Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group
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About us

About Us

Welcome to CPARG - Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's local Amphibian and Reptile Group. ARGs are local, grassroots amphibian and reptile conservation groups spread out throughout the UK, usually organised by county. As a volunteer run group we get up to a whole range of activities – newt surveys, frogspawn counts, advice service, liaison with planning authorities and consultancies, data collection/collation, training, chytrid swabbing, talks and presentations. The opportunities are endless! Events are held on nature reserves and throughout the wider landscape, and while our focus is on Cambridgeshire there are good links between neighbouring ARGs with access to shared away-days, conferences and training available.

We are run by and for volunteers, and we'd like you to join. We're looking for members – people who might be interested in surveying, receiving training, attending talks, sharing their knowledge and experience, or getting involved in any way with amphibian and reptile conservation locally. We're also looking for new committee members to help with the running of the group, most importantly in organising and/or running events (surveys, training, talks, habitat management etc).

Map of some sites we work on:

Click Here

Membership Documents

Before you download and fill out your membership form, please read the ARG UK Generic Risk Assessment and ARG UK Lone Working Procedures. The membership fee is £5 and payment instructions can be found on the membership document below.

ARG UK Generic Risk Assessment - Click Here

ARG UK Lone Working Procedures - Click Here

CPARG Membership Form - Click Here

To find our about how CPARG is operated, please feel free to read the CPARG Constitution.

CPARG Constitution - Click Here

Social Networking


Please join our Facebook for discussions with other members.


Please follow us on Twitter for all of our latest updates.


Please follow our blog for updates on our events and activities!



Why not visit our blog?

Posted on Monday 23rd April, 2018

Although news hasn't been posted on our website for a couple of years now, we have been going strong on WordPress! We moved away from this platform and over to there shortly after out 2016 AGM when our new Communication's Officer then setup a WordPress blog due to the improved functionality over the blog system that is built into our site. Maybe we'll see the return to use using the home system as well but for now you can find out what we've been up to and what's going on here

Volunteers needed for the Big Spawn count!

Posted on Monday 14th March, 2016

It’s that time of year again – soon many garden ponds across the country will be bubbling with hundreds of croaking toads and frogs, and your help is needed to record all that spawn!

Amphibians are commonly found breeding in garden ponds, and data gathered by volunteers is vital in better understanding just how important gardens are for these species. Spawn counts can be used to estimate population sizes and species distributions, an important way of monitoring the status of our amphibians and identifying ways to better conserve them!

It’s really simple, all you have to do is fill in some basic information online; the size and depth of your pond, whether the pond has fish in it, and how much spawn (frog or toad) you can see!


Check out the Fresh Water Habitats website here for more details!

Cambridge toads are on the move!

Posted on Tuesday 8th March, 2016

As the evenings are very slowly getting warmer, toads have been awakening from their sleepy slumber and are now on the move! Their migration from hibernacula to natal spawning ponds can however be lengthy and pretty treacherous. Unfortunately many breeding ponds are now surrounded by an urban environment, making road crossing a necessary, but perilous task.

Toads on Roads and Toad Size are two projects aiming to alleviate and better understand the risk of roads on toad populations. Volunteers collect toads from road sides and help them safely reach their pond for breeding. The level of traffic flow and number of deceased individuals found is also recorded. The Toad Size project involves the measuring of male toads at these road sites to determine whether road mortality is influencing the age structure of populations. Preliminary results show the importance of frequent toad patrols for reducing mortality and enabling a more varied age structure, and the impact of crossing distance on toad size.  Further research is however needed from more sites across the country.

So we at CPARG have just begun Toad Patrol and Toad Size activities for the year, with three outings so far. This is the second year of Toad on Road activities at this specific site, and the first year we have been collecting data for Toad Size.  Our first visit resulted in 152 males safely delivered to the pond. Visit two was on a fairly cold night and resulted in a much more modest number of 19, with 1 of these being scooped out from the depths of a drain, whilst visit number 3 saved 119 toads.

Have you been out helping toads cross roads? Or have you seen sites that could do with some assistance? Let us know! For more information about these projects, check out the website links below, or for more specific Cambridge related queries, contact our Toads on Roads Officer Mark Goodman at

Find more information about the Toads on Roads Project here and the Toad Size Project here.

CPARG volunteers help manage ponds for great crested newts (and other amphibians!)

Posted on Tuesday 8th March, 2016

Careful pond and land management is needed to ensure the persistence of amphibian populations in the UK, especially for the Great crested newt (GCN), a species that has seen rapid declines in the past 50 years.  Threats facing amphibians in the UK are largely linked to agricultural intensification, pollution, disease and the introduction of non-native species such as ornamental fish.  Great crested newts have been largely effected by these changes due to their specialist habitat requirements.

