None of this would have been possible without the dedication and help of KRAG volunteers! To all the gardeners who came to the stall, and everyone who pitched in to help over the weekend, a very big THANK YOU!
The SE Regional Meeting organised by KRAG has proved to be a tremendous success. In light of grave concerns regarding the conservation plight of the adder, Dr. Chris Gleed-Owen has prepared a press release on behalf of the group. It appears that news of the conference has started to filter into the National Press.
From the press release:
Experts have declared that Britain’s only venomous snake, the adder, is in urgent need of conservation action. With adder numbers declining in many areas, conservationists paint a bleak picture for its future unless help is forthcoming.
Attendees voted unanimously to adopt a motion that:
‘The adder is in more urgent need of new conservation efforts than any other reptile or amphibian species in Britain.’
Despite its widespread distribution across the whole of Britain, adder numbers are thought to be declining rapidly in many areas. The species is already extinct from whole counties such as Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire. The adder conference held on Saturday 19 November 2011 saw speakers come from across Britain, as well as France and Switzerland, to give their interpretations of the situation facing adders in their area.
‘It was a great success, and amazing to see so many people who care about saving adders. Hopefully now help is at hand,’ - Gail Austen-Price, KRAG Chairman.
One of the biggest threats facing adders today is accidental damage or destruction of their winter hibernation sites. Adders often hibernate communally in mammal burrows or under tree roots, and if such a place is damaged, a whole population can be wiped out.
Despite nature conservation being implemented on thousands of protected sites across Britain, it is often these sites where adders suffer the most. Well-meaning activities such as scrub clearance can have unforeseen consequences that are devastating for hibernating adders. The ARG UK adder conference set a milestone by announcing that the adder’s plight is reaching a critical point, and now is the time for government bodies and conservation organisations to take action. ARG UK now plans to set up a website for a flagship survey project called Make the Adder Count, where volunteers monitor adder numbers at their local sites. ARG UK also wants to set up a register of hibernation sites, to alert local authorities and other countryside managers of these crucial locations. Conservationists admit that adders suffer from a poor public image, and the next step is to produce a battle plan to raise awareness and appreciation.
'The adder is an enigmatic snake, steeped in history and folklore from the druids to Shakespeare and Arthurian legend. It would be tragic to see it disappear, but it suffers from a public image problem that makes it difficult for many people to love,’ - Dr Chris Gleed-Owen.
In Kent, a project set up by Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group in 2004 has been monitoring local adder populations. Despite significant effor to raise awareness within the county, adders remain vulnerable to disturbance and persecution. KRAG's 'Adders in Decline' Project may have been initiated 7 years ago, but its work has barely begun...
If you share our concerns about the plight of what is surely one Britain's most exciting wild animals please get in touch. KRAG needs active volunteers who are prepared to help record the location of adders, talk to landowners and help convince conservation organisations that the adder is a species woth conserving.
You may have noticed that there has been virtually no activity from Sussex ARG for quite a considerable time. This is due to a number of reasons , but mainly down to changes in commitments of many of the existing committee members. Sussex ARG was the first ARG to be established in the UK and now, more than ever our native species are under ever increasing risk - so now is a good time to re-establish the group. This is your chance to shape Sussex ARG into a new and effective conservation group. As with all conservation groups, key roles need to be filled and new initiatives brought in.
As a starting point we now have a new presence on the web:
In a very short space of time the website has received hundreds of hits but it needs to provide much more comprehensive information and updated items. To see what other ARG's are doing go to the Surrey ARG site:
If you would like to help re-launch SxARG, we are setting up informal meetings in East and West Sussex during December. The dates are 6th December @ 19:30 at Sussex Wildlife Trusts HQ at Woods Mill in Henfield and13th December @ 19:30 at the Linkleter Pavillion in Lewes.
If you are interested in attending either of these meetings, or can not attend but would like to be involved in Sussex ARG please contact Barry Kemp via email.
KRAG is hosting the SE Regional ARG meeting on Saturday 19th November 2011.
The day will focus on one of KRAG's flagship projects Adders in Decline and will have presentations not only from Kent but from elsewhere in the UK and continental Europe. There will also be the usual county by county round up of what has been going on around the region. The meeting will be held at the Chatham Campus of the University of Greenwich and the group looks forward to your participation in what will be a very lively meeting.
Further information will appear as the programme develops and registration opens, but don’t wait for that, mark your diary now!!
Jo Richards and team did a fantastic job at this year's Kent Garden Show. Over a very busy three day period 506 records were collected by Verity Webster, Amy Wright, Mary Barnard, Anne Barrett, Catherine Churcher and Mike Phillips (not forgetting Jo!). Well done to all!
