Dorset Amphibian and Reptile Network (DARN)
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About us

About Us

DARN is a network of people in Dorset interested in our native reptiles and amphibians. Its purpose is to promote the conservation, recording and appreciation of native amphibians and reptiles in the county of Dorset. DARN serves as a means of communication between volunteers, professionals and the general public. DARN members pay an annual fee of £6 and then when suitably trained they can  take part in our widespread reptile surveys. These can be viewed once reptile surveyor status has been achieved. DARN is also running the SliC project - Slow-worms in Churchyards. We have rare reptile survey sites on FE and MOD land and we are continually adding new transects as we expand our activities across the county.   

Dorset has 12 of the UK's 13 native amphibian and reptile species, and a handful of non-native species. Its internationally-important heathlands are famous as national strongholds for the rare reptiles - Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake - and southwest England's only populations of our second-rarest amphibian, the Natterjack Toad. With such an important wildlife heritage in Dorset, several wildlife NGOs have their headquarters in the county, including the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC). Together with the various statutory bodies and local authorities, this means Dorset has many wildlife professionals. DARN aims to form a link between all these people, and to nurture an appreciation among the general public for our herpetofaunal friends.

Sheila Dyason is Chair of DARN and you can email her at: sheiladyason2007@yahoo.co.uk with 'DARN' in the subject header. DARN Dispatches is a newsletter that is produced every two months, telling you of news, items of interest, and projects to get involved in; and there will be at least one annual meeting or event. Dorset is home to some of the most important reptile and amphibian populations in the country, with a high concentration of protected sites, and a buzz of conservation activities and research projects. There are endless opportunities for helping out by volunteering, and there are already many volunteers in the county who give their time towards projects helping to conserve our herpetofauna, and raise awareness.

The History of the DARN Group

DARN was set up as a surveying and recording group on 30/01/2020. Previously it had been an email and facebook group.

The founding members were Sheila Dyason as Chair, Catherine Dyason as Secretary, Pete Gillatt as Treasurer.

The Group started with rare reptile sites which Sheila had arranged with Forestry England to survey as part of HIWARG – the Hampshire Group. Some of them had been set up and monitored by David Tamarind who sadly died recently. There were not any widespread species surveys for members to get involved with so Sheila set up the SliC Project – Slow-worms in Churchyards - as a way to get members involved in surveying.  

As of July 2021 DARN has 8 widespread reptile transects set up in north Dorset and three more rare reptile transects including one on MOD land. DARN is working with land owners and managers such as Forestry England, Butterfly Conservation, the Dorset Wildlife Trust, the MOD, church communities and private land owners.

 

News

News

DARN Dispatches 8

Posted on Saturday 17th July, 2021

I am sure that many of you would have known David Tamarind as he had been herping in Dorset for many decades. He sadly passed away recently. He was collecting data on rare reptiles right up to the end even though mobility problems were slowing him down. He will be sadly missed.

DARN continues to expand its activities with more surveyors, more transects, more sightings. So, thank you to everyone for continuing to make DARN so successful!

The SliC surveys – Slow-worms in Churchyards – are also continuing to expand and we soon hope to have sites across Dorset. Slow-worms have been found in all the Dorset burial ground sites that we are surveying and Warren Port and Tina-Louise Gower have also found a Grass Snake and a Great Crested Newt at one churchyard which was particularly exciting. If you know of other churchyards that might like to participate then please let me know.

David, our foreign correspondent in Greece, continues to send us wonderful photos of sightings from his back garden and beyond. Thanks David. Keep them coming!

A zoom Committee meeting was held recently and plans for the future discussed.

Warren has reminded us that it was International Snake Day yesterday and he shared some photos of Dorset snakes to celebrate.

   adder1  grass snake1smooth snake1

Thanks Warren!

As usual, if you have any records, historic ones are fine as well, add them to Casual Sightings on the DARN website: www.groups.arguk.org/darn  or on Record Pool: www.recordpool.org.uk or email the details to: sheiladyason2007@yahoo.co.uk

Also, if you are interested in becoming a DARN reptile surveyor, email me and we will arrange for ARGWEB and field survey training if it is needed and then you will be given access to our widespread transect sites and you can help us to record reptiles in Dorset.

I look forward to hearing from you

Keep safe!

Sheila Dyason

Chair of DARN

Conservation opportunities for everyone!


DARN Dispatches 7

Posted on Monday 10th May, 2021

DARN Dispatches 7

Well, we’re in the middle of spring but it has been pretty nippy recently.

