Hampshire is fortunate that the county covers a huge geographic area and a very diverse breadth of habitat including: the Isle of Wight, the New Forest National Park, the South Downs National Park, as well as many other unspoiled areas, including Woolmer Forest.
It is therefore unsurprising that we are host to 12 out of the 13 native amphibians and reptiles in UK, including rarities such as the Natterjack Toad, Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake, and wherever you live in the county there will be opportunities to survey and monitor an assemblage of amphibian and reptile species.
HIWARG formed in the Autumn of 2018 and is an affiliated independent ARG-UK group. The group focus is conservation of native UK species essentially around habitat management, surveying, public engagement, volunteer training & doing as much as possible to understand & protect the native species in the county.
All members are volunteers with a common interest.
If you have some spare time and would like to be involved with HIWARG, maybe you have taken a photo of a reptile or amphibian and would like it identified or maybe you have some other query, then please do get in contact email@example.com
CONSERVATION THROUGH EMPATHY BY ENGAGEMENT
Following the increased amphibian activity with this mild weather I am thinking of starting some of our survey and ID training for members a little earlier.
If you are a HIWARG member, check your email address that you used to join with. I will be sending out a generic email to all members on how to access training and I will be sending provisional dates to all current amphibian surveyors and those waiting training.
If you are not a member, but are interested in becoming a HIWARG amphibian surveyor click the 'Join up' tag above.
Temperatures look like they might be starting to drop to in a couple of weeks, but we are likely to continue to spot amphibians for a while yet until temperatures drop to 7°C or lower.
It will be really helpful if everyone can record all amphibians they see over the Autumn/Winter and if you can post your sightings here with the hashtag #hiwargautumnalamphibians2022 we can use this to track amphibians sightings to compare the last dates we see them and when they reappear again in the spring.
No need to visit ponds if you'd rather not in this weather, sometimes a torchlit walk in your garden, or an evening dog walk around 7pm is just as good for spotting amphibians out for a wander.
Please add your sightings to www.recordpool.org.uk and don't forget to post your photos her with the hashtag 🐸
Paid up HIWARG members keep an eye on your email inbox over the next couple of days. We will be emailing out details for upcoming amphibian survey and ID training opportunities.
If you are interested in becoming a member of HIWARG, visit our website at https://groups.arguk.org/hiwarg and click the "Join up or Log in" tab
With this amphibian friendly weather, HIWARG are holding an autumnal challenge:
Visit a pond after dark with your torch, and a friend or two, and record the amphibians you spot. It is dark enough for torch surveys from 7pm ish onwards, so you could check out a pond on an evening walk with family or friends and still be home at a decent time. If you are heading to a pub or restaurant, check a pond out on the way. By using a torch, you don't need to get wet or messy, just stand next to the pond and shine your torch in the water. Stronger torches have better chances to illuminate amphibians beneath the water.
You can find everything you need to spot and ID amphibians in a pond by visiting our website's "Info and ID Guides" tab. We have uploaded everything from Risk Assessments and lone working guides to a range of ID sheets.
I will also be running some amphibian survey and ID sessions over the next few months. These will be open to members, but you can join us for £6 a year on our website under the "Join up or Login" tab.
You can share your sightings on our Facebook group as part of the challenge or for help with IDs. You can also post your photos on any social media platform with the challenge's hashtag below.
Finally, hashtag your FB group posts with #HIWARGAutumnalAmphibians2022 and lets see who gets the most sightings. Go!
Excerpt from BBC News:
"Switzerland has reversed the decline of more than half of endangered frogs, toads and newts in one region, research finds.
After conservationists dug hundreds of new ponds in the canton of Aargau, amphibian numbers significantly increased. The European tree frog population in particular "exploded", scientists say. Scientists hope this method could be used globally as pond building is simple and effective."
Amphibian Identification - downloadable colour cards : a great ID guide from ARG UK/ARC
Newt Eggs & Larvae - downloadable colour cards : an excerpt from the above guide, specifically on newt eggs and larvae
Its a small newt but which one : a HIWARG guide to help differentiate smooth newts and palmate newts
Reptile Identification - downloadable colour cards : a great ID guide from ARG UK/ARC
Non-Native Species ID Sheets (NNSS Website) : ID sheets from the Non Native Species Secretariat
Alien Amphibian and Reptile Species in the UK : A bilingual guide (English/Welsh) from ARC
Upcoming events will be listed here.