Catherine and Anne sporting KRAG's new t-shirts
This is also the first time that KRAG's new iPad has been field tested. The KRAG db has been updated to run on the iPad, with the design modified to allow quick entry of very basic information on what folks have seen in their gardens.
Each of the species icons acts as a button. When pressed, the current year is inserted. This can be modified if the record is from a previous year. Once data has been entered and checked for errors, the 'Accept Records' button is pressed and a script converts all of the information into individual species records. Data can be downloaded from the iPad and emailed to me for immediate import into the main database. Using tools freely available from Ordnance Survey, we can convert post codes into six figure grid references. The database can then convert the grid references into latitude/longitude data for viewing in Google Earth (or Google Maps as shown below).
Of the 506 records entered onto the iPad, just 12 were found to be unusable (e.g. incorrect postcode provided). Eighteen records are from outside of KRAG's recording area and have not been validated. Eight records have been listed as 'unconfirmed', with 468 considered to be 'within expected range'. For more information on the system KRAG uses to validate records, see this earlier blog post.
Individual species results are listed below:
Species Records (%)
Common Frog 27
Smooth Newt 15
Common Toad 11
Grass Snake 10
Unknown Newt sp. 6
Viviparous Lizard 4
Great Cresated Newt 3
Palmate Newt 1
Marsh Frog <1
Unknown Snake <1
A number of records were provided with incomplete site information and these are not included in the above list (the records will take a little longer to process since the grid references need to be manually derived from Google Earth or paper maps).
Records collected at events such as the Kent Garden Show provide very interesting insights into encounter rates by members of the public. I'm currently reviewing data from this and other events to see how we can use the information as part of our ongoing monitoring programme for the county.
[update - a couple of typos corrected and records converted into percentages to make comparisons easier]
To be held at Kilmory Community Centre, Blackpool. Saturday April 16th; midday to 9pm
Training will cover:
•Survey methods and survey planning
•Evening torch search
Training will cover all the essential skills needed to survey for amphibians and report the data accurately. The event will take place at Kilmory Community Centre, Kilmory Place (off Kincraig Road) Blackpool FY2 0XS. Please bring lunch and suitable outdoor clothing.
The event is free to Amphibian and Reptile Group members, £6 to non members.
Places are limited so please book early to confirm your place by e-mailing Pauline Taylor.
This event has been organised by the North Blackpool Pond Trail Project to encourage the recording of amphibians in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside as part of the Lancashire Atlas Project.
Over the coming season ARGSL volunteers will be out and about collecting amphibian and reptile distribution data from across the Vice County of South Lancashire. This data will be added to the ARGSL database and from there it can be shared with local records centres and the NBN.
To explain what is being planned and what ARGSL do with the data that is collected, a meeting will take place at The Barn, Cuerden Park, PRESTON at 2pm on Monday, February 15th. ARGSL Chair David Orchard will give an introduction to the work of ARGSL and the group's survey plans for the year, after which yours truly will give a short presentation to demonstrate the group's database in action. If you record in Lancashire and would like to attend, please let David Orchard know as soon as possible.
The theme of this year's Kent Field Club organised conference is:
Improving connectivity across our landscape: linking habitats and populations
Date: 17th October 2009
10.00 - 16.00
The Old Sessions Lecture Theatre, Canterbury Christ Church University College, Kent
The aim of this year’s conference is to look at how the interlinking of habitats and populations across the landscape influences our local wildlife. First of all, the flora and fauna need to be mapped on a site by site basis so we know where all the species are and the results made centrally available. This relies largely on the expertise and enthusiasm of the recording community. Further quantitative or semi-quantitative studies then provide us with additional information on where the largest, most viable populations occur and this is especially useful when developing plans for the conservation of rare or endangered species. The presence of suitable habitat on its own may not be sufficient for species persistence long term and close linkage (i.e. connectivity) to other high quality habitats is seen as increasingly important at a landscape scale in maintaining viable populations of many high profile species. Planning initiatives at local district, county and national levels have been implemented in an attempt to ameliorate the effects of habitat fragmentation and deterioration and several examples of these initiatives will be discussed during the conference. Counter-intuitively, motorways which normally exacerbate habitat fragmentation may act as corridors for selected groups of wildlife.
