Yorkshire Amphibian & Reptile Group
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About Us


If you have an interest in amphibians and reptiles, this site will provides you with information about our local voluntary group which works with and for this enigmatic group of species in the region. In addition this site aims to tell you about the work we do and how to join in if you wish to pursue your interest.

Volunteering with Yorkshire ARG

If you are interested in reptile and amphibian conservation in Yorkshire why not become an active Yorkshire ARG member? Throughout the year we require help with activities of varying scale ranging from site monitoring for amphibians and reptiles, amphibian reintroductions to amphibian swabbing to contribute to national programmes aimed at determining the extent of amphibian disease in the UK. There is no minimum commitment required, however, the more YOU put in the more the amphibians and reptiles of Yorkshire will benefit.

Without volunteers most conservation organisations would not exist! Yorkshire ARG (YARG) is no exception, therefore if you too want to unleash the hidden herpetologist within why not join the ARG and help conserve a group of declining British species. Our Constitution is attached.


Reasons to Join Yorkshire ARG:

  • Gain a chance to see elusive often hard to find species in their natural environment.
  • Help make difference to neglected species that in some cases are in rapid decline.
  • Gain experience in active conservation, essential for today's ecological employment market.
  • Meet new, like minded people.
  • Get exercise and fresh air with a purpose rather than at the gym.
  • Gain the satisfaction of helping YOUR local environment!

We encourage people to take part in reptile and amphibian survey projects like 'NARRS' and 'Make the Adder Count' coordinated by ARC, as well as rare reptile monitoring on sites that are short of voluntary surveyors. We help train people where necessary. There are also numerous opportunities for taking part in conservation tasks across the county (usually winter habitat management), on nature reserves managed by ARC, local authorities, Natural England, the Forestry Commission, RSPB, National Trust and other landowners. YARG aims to provide a link between these bodies and all the keen volunteers that are out there. If you want to offer your services, or you need volunteers for your herp-related projects, then get in touch!

How to join

It's simple! Download the membership forms, fill them in and follow the instructions.

Membership of Yorkshire ARG is just £5 per year which goes directly towards the work of the group and the conservation of amphibians and reptiles.



Gallows Hill Nature Reserve - New Pond Creation!

Posted on Monday 12th February, 2018



Just an update on the Gallows Hill Nature reserve area new ponds creation works which has been assisted by a donation from YARG and ARG UK 100% fund.

Two ponds have now been now dug and lined with bentomat, in an area adjacent to the existing pond along with a pond dipping platform to allow people to enjoy pond dipping and other wildlife activities. Material which was unearthed during the pond creation has been used to make a large hibernaculum too which was covered with soil. .

The ponds are already filling with water - see photos below:

The project has been supported principally by Otley Town Council and fund raising efforts by Friends of Gallows Hill (thanks everyone who came to the ‘Pondlife’ gig!) with further donations from Wharfedale Naturalists Society, Yorkshire Amphibian and Reptile Group, West Yorkshire Bat Group, Otley Beer Festival, Waitrose Green Token scheme and local businesses Haycock and Jay Associates and Ground-direct Ltd.

There will certainly be opportunities to participate in the project during the year as the pond become established to help out the Friends of Gallows Hill group. Feel free to visit and use the reserve over the next few weeks and months and see how the project is progressing!

Well done to Gordon and the team!!  ARG money (and YARG funds) being put to good use!

breaking ground minPond1 min


Pond2 minthe team benomat liners min



2018 AGM - February 22nd - See Events Page

Posted on Thursday 8th February, 2018


See Yorkshire ARG Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/1572107566208899/


Happy New Year! - HWM booking closes on 7th January 2018.

Posted on Tuesday 2nd January, 2018


Another year has past us by and we welcome in 2018...!  Happy New Year to Yorkshire ARG members and non members.  We hope to have our annual meeting as usual in mid/late February following the HWM - details of which are below. I'll circulate details to members and add to the event page when we have a fixed date.


Dates for your diary – upcoming events: A quick reminder that bookings for the 2018 HWM which will be in Northampton on 3-4 February this year, close at midnight on 7th January.  If you wish to go do make sure you have registered by then.  One of the central points of our annual calendar, this is looking to be another great meeting, and we look forward to meeting many of you there.  For more on this follow this link: https://www.arc-trust.org/Event/hwm2018.

