DRAG aims to raise awareness and understanding of the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, in Devon and the UK, through reptile and amphibian recording, and habitat management work. DRAG aims to bring together people with an interest in reptiles and amphibians.
If you would like to find out more about reptiles and amphibians in Devon, ask for advice or want to get involved with events and surveys, please get in touch!
If you are interested in becoming a DRAG member, send us your details so we can add you to our mailing list for exciting events and activities that are not always advertised on the website.
A sunny day was enjoyed by all at the Yarner Wood Spring Woodland Festival yesterday, near Bovey Tracey. A huge thanks to DRAG Volunteers Stephen, James, Jette and Steve for giving up their Saturday to raise the profile of reptiles and amphibians to young families attending the festival. Our DRAG stand was a hub of face-painting, card-snake and origami-frog making activity. We had guest appearances by frog tadpoles, newt larva, adult male palmate newt and a large female toad from a pond nearby. Pond-dipping excursions, to a pond 10minutes walk away, were rewarded with frog tadpoles, caddisfly larvae, mayfly larvae, damselfly adult and larvae, whilst being serenaded by wood warbler, blackcap and greater spotted woodpecker. Thanks to Natural England’s Andy Bailey for inviting DRAG to attend such a lively event where over 500 people were estimated to have attended, of which 33 attended our busiest pond-dipping session so far!
See photos in the Gallery.
Thanks to Steve for leading a successful sand lizard survey and walk for DRAG members. Please check out the Gallery for Stacey Thew’s cracking photos. If you want to hear about walks and events, please email us to be added to the DRAG email list on email@example.com.
Please see our Gallery for shots from our great crested newt training sessions and recent surveys.
Although we have just passed the peak of the survey season for great crested newts, or ‘Cresties’ as they are affectionately known, we would still be keen to hear about new sites where they occur. In particular, we’d love to hear from landowners who are able to let us survey their sites.
Please forward the location, post code and date for the sightings (plus your contact details) to DBRC preferably by email DBRC@dbrc.org.uk (or call 01392 274128). There is also an online recording form at http://www.dbrc.org.uk/. Click the ‘Send us your wildlife records' box on the left-hand side of the screen.
Where better to run a great crested newt training course than in Newt-on Abbot?! Thanks to Nicky Green (Green Ecology) for organising the comprehensive indoor and outdoor training course and Stephen Carroll (Teignbridge District Council) for his policy talk and providing the venue and to the enthusiastic attendees. Funds raised by the course will go towards DRAG and great crested newt surveys to improve our knowledge of their distribution in Devon. Many of the attendees have kindly volunteered to survey for great crested newts this spring to verify previous sightings and find new sites. As great crested newts are most active during the darkest hours of the night, it is believed they are perhaps just under recorded and may be more widespread than previously thought.
We were very lucky with the weather and attendees put their new skills to the test with positive results. We managed to find signs of breeding great crested and palmate newts, such as eggs within folded leaves. The newts in their aquatic breeding phase were well adapted to move quickly through the water. At night we waited patiently to get a glimpse of newts coming up for air at the water’s surface and some were lucky to get views of newts doing their underwater courtship dance. With Nicky as our licensed trainer, we were able to catch great crested newts and learn how best to handle these delicate creatures. On the second weekend we caught two females and two males and were able to gently turn them over to behold their striking orange and black bellies – which are like fingerprints unique to each individual.
If you think you have seen a great crested newt (see the photos in our Photo Gallery and our ‘Wanted poster’) please forward the location, post code and date of the sightings (plus your contact details) to the Devon Biodiversity Record Centre preferably by email DBRC@dbrc.org.uk (or call 01392 274128). There is also an online recording form at http://www.dbrc.org.uk/. Click the ‘Send us your wildlife records' box on the left-hand side of the screen.
Thanks to all who attended the AGM!
We had a good turn out, for the AGM proper and the great crested newts (GCN) meeting. Headline notes were that we still need keen volunteers to help with organising DRAG such as Events Officer and Secretary. We also discussed the toads project and GCNs. At the moment, DRAG has not charged either membership fees and, rarely, for events. There was some discussion on whether this should change as DRAG has a poor income stream which puts the Group at a disadvantage for future events and conservation projects. We are also looking at improving DRAG web presence, such as setting up a Facebook page.
A big thanks to Tracey Hamston and Living Coasts for organising the venue. We benefitted from a lunchtime grand tour of the site, met chough, rays, seahorses and seals and learnt about some of their captive breeding successes, eg for penguins.
I'm looking forward to another year of surveys and events - and hope to see you there!
Please get in touch if you want to help volunteer or find out more.
Upcoming events will be listed here.