The cement-lined ponds at Cambridge city crematorium have been monitored for amphibians since 2013. It was then that CPARG investigated a possible GCN sighting and were pleased to confirm a breeding population of the species, as well as a healthy population of smooth newts.

As appropriate management of remaining GCN populations is important, in early January CPARG volunteers gathered at this GCN site to give the ponds some TLC. An ideal pond for GCN has both extensive submerged and floating aquatic vegetation as well as more open areas for males to woo the ladies with their mating displays. To improve these ponds we therefore dragged out dead vegetation that had been clogging them up, reducing the quality of the habitat and making population monitoring difficult.

We carefully checked and recorded all the material being removed from the pond for life; we found an array of invertebrates including water boatmen and dragonfly larvae, as well as two GCN, three smooth newts and one common frog.

Now the dead vegetation has been removed and the live vegetation trimmed a little, the plants needed for newt egg laying will be able to better flourish and hopefully we’ll see the benefits of our labour later this year during the survey season!


Do you know of any great crested newt populations? Let us know! For more information about how to effectively manage your garden pond for amphibians, check out the Froglife website here.

Frogwatch – Big Garden Spawn Count Volunteers Needed!

Posted on Saturday 28th December, 2013

Do you have a garden pond?  Do you ever see frogs in your garden?


Lots of people would answer yes to at least one of these questions but unfortunately conservation organisations know very little about where frogs are found or how well they’re doing.  But as urban dwellers as well as rural, frogs offer a great opportunity for the public to get face-to-face with wildlife and to contribute to its wellbeing.  For two years the Freshwater Habitats Trust (formerly Pond Conservation) has been running a simple project to make this link. 

Members of the public who are lucky enough to spot frog spawn in their ponds are asked to fill in a simple online record form which then gets logged with others across the country to help answer these questions!  This survey will also pick up on any toadspawn present…but it doesn’t look out for newts so we should still promote either Record Pool or CPERC to capture these records: or

The data from this survey will then be shared with county-based organisations to help fill in some of the gaps on their local frog maps.

This year Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group (CPARG) will be promoting this project within our Cambridgeshire patch, contributing both to answering the big questions nationally (e.g. what sort of ponds do frogs like) and providing our partners at CPERC with up-to-date records of breeding frogs.

We’re looking for a team of confident volunteers to send out press releases to local media (online, papers, radio and TV) and to be available for interview to promote this project, CPARG’s other survey opportunities, and amphibian and reptile conservation generally.

If you might be interested in pitching this conservation message to local media please email us on and CC in or call Paul for an informal chat on 07508020437.

This project would suit confident, friendly-sounding people either with or who would like to get some media experience.

Frogs could start breeding as early as February – or even sooner if we have a mild winter/early spring – so we’d like to have people signed up and ready to be interviewed by the end of January if possible.  Good luck spreading the frog-count word!



Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Logan's Meadow LNR Work Party

Sun 5th February, 2017


This winter CPARG will be conducting some work parties at a number of local nature reserves (LNR) in collaboration with Cambridge City Council. The aim of these work parties is to improve the current habitats for reptiles and amphibians. We''ll return in the spring to begin surveys to see how successful we've been.

The last of these will be held at Logans Meadow LNR on 5th February. All the equipment needed will be supplied but please wrap up warm and bring your own packed lunch. Work will be begin at 10am and the session will wrap up at about 3pm. Please feel free to join us at any time during the session.

Talk: A Herpetologist's Adventure in Borneo

Tue 7th February, 2017

Steve Allain will be giving an illustrated talk about his visit to Malaysian Borneo last year and the activities he completed whilst he there. He will also disuss conservation issues and conflicts concerning the reptiles and amphibians of the region.

When: 7.30pm

Where: All Saints Church Hall, Church Lane, Milton. 

The talk is free for existing paid-up CPARG members, although the talk is a great chance for those who haven''t joined to do so. Guests have two options, they may either pay a £2 entrance fee or they can pay the £5 membership fee and be free to attened future CPARG events throughout 2017.

Please note that parking is lmited at the church so please park carefully in Fen Road or Coles Road.

Upton Pond Work Party

Sat 25th February, 2017 - Sun 26th February, 2017

We have yet another work party planned for this winter, this time concerning the Upton village pond. Upton is a small village near Huntingdon and the work is being carried out for the local Parish Council. Refreshments will be provided.

The work carried out by volunteers will improve the appearance of the pond for residents, increase biodiversity and maintain the breeding habitat for great crested newts. Work will start around 10 am each day (weather dependent) and the plan is to work throughout the day. The reeds are now very dense and we will remove what we can towards the front of the pond using a digger and by hand. A skip will be positioned near the pond so we will need wheelbarrows to take the reeds and mud to the skip, rakes will also be helpful.