DARN continues to expand in all directions with more surveyors, more transects, more sightings. So, thank you to everyone who is helping to make DARN so successful!

HIWARG has been a good friendly neighbour and helped us with some ARGWEB and field survey training.

We have new transects in North Dorset with more to follow and one on an MOD site which is particularly exciting.

The SliC surveys – Slow-worms in Churchyards – are also continuing to expand with sites in Dorset, Hants, Berks and soon in Wilts as well. So far Slow-worms have been found in more than 25% of the sites and in Dorset in more than 70% of the churchyards. If you know of other churchyards that might like to participate then please let me know.

David, our foreign correspondent in Greece, continues to send us wonderful photos of sightings from his back garden and beyond. Thanks David. Keep them coming!

A BBQ is being planned for DARN surveyors for the end of the season. More details next time.

As you probably know we have registered Dorset Amphibian and Reptile Network (DARN) with #easyfundraising, which means over 4,000 shops and sites will now donate to us for FREE every time we use #easyfundraising to shop with them.

These donations will help SO MUCH, so please sign up to support us – it is completely FREE and does not take long.

EASYFUNDRAISING.ORG.UK

You shop. Dorset Amphibian and Reptile Network (DARN) gets money. For free.

Help us when you shop with 4,300 shops & sites. Join now.

So far more than £30 has been raised through EasyFundRaising which is brilliant! Thanks everyone – that will fund another reptile transect.

As usual, if you have any records, historic ones are fine as well, add them to Casual Sightings on the DARN website: www.groups.arguk.org/darn  or on Record Pool: www.recordpool.org.uk or email the details to: sheiladyason2007@yahoo.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you

And I eagerly anticipate even more great things for DARN in 2021

Keep safe!

Sheila Dyason

Chair of DARN

Conservation opportunities for everyone!


DARN Dispatches 6

Posted on Thursday 4th March, 2021

DARN Dispatches 6

Well, spring is nearly here and there have been some fantastic Adder and Common Lizard sightings already.

Don’t forget to add your sightings to ARGWEB or Record Pool.

www.recordpool.org.uk

Frog spawn can be added as well. There were 70+ clumps at Ringwood Forest which was more than twice as much as last year. Five clumps in my little garden ponds and Palmate Newts.

Toad patrols were difficult to carry out this year unless there was one locally.

Unfortunately, we only managed one habitat management session but we still made an impact and thanks to Pete Gillatt (HIWARG) there is now a reptile transect set up in Hurn Forest as well.

The SliC Project – Slow-worms In Churchyards - now has 23 transects set up and 12 waiting to be set up so let’s hope for a bumper crop of Slow-worms.

The Zoom Herp Workers Meeting was a great success and there was even a talk on Slow-worms by Allyson Hawkins (HIWARG). The ARG UK AGM was the following week and the local ARGS had the opportunity to report on their Group’s activities. So yes, I gave an update on the SliC project and some craft activities I have been developing for a ‘Slow-worms are Sensational’ pack. I had permission to develop this from the ‘Adders are Amazing’ pack.

The other exciting new is that I have just been appointed as an Administrator for ARG UK on a part-time temporary contract to help with projects etc.

We’ve registered Dorset Amphibian and Reptile Network (DARN) with #easyfundraising, which means over 4,000 shops and sites will now donate to us for FREE every time we use #easyfundraising to shop with them.

These donations will help SO MUCH, so please sign up to support us – it’s completely FREE and doesn’t take long.

EASYFUNDRAISING.ORG.UK

You shop. Dorset Amphibian and Reptile Network (DARN) gets money. For free.

Help us when you shop with 4,300 shops & sites. Join now.

Hopefully in a few weeks, as the lockdown gradually eases, we will be able to move around the county a bit more, set up some more transects and get surveying.

As usual, if you have any records, historic ones are fine as well, add them to Casual Sightings on the DARN website: www.groups.arguk.org/darn  or on Record Pool: www.recordpool.org.uk or email the details to: sheiladyason2007@yahoo.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you

And I eagerly anticipate great things for DARN in 2021

Keep safe!

Sheila Dyason

Chair of DARN

Conservation opportunities for everyone!


DARN Dispatches 5

Posted on Monday 14th December, 2020

DARN Dispatches 5

                                                                         Scan 20201214a

A big thank you to everyone who has helped to makes DARN’s first year so successful despite the ongoing Coronavirus issues. Also, a special thank you to our friends at HIWARG (Hampshire and Isle of Wight Amphibian and Reptile Group) who continue to be so supportive of all we are trying to achieve.

And what a lot we have achieved!!!

