had just been excavated and the Small New Pond in spring 2012; see Photo Gallery.

Lizard seen at Biggleswade railway station

Posted on Sunday 23rd June, 2013
The website has been neglected for the past two months or so because the surveying season (for GCN) has been so hectic. A late start caused by the cold spring meant we lost a month. There is a pause now until August when will do some netting for larvae to see how successful breeding has been.   We have not, though, entirely neglected other species. We were convinced there must be Common Lizards on the railway embankment at Biggleswade station since they were known to be at Arlesey a few miles south. Over the years we have looked for them whenever we have been waiting for a train and the weather was suitable (not often). It was not until last week, though, that we actually saw one. It was on the concrete conduit (for cables etc.) at the bottom of the embankment on the eastern side. This shows it is worth doing some reptile surveying wherever you are!

Toad mating balls: Richard’s Pond

Posted on Tuesday 16th April, 2013

The recent warm weather has encouraged the toads to start spawning. On the evening of Saturday 13th April we counted 43 toads in the pond by torchlight (only two pairs) but did not see any toad spawn. During the day, on 15th April, we counted over 70 toads – it was difficult to be sure of the exact number as there were two mating balls. One of these was especially large, with lots of males clustered around a very big female. We were afraid she would drown so were took off the males [see Picture Gallery]. The toads had just started spawning: there were a few spawn strings. There was also some more frog spawn, laid in the same place as the earlier frog spawn. Today (Tuesday) there was some more frog spawn, but in a different area of the pond, near the toad spawn. We hope to do a night time head count of toads soon.


Late frog and toad spawn - update

Posted on Thursday 11th April, 2013

On Tuesday 9th April we saw six more clumps of frog spawn in Richard’s Pond in Biggleswade. By Wednesday there was a total of about 23 clumps and by Thursday (today) another 16 or so had been laid, making about 39 altogether. The weather seems to be slowly improving and it will be very interesting to see whether, and when, the toads join the frogs in spawning – they are only just starting to move to the ponds and we have seen on toad spawn strings yet. We are promised rain (and hail) this evening, with a minimum temperature of 7C so hopefully that will be enough to encourage the toads to move as well.


Late frog and toad spawn

Posted on Monday 8th April, 2013

There was a small amount of spawning in Bedfordshire around 9th and 10th March, see the BNHS News Group: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/bnhs_news_group/message/8130. The temperature had been quite warm around that date but there has been very little activity since then. We were therefore pleased to see one(!) clump of toad spawn in Richard’s Pond on Sunday 7th April. There was no other spawn in the pond. A second clump was laid overnight, Sunday / Monday. If the weather improves, as the forecast suggests, it will be very interesting to see whether the frogs and toads will still spawn. In this area things are about a month behind. [See Photo Gallery]


Events

Events

Show Past Events

BedsRAG AGM 2022

Sun 23rd January, 2022

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.


Identification

Identification

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

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

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.

 

Contact us

Contact Us

Stephen Nisbet (Chair)

Steve Allain ( Volunteers officer, Main Contact) 

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Second contact: Lloyd Rose, lloyd-rose@hotmail.co.uk

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