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 email@example.com, 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.
I AM writing in response to recent concerns over adders that have been expressed by the Health Protection Agency, and your report (Monday’s Oxford Mail) about a dog being bitten in Wantage.
We would like to reassure readers that the risk of an adder bite is infinitesimally small, since they are almost extinct in our county, with only a handful of individuals remaining on protected reserves.
In terms of risk to human or animal health you are more at risk from: bee stings, allergens, getting out of the bath, and making a cup of tea, to name but a few hazardous everyday activities.
In fact, there have only ever been 14 reported deaths from adder bites in Britain, and none since 1975 – nearly 40 years ago.
Our greatest concern is of persecution against a species that is already one of Britain’s most threatened.
Adders have suffered from centuries of persecution and habitat loss. They are declining across many areas of Britain, and are extinct in several counties in England.
We would also like to point out that they are protected from killing and injury, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
If any of your readers do have concerns, please contact the Oxfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group via our website.
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We are always very happy to follow up on any possible adder sighting (or indeed any other amphibian or reptile records).
However, sadly, given the plight of this iconic creature, to date all have turned out to be grass snakes or slow worms (actually a legless lizard), both of which are entirely harmless (unless you are a slug or snail).
Dr ANGELA JULIAN, Secretary, OxARG, Gidley Way, Horspath
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