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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
Dave Willis (Chair)
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