ARG UK is also sponsoring an important Scottish herpetofauna meeting, ‘The Amphibians and Reptiles of Scotland: Current Research, Future Challenges’, which will be held in Glasgow on 9th June 2018. Organised by Clyde ARG and the Glasgow Natural History Society, this conference will cover all aspects of amphibian and reptile conservation, and a number of our ARG folk are speaking. My understanding is that bookings are not yet open, but we have put a provisional programme on our web-page and will update it as soon as we have any news. https://www.arguk.org/get-involved/events/16-the-amphibians-and-reptiles-of-scotland-current-research-future-challenges


2017 Season upon us!

Posted on Saturday 18th March, 2017

Latest GW Y ARG Logo

Hi All

Following our Yorkshire ARG annual meeting held in early March we welcome YARG members old and new to join us in events and activities this 2017 season.  We welcome any opportunities to undertake survey and training events, conservation activities or anything else which seeks to meet our objectives as a ARG.

Frogspawn is now becoming abundant at pond sites and the herps of Yorkshire are now awaking to the new season and are heading to ponds for breeding, basking and become well and truly active.

The Yorkshire ARG is essentially what the members make it - whilst we seek to offer events each year its up to you to provide ideas for events, provide insights of sites areas which may need further survey or assistance with enhancement or other events to raise awareness so please do let us know (see contact details).  There loads of amazing habitats in Yorkshire to explore!

Look forward to see you over the course of the season and happy herping!

The Yorkshire ARG committee!



Yorkshire ARG has over 50 current members!

Posted on Wednesday 17th February, 2016

The Yorkshire ARG currently has around 50 formalised members - we are now gearing up to plan another years of activities, surveys and events in 2016.  We are a purely voluntary group of individuals so events or activities are entirely led by and organized by our members.  The group seeks to undertake and contribute to the national events and surveys being conducted by ARGUK, ARC and by other relevant organisations such as The Freshwater Habitats Trust.


Our group membership is geographical very wide ranging throughout Yorkshire with members scattered from Sheffield in the South up to Leeds, York and as far as Scarborough and Hull.  Therefore we seek to ‘hook up’ our members who may live locally to one another and could collaborate to form a more localised survey/event team.  Group members collectively have a wealth of herpetofauna expertise and survey experience; many work within private and public wildlife organizations, conservation agencies, are ecological consultants or are interested and enthusiastic herpetologists.


All events and surveys details are circulated to group members.  We already have a number of new survey opportunities and event in our draft events programme as well as plans to continue some of those undertaken in 2015…details to follow soon…!

Most surveys and events are undertaken within the main herpetofauna survey season from mid March to end September each year. 


So if you know of a great amphibian or reptile sites in Yorkshire, or ones which have potential to be great and would like to arrange a survey or an event at please do get in touch, we may be able to assist you! 



Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Toad Count - Letchmire Pastures - CANCELLED

Thu 24th March, 2016

As part of the PondNet project, Kate Wright will be carrying out an evening survey to count toads. If you would like to help, please email for further details.

Amphibian Survey - Otley

Thu 7th April, 2016

Gordon Haycock will be undertaking amhpibian surveys at a nature reserve site near Otley.  The site is known to support a large population of common toad.  For meeting times and location please contact Gordon.

PondNet Training Event - East Yorkshire

Sat 9th April, 2016

The Freshwater Habitats Trust are running a one day amphibian survey training day for any new volunteers wanted to get involved in the PondNet project. For more details, please contact Anne Heathcote: aheathcote@freshwaterhabitats.org.uk

Family Fun Event - Otley

Fri 22nd April, 2016

Surveys with a family orientated theme - herp enthusiasts young and (a bit) older welcome ... Please email Gordon for more details of meeting time and location.

Amphibian Surveying - Stocksmoor Common YWT Reserve

Sat 23rd April, 2016 - Sun 24th April, 2016

Amphibian Survey and ID Continuation of monitoring surveys at this Yorkshire Wildlife Trust  site - this will be the fourth year of surveys being conducted by Yorkshire ARG.  Great site for all species of newt; GCN , Palmate and smooth plus frogs and toads.  Intend to undertake egg searching and daytime assessment plus installation of bottle traps, plus evening torchlight surveys.  On sunday morning (24th) bottle traps will be removed and captures identified.   Meet at ~6.00pm (on the 23rd) at the Car Park off Stocksmoor Road (B6117), Midgley, South west of Wakefield (Ordnance Survey Grid Reference SE 275 152) – See http://www.ywt.org.uk/reserves/stocksmoor-common-nature-reserve 

If you would like to come along please contact Andy or Clare Mcilwraith at newyorksarg@gmail.com

Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens Wildlife Day

Sun 26th June, 2016

Wildlife Day - See http://www.stillingfleetlodgenurseries.co.uk/workshops/wildlife-day/.  Yorkshire ARG will be involved by hosting an information stand and conducting pond dipping and ID activities at the garden centre.   Please contact newyorksarg@gmail.com  if you are able to help promote our group and spend an hour on the ARG stand during the day at this event.  Free for volunteers to assist.. there's a lovely cafe too!