Please wear old clothes/waterproofs and wellies as the work will be quite messy.  Rubber/vinyl gloves should be worn; the Parish Council has a stock of these that you can borrow.  The Parish Council also has several sets of waders that volunteers may borrow.

Please let Leslie know by text/phone/e-mail (07743946386) and Steve Parnwell by email if and when you can attend.


Thu 9th March, 2017

When: Thursday 9th March at 7pm.

Where: Wildlife Trust BCN Headquarters, The Manor House, Cambourne

The 2017 CPARG AGM will take place at the Wildlife Trust BCN Headquarters, after the usual procedure of electing the committee and running through the various reports, Katharine Banham and Gwen Hitchcock will be presenting a talk titled 'Settling Slow Worms: a translocation project five years in’.

We are looking for new members to join the committee and if you're interested, then please get in touch.

Refreshments will be provided, please remember that in order to vote in the committee elections that you need to be a paid up member of CPARG. If you're not already, you can do this on the night.

Woodwalton Fen Survey 1

Tue 18th April, 2017 - Wed 19th April, 2017

Terry and Helen have been asked to to survey the 20 experimental ponds on Woodwalton Fen again this year. Unfortunately for them it is quite a big job for two people and so they would like some help from willing volunteers. This year there will be 2 surveys approximately 3 weeks apart depending on the weather and availability. The first of these will be the best day of either the 18th or 19th April. If you'd like to help, then please get in touch with Terry. When getting in touch please also state whether or not you currently hold a great crested newt licence and if you have an appropriate survey torch. Appropriate survey torches are a 500,000 or 1,000,000 candle power torch and not an LED torch (you get too much reflection with LED torches).

You don't need to have any of these or previous experience of newt surveys to be a useful member of the team on the night. Terry will then get in touch nearer the time to confirm dates and meeting arrangements.It is not for the faint hearted as the ponds are over a mile from the entrance over fairly rough ground. However there are usually other wildlife rewards besides newts.

Woodwalton Fen Survey 2

Mon 8th May, 2017 - Wed 10th May, 2017

Terry and Helen have been asked to to survey the 20 experimental ponds on Woodwalton Fen again this year. Unfortunately for them it is quite a big job for two people and so they would like some help from willing volunteers. This year there will be 2 surveys approximately 3 weeks apart depending on the weather and availability. The second and last of these will be the best day of either the 8th, 9th or 10th May. If you'd like to help, then please get in touch with Terry. When getting in touch please also state whether or not you currently hold a great crested newt licence and if you have an appropriate survey torch. Appropriate survey torches are a 500,000 or 1,000,000 candle power torch and not an LED torch (you get too much reflection with LED torches).

You don't need to have any of these or previous experience of newt surveys to be a useful member of the team on the night. Terry will then get in touch nearer the time to confirm dates and meeting arrangements.It is not for the faint hearted as the ponds are over a mile from the entrance over fairly rough ground. However there are usually other wildlife rewards besides newts.

Herper Chronicles: Of Kings and Dragons

Tue 22nd August, 2017

About: Join herpetologist Noel Thomas of NParks as he speaks about his herpetological explorations in Singapore and elsewhere in south-east Asia. The talk is free for anyone to attend.

When: 22nd August at 7pm

Where: LAB003, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road

Talk: Amphibian Conservation and Midwife Toads

Thu 23rd November, 2017

CPARG Chairman Steven Allain will be giving a joint talk between CPARG and the Cambridge Natural History Society titled 'Amphibian Conservation and Midwife Toads'. The talk will take place in the David Attenborough Building on Pembroke Street, Cambridge between 6:45 and 8:30pm. Steve will talk about the threats posed to amphibians by the chytrid fungus and his research regarding the Cambridge population of midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans). Entry to the talk costs £1.50.

Cambridge City Crematorium Pond Works

Sat 25th November, 2017 - Sun 26th November, 2017

In the last weekend of this November we shall be assisting Paul Doran and Guy Belcher from Cambridge City Council in restoring two of the concrete lined ponds at Cambridge City Crematorium (just off of the A14). The work will take us two days and will draining the old ponds, carefully removing all of the pond life, ripping up the old concrete before re-profiling the ponds before a new liner is laid (if time permits.

Please bring a packed lunch and wrap up sensibly depending on the weather, ensuring that you wear appropriate footwear.

We intend to start for 10am on both the Saturday and Sunday so please aim to be on site for 9:30am. If you do intend to attend and volunteer your time - please email so that we have a rough indication of numbers.