*We have 10 transects set up on 3 major rare reptile sites

*We have 3 transects set up to survey for widespread reptile species and more are being  

  planned

*We have collected Frog, Toad and Newt data from numerous ponds across the county

*The SliC (Slow-worms in Churchyards) Project now has transects set up in 20 churchyards

  and burial grounds and we have permission to set up 10 more.

*Our membership continues to steadily increase

*Habitat management has been carried out to remove Pine and Birch from heather banks and

  verges

There are more habitat management sessions planned with the next one is at Hurn Forest on Sunday 3rd January 2021. The details are on the Events page. So if you would like to come along and help to improve the habitat for reptiles you will find a warm welcome. Just make sure that your DARN membership is up to date and for insurance purposes, that you have completed the Volunteer Worker’s Agreement (VWA). The session will run from 10 – 1 but you can leave at any time. To join us just click ‘going’ on the Events page. It will be a socially distanced event in accordance with the latest Government guidelines and it will be a joint event with HIWARG members.

If you know of any areas that would benefit from some extra habitat management then let me know. Also, if you know of other churchyards, burial grounds or other areas where a reptile  transect could be set up let me know.

So, if you have some spare time, there are plenty of opportunities to join in and help conserve Dorset’s amphibians and reptiles; meet other volunteers and see some stunning scenery and wildlife.

If you have any records, historic ones are fine as well, add them to Casual Sightings on the DARN website: www.groups.arguk.org/darn  or on Record Pool: www.recordpool.org.uk or email the details to: sheiladyason2007@yahoo.co.uk

If you have any ideas for activities or for developing the Group just email me.

I look forward to hearing from you

And I eagerly anticipate great things for 2021

Keep safe!

Sheila Dyason

Chair of DARN

Conservation opportunities for everyone!


Darn Dispatches 4

Posted on Tuesday 20th October, 2020

DARN Dispatches 4

Hello again!

I hope you’re all still keeping safe and well.

The SliC Project (Slow-worms in Churchyards) is progressing well. There are now 10 churches participating in Dorset and Hampshire with more joining later in the week. If you think your local church might be interested in joining in the SliC Project, just let me know and I will send them a leaflet. You could then help to monitor the site if you wanted to.

Habitat Management season is upon us. Some dates have been arranged with Forestry England for birch and pine removal at Hurn Forest:

Sunday 1st November 2020                                         Sunday 22nd November 2020

Sunday 13th December 2020                                       Sunday 3rd January 2021

Sunday 24th January 2021                                           Sunday 14th February 2021

If you would like to come along then make sure that your DARN membership is up to date and for insurance purposes, that you have completed the Volunteer Worker’s Agreement (VWA). The sessions will run from 10 – 1 but you can leave at any time. To join us just click ‘going’ on the Events page. They will be socially distanced events in accordance with the latest Government guidelines and they will be joint events with HIWARG members.

If you know of any areas that would benefit from a trim then let me know.

I shall be meeting up with Gillingham Town Council later this week to set up a reptile transect. Another transect was set up last week and one is planned for the beginning of November. They are all in North Dorset. If you know of other areas that could be surveyed or if you would like to set up a transect near where you live let me know and we will investigate the possibility.

So, if you have some spare time, there are plenty of opportunities to join in and help conserve Dorset’s amphibians and reptiles; meet other volunteers and see some stunning scenery and wildlife.

If you have any records, historic ones are fine as well, add them to Casual Sightings on the DARN website: www.groups.arguk.org/darn  or on Record Pool: www.recordpool.org.uk or email the details to: sheiladyason2007@yahoo.co.uk

If you have any ideas for activities or for developing the Group just email me.

I look forward to hearing from you

Keep safe!

Best wishes

Sheila Dyason

Chair of DARN

Conservation opportunities for everyone!


Events

Events

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Info & ID guides

Info & ID guides

Herp Identification - downloadable colour charts

Amphibian Identification - downloadable colour cards 

Reptile Identification - downloadable colour cards

Newt Eggs & Larvae - downloadable colour cards 

Dogs & Adders - downloadable advice sheet.   

Improving Herp habitat

Creating Garden Ponds - downloadable booklet   

Herp diseases - recognise & report

Snake Fungal Disease  

Toad fly (Lucilia bufonivora)   

Amphibian Chytridiomycosis  

Ranavirus Disease  

Reptile Slough Genebank - collection & submission of found sloughs  

Other  

Useful glossary of terms often used within the herpetological field. (Credit due - unknown)      


Kids stuff - Educational items for the young ones

Pond pack                                                             
Pond Pack                                                  








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