2017 Annual Members Meeting

Thu 2nd March, 2017

YARG members old and new are invited to come along to the 2017 annual meeting.....
Thursday 2nd March 2017 from 6.30pm
Fox & Grapes, York Road (A64), Leeds, LS15 4NJ (a few minutes west from the A1M/ A64 jct)  See  http://www.thefoxandgrapesleeds.co.uk/
The meeting provides a chance to catch up with your fellow Yorkshire herptile enthusiasts as we discuss the things that have been undertaken over the past 12 months and put together our plans for the upcoming year. 
  • Do you have an idea for an event or survey you'd like to run?
  • Is there a project that you think the group could support?
  • Would you be interested in helping to run the group "behind the scenes"?
  • Are you just interested in knowing what the group gets up to and want to get involved?
If you have answered yes to any of the above then you should definitely come along!   We are particularly keen to meet with and hear from members with any ideas for sites which may require surveys of where there are opportunities for the group funds to assist in enhancement measures for amphibians or reptiles, and/or any who may wish to assist with the group events.
If you are unable to attend the meeting but have an item/ideas to put forward for discussion/consideration  then please email the details for inclusion on the agenda.  We always welcome ideas for use of the group funds for events, talks or practical conservation measures. Look forward to seeing you there!

Amphibian Safari - Gallows Hill Otley

Fri 24th March, 2017


FGH logo

Amphibian Safari - joint event with Friends of Gallows Hill.  Evening walk to see amphibians as they head to the ponds for breeding. Toad Count will also be undertaken.

Meet at the car park located down gallows Hill Lane off Poll Road (see attached for location).  The reserve is located at NGR SE210459.

No formal booking required, but if you would like further information please contact Gordon Haycock at Gordon.haycock@gallowshill.org.uk


FHT - PondNet Survey Training Events (various dates)

Sat 25th March, 2017 - Tue 25th July, 2017

Freshwater Habitats Trust is continuing the completion of PondNet surveys.  PondNet is an exciting new national volunteer survey to collect information about trends in pond quality and pond species, including rare plants and animals.

PondNet is offering FREE species identification and survey technique training for its volunteers and the general public with training sessions taking place across England and Wales.

These training sessions are linked to the species and habitat surveys often undertaken as a PondNet volunteer. However, the training is open to anyone who has a passion or an interest in freshwater identification and surveying.

There are a limited number of training spaces available on each session, with priority given to PondNet volunteers, so we would recommend booking your place quickly.

In 2017 the main focus for the training events will be on restricted species surveys with very little amphibian training available.

In order to put your name down for a training event, please check the map to see which region you are in. Once you have determined your region, click on the training links below for the different training sessions in your area and details on how to sign up.

See FHT website for further details http://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/projects/pondnet/pondnet-training-events/


Amphibian Safari - Howell Wood

Wed 5th April, 2017

Join Yorkshire Amphibian and Reptile Group in partnership with the DVLP for a night walk exploring the hidden world of amphibians in Howell Wood. This is the perfect time of the year to see amphibians close up as they head towards there evening ponds in preparation for breeding.

The event is FREE but booking is essential, please book via the website below. All are welcome but children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. No previous experience necessary.

Please wear sensible outdoor clothing and footwear and bring a torch if possible.

Please meet in the car park to Howell Wood ready for 7:30pm.


See http://discoverdearne.org.uk/events/amphibian-safari/


Contact us

Contact Us

Whatever your enquiry, we'd love to hear from you! Just email us and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

General enquiries - newyorksarg@gmail.com





Data Requests - Unfortunately Yorkshire ARG do not hold records or have the provision to undertake record searches. Please contact the relevent local record centre; West Yorkshire Ecology http://www.ecology.wyjs.org.uk/, North and East Yorkshire  Ecological Data Centre http://www.neyedc.org.uk/.  South Yorkshire see http://www.ywt.org.uk/what-we-do/biodiversity/local-record-centres

The Yorkshire ARG Committee:

Chair: Andy McIlwraith
Secretary & Treasurer: Clare McIlwraith

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events will be listed here.

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