Wed 4th April, 2018

It's that time of year again when CPARG holds it's Annual General Meeting and new members of the committee are elected. This year the AGM will be held on Wednesday 4 April at 7.30pm in the Church Hall of All Saints Church, Church Lane, Milton, CB24 6AB. If you need any help getting there then please do not hesitate to ask for directions.

Alternatively if you'd like to run as one of the officers or other committee members then please get in touch as we're always looking for new people to join the team that helps run CPARG.

The formal business will be followed by a talk given by CPARG's current Chairman, Steven Allain titled: 'Five Years of CPARG' where he will walk us through the successes of CPARG since it’s reformation in late 2012. He’ll take you through a quick tour of CPARG's projects over the past 5 years including some you’ll be familiar with and others that you may not.’

There will also be chance to find out how you can help amphibians and reptiles and about CPARG projects planned for 2018.

All are welcome to attend the meeting but only members will be able to vote. You are welcome to join CPARG and pay at the meeting.


Pond Project

Pond Project

Recent research as identified that urban ponds provide numerous and diverse roles including their ecological function with good quality ponds acting as stepping-stones and refuges for wildlife species within a suriunding of otherwise inhospitable habitat. With this in mind, we are currently looking to find out where all of Cambridge's urban ponds are in an attempt to learn more about the potential dispersal routes of the City's amphibians. It is important to know both where amphibians breed (in terms of public areas) but also where they may also hibernate, which is usually away from breeding ponds and in gardens. Of course amphibians will also breed in garden ponds too and this is useful additional information that we are hoping that you, the constituents of Cambridge will be able to help provide us with. If you're happy for us to make a visit to your garden to survey the pond or give you some advice on how to improve your pond or garden or amphibians then please also let us know of your address. If this is not the case, then please provide us with a grid reference of your pond's location which you can easily find using this free online tool.


Even small garden ponds like the one above can offer plentiful opportunities for amphibians to breed and feed. If you do have a garden pond, the please do get in contact and let us know what species of amphibians you find in it, whether it is stocked with any fish, how old the pond is and how big it is. It is hoped that this information will be used to help inform planning and management of urban areas within Cambridge to benefit amphibians and other wildlife which tend to share the same corridors.

Disclaimer: Any data you share with us will not be shared with any third party groups without your permission first.



CPARG prouds itself with the important conservation research that the group runs, below are short summaries of some of these projects and information on how you can get involved.

Amphibian Surveys

Information coming soon!

Reptile Surveys

Information coming soon!

Toads on Roads

Toads on Roads is a national initiative which aims to help set up and manage toad crossing across the country. Roads are a huge issue for amphibians, with the main threat being that of cars. Roads bisect amphibian migration routes between breeding ponds and over-wintering sites and so the aim of a toad crossing is to help as many toads as possible make it to the other side of the road. There are a number of registered toad crossings within the county, with one of CPARG's most active ones is in central Cambridge. We are looking for volunteers to help organise other crossings in their towns and villages with CPARG helping to support them where we can. If you'd like to know more, please contact Sarah Coulson.

Cambridge Midwife Toads

Since 2015 CPARG has been monitoring the population of midwife toads (Alytes obstetricans) in central Cambridge. The study first started out as a population assessment but then quickly transformed into a disease monitoring exercise. It was feared that when the toads were introduced that they may have been infected with infectious diseases that are deadly to amphibians. These do not affect humans but they have caused huge declines in species around the world. Fortunately so far  no toads have come back positive for the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). We'd like to thank the local residents for allowing us access to their gardens to carry out this important research. If you'd like to know more then please contact Steven Allain.

Dewsbury Trap Analysis

Information coming soon!

Wandlebury Slow Worms

Information coming soon!


Photo gallery

Photo Gallery

Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013
Jun 16, 2013

Contact us

Contact Us

To join our email list please email: and CC

To discuss projects or partnerships please contact Steven Allain, Chair or telephone 07472235469.


To join CPARG please contact Helen Moore, our Membership Secretary.


Please see contact details for specific volunteering opportunities in the Events tab.  Alternatively, for regular fixed sessions see contacts below.

For information about local toad crossings or any toad crossing related queries please contact Sarah Coulson, our Toads on Roads Officer.

Regular fixed sessions coming soon.


To submit photos of events, species or habitats to our gallery please email Mario Shimbov or alternatively upload them to our Facebook page and make it clear you'd like to see the photos posted on the website.


For general herp advice please check these excellent FAQs:

If the answer you need is not there please contact our Advice Officer, Malcolm Busby.

If you've seen what you suspect to be a non-native species then please contact Steven Allain.

We have a small team dealing with possible wildlife crimes committed against herp species - please contact Steve Parnwell who will liaise with the team.



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