Affiliated to ARG UK, OxARG is the local amphibian and reptile group for Oxfordshire. Our members are drawn from a range of backgrounds including: enthusiastic amateur naturalists, professional ecologists, professional conservationists, statutory agencies, toad patrollers - and folk who enjoy looking at frogs in their garden pond. Everyone is welcome!! In addition to our individual members, we also have close links with a number of local wildlife groups, including: the wildlife trust (BBOWT), Oxford Urban Wildlife Group, Friends' of Lye Valley, Friends’ of Aston’s Eyot, Friends' of the Trap Grounds and Shotover Wildlife.
Every year we run a number of training events, for amphibians and reptiles for OxARG members. As well as our own events, we also attend events run by other organisations including: Oxfordshire Goes Wild at the Natural History Museum, the Oxford Urban Bioblitz and Go Wild in the Chilterns. By taking live animals along with supporting literature we hope to enable people to experience and understand better our native herps at first hand. We’ve also conducted regular amphibian surveys including training students from both Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, at Earth Trust and BBOWT sites, as well as a special amphibian training courses for OxARG members in partnership with BBOWT.
Everybody has been hugely enthusiastic about record collecting, and we are up-dating our database at a great rate. However, one of our major concerns is still our declining adder population and despite following up all reports, our only confirmed (small) population is at the BBOWT Warburg reserve.
If anybody does spot an adder - or indeed any other reptile or amphibian in Oxfordshire please tell us about it. Either e-mail us, or put your record directly into the ARG UK record pool online at: http://www.arguk.org/recording.
Spring has well and truly sprung in Oxfordshire, with large numbers of amphibians breeding across the county. The results from our toad patrollers, show encouraging numbers of amphibians at their traditional crossing points with a whopping 7,798 toads crossing the A4155 near Henley Business School; the highest total recorded in the last 18 years, after the peak of 10,501 in 2010. The Henley patrollers also found 1072 frogs, and 236 newts, also a local record. Elsewhere in the county, the Kennington Patrollers from Bagley Wood, transported over 300 toads across the Oxford Road on their way to the ponds near Chandlings School, and the Oxford City patrollers collected around 240 toads from the streets adjacent to Abingdon Road in Oxford. Our thanks go to these hardy folk who go out night after night, braving the cold and rain, and speeding rush hour traffic, to save our amphibian friends.
Elsewhere we've also had lots of reports of amphibians spawning in garden ponds, and other water bodies around Oxfordshire including ditches, ponds, lakes and even the River Thames, and we'd especially like to thank Nicola Devine from The Friends of the Trap Grounds in Oxford for this fantastic photo.
If you have any additional toad patrol data - please do let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org, as it helps us to build up the picture across the whole county. And if you spot any amphibians or reptiles, in your garden or out in the countryside, please do put them into our Record Pool: www.recordpool.org.uk.
Thames Water are holding a family day at Farmoor on Sunday 16th September. The day includes a 'bioblitz' that will run between 6am and midnight, although don't worry there is no need to be there all day, if you can spare an hour that would be great!
Our day on the 16th will include a bird ringing demo, guided birdwatching walks, bug hunts, pond dipping, small mammal trapping, plant surveys, reptile surveys, moth trapping, badger watch and a bat walk. We will also have a small marquee up for stands by various conservation bodies. It promises to be a fantastic day, so do come along and bring your families! For further info contact: email@example.com or turn up on the day
The ARG UK Midlands regional meeting is to be held on Saturday 22 September 2012. The venue is the Gallery Suite at Conkers Waterside Centre, Bath Lane, Moira. There will be presentations on capturing great crested newts, adder DNA studies, recording herps, melanistic snakes, and more, including our very own Dr Rob Oldham speaking on the toads of Coleorton. There will also be round-ups from each of the county ARGs across the Midlands, and a chance to speak to others interested in herps. Attendance for the day costs £6 for LARN members, and this includes refreshments. A booking form will be circulated shortly, to be returned to Derbyshire ARG.
Advance notice of the Wales Amphibian and Reptile Symposium in Llandrindod Wells on the 3rd November 2012. This meeting is open to anyone with an interest in Welsh herpetofauna and their conservation (programme attached). Spaces are limited, and there is a reduced fee for early booking. Please register at www.welshdragons.org.
The 2013 Herpetofauna Workers meeting will be held at Herriot Watt University, Edinburgh this year. We are hoping for lots of support – from all sides of the border (and further afield) – so please put this date into your diaries. We will be in touch very soon with more information and costs.