Welcome to the Norfolk Amphibian and Reptile Group (Norfolk ARG) website.
The Norfolk ARG is a grassroots conservation group formed of volunteers, aiming to help improve the knowledge and the conservation status of reptiles and amphibians in Norfolk. We are one of a number of ARG groups across the country, all working under the ‘ARG-UK’ umbrella.
The core objectives of the organisation are:
We are always on the lookout for new members to help achieve these aims, no experience is necessary as we can provide full training. Some of our activities are very hands on and others are desk-based allowing everyone to get involved not matter their ability or time commitments.
Earlier on this month, a meeting was held to try and identify the owners of Issacs Pond on Church Road, Tittleshall. At this present moment in time, we are still trying to find out who owns the pond. We are aiming to revitalise the pond, bringing it back to its former glory. There has been no management of the pond for approximately 9 years, so it is going to need a lot of TLC. Once we've identified the owner, this work would be done in the autumn or winter. The pond has been checked regularly to determine its permanence, the water level does vary but in general it is on the up.
Looking forward to the 2022 spring survey season, we're hoping to establish whether amphibians utilise this pond, such as common toads. If so, then it may have the potential to become a new Toads on Roads site. We've still got a long way to go yet, but it always helps to get the ball rolling early!
Late last month, members of the Norfolk Amphibian and Reptile Group visited Litcham Common to investigate the potential of the site for reptile surveys. The last time the Common was surveyed for reptiles was 2013, and some of the artificial cover objects are still there (although not many). We've applied to the ARG UK 100% Fund in order to purchase some roofing felt to act as artificial cover objects to allow us to survey the site for reptiles. This has been successful and we're now awaiting the funds to be transferred before we can lay out the felt and then begin surveying Litcham Common. If you'd like to get involved with the surveys, please get in touch although we'll be contacting our members closer to the time.
We think it is safe to say that Litcham’s toad patrol should be reinstated. Unfortunately, it has been inactive for many years, but no longer thanks to the vital work of the Norfolk Amphibian and Reptile Group. The unpredictable weather has made this toad patrol season very up and down, with the temperature plummeting too many times to count. Patrolling of the area continued, despite a lack of deceased toads on the road as they wouldn’t be out in such cold weather. But sometimes, you just never know. The total number of toads that was moved off the road and towards their breeding ponds were 420. That’s a lot of toads live saved! Thank you to our valued local volunteers who assisted in the patrol. There is always the possibility that some moved across the road when patrollers were not present, but with this evidence we feel it is safe to assume that the Litcham Toad Patrol needs regular patrolling each year, now we've confirmed that toads are still crossing there!
Our Toad Patrol Officer Lana Deaton says "Totalling all the lives that was saved up has made me feel truly humbled and I am very proud to be a toad patroller. I look forward to the next toad patrol season". If you'd like to help Lana then please do get in touch using the 'Contact Us' page.
The Toad Patrol season has officially started! Spring is well on its way after the recent cold snap. We've started our toad search in Litcham to see if there is any need of reinstating the patrol. NARG Member Lana Deaton has been undertaking these surveys and is currently looking for more volunteers to assist her. There isn't much information available on where these toads will be crossing the roads, although after some trial and error the toads have been found crossing on Weasenham Road and Wellington Road. There are a number of ponds in te landscape here, although where the toads are breeding is still a mystery. There is ample evidence that the Toad Patrol in Litcham needs revitalising, once we've established which ponds are being used by the toads. If you've got any information that may aid in this, or if you'd like to get involved with saving the toads, please do get in touch using the 'Contact Us' page.
Each year, the Freshwater Habitats Trust launches a national project to track the phenology of amphibians, by asking members of the public to record when they see amphibian spawn and tadpoles. We're happy to say that this project is now live for 2021! You can find more information on the Spawn Survey 2021 website by clicking this link, including how to identify amphibians and their spawn.
It's important to track the phenology of amphibians as it helps to indicate how their breeding season may be affected by climate change. Usually the Freshwater Habitats Trust doesn't launch the survey until later in the year, but given the mild winter we've had this year, amphibians are already breeding and laying spawn in some parts of the country. Therefore please keep an eye out in your garden pond or along country tracks for the signs of spawn and record them using the link above!
Native amphibians and reptiles
Native Norfolk herpetofauna includes the adder (Vipera berus); barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica); slow worm (Anguis fragilis); common/viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara); common frog (Rana temporaria); common toad (bufo bufo); natterjack toad (Bufo calamita); great crested newt (Triurus cristatus); palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) and smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris).
Norfolk is also the reintroduction site for the native pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae) which became extinct in the UK. A 2005 reintroduction project saw specimen brought over from Sweden to re-establish a UK population, a second population has since been establised. This work has been undertaken by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust.
Like many other counties, Norfolk is also home to populations of non-native herpetofauna species such as the midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans). It is important to monitor these species and to study their impact on our native species.