9:30 - 10:00 Arrival and coffee
10:00 Welcome and Introduction. Richard Moyse (Kent Field Club)
10:05 Wildlife and planning in Dover: the Green Infrastructure Approach. Nick Delaney (Dover District Council)
10:25Mapping Great Crested Newt metapopulations across Kent. Lee Brady (Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group)
10:45Linking marine intertidal communities. Ian Tittley (Natural History Museum, London)
11:05 - 11:30 Coffee and poster session
11:30 Chiropteran Countryside commuters. Frank Greenaway (formerly, Natural History Museum, London)
11:50 Landscape planning and Habitat networks in the Canterbury district. Richard Andrews (Jacobs UK plc)
12:10 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Kentish roadsides: botanical connectivity. Geoff Kitchener (Kent Field Club)
12:30Connectivity across a woodland landscape: lessons from the management of Blean Woods and the Heath Fritillary butterfly. Nick Bourn (Butterfly Conservation)
12:50 – 2:10 Lunch and poster session
2:10 Project and record requests. (All)
2:30 The role of ponds in maintaining freshwater habitats at the landscape scale. Jeremy Biggs (Pond Conservation)
2:50The role of Agri-environment schemes in restoring habitats and corridors. Dan Tuson (Natural England).
3:10Reconnecting wildlife in Kent. Sue Young (Kent Wildlife Trust)
3:30 - 3:45 Discussion
3:45Tea and Close
The cost for the day will be £14.00 per person including all light refreshments and a buffet lunch (vegetarian dishes included). Please contact John Badmin, Kent Field Club, Coppice Place, Perry Wood, Selling, nr Faversham, Kent ME13 9RP (firstname.lastname@example.org) for booking details and other information.
Unfortunately, Jo will not now be able to attend next Sunday's event at Riverside Country Park. Poor Jo has twisted her ankle and won't be able to lug all of the gear needed for the stand. Therefore, unless any other members of KRAG are willing and able to help, we will have to cancel the group's attendance at this year's event.
If you think that you can put a few hours aside next Sunday, please do get in touch.
In the meantime Jo, I hope your ankle gets better soon!!
KRAG will be setting up a stall at this year's Riverside Countryside Experience. Jo Richards will be on hand to chat with folks who would like to come along and perhaps share some recent records. There will also be plenty of other stalls and activities to keep everyone entertained. I only hope the weather is better than last year!
The event will be held on Sunday 12th July from 11 am to 5 pm.
For those of you with a satnav, the park address is:
Riverside Country Park, Lower Rainham Road, Gillingham, Kent, KE7 2XH
More detailed directions on how to find the country park are also available here.
Here is some additional information on the country park that was obtained from Medway Council's website (with a few of my photos to illustrate):
Riverside Country Park covers 100 hectares alongside the Medway Estuary, including Motney Hill and Berengrave Local Nature Reserve. There are various habitats within the park, including mudflats and salt marsh, ponds and reed-beds, grassland and scrub, which provide a haven for wildlife.
The estuary has special protection as part of the Medway Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is internationally important for wintering birds that thrive on the invertebrate-rich mudflats. The salt marshes have a specialised ecology and act as high tide roost sites.
Riverside has several ponds at Sharps Green and Berengrave. These are cleared of vegetation to maintain open water.
The reedbeds at Motney Hill are one of only 92 such sites which exceed two hectares in the UK. Management involves cutting a small area each year, which promotes dense growth and halts the natural progression of the reeds.
Grassland at Eastcourt Meadows and Rainham Dock East is mown in early autumn to encourage wildflowers and insects. Although the scrub is controlled, it forms an important part of this habitat, providing cover for small animals, nesting sites for birds and complete ecosystems for insects.
Of course, Riverside Country Park is also of great interest to KRAG for one or two other reasons...
I'm sure that you won't be surprised to learn that Riverside Country Park has been designated by KRAG as a Key Reptile Site for Kent. If you do see any lizards or snakes whilst visiting the park, please do remember to tell us about it!
As principal ecologist for Calumma Ecological Services, I am able to put my interest in reptiles and amphibians to good effect. Like most folks that work with wildlife, my activities extend beyond just 'the job' and I am also involved with several local conservation groups. Being the county recorder for reptiles and amphibians in Kent certainly helps me to fill in those spare moments when I'm not busy with the kids!
Calumma Ecological Services is a Kent based ecological consultancy that specialises in protected species surveys and habitat assessments.
Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group
For more information about Kent's reptiles and amphibians visit the Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group's website.
Submit a Record Have you seen a frog in your garden pond? Better yet an adder while out walking?! If you would like to let KRAG know about an amphibian or reptile observation, please complete the online recording card.
Recording Diary KRAG organises a full programme of events throughout the year. For more details about forthcoming attractions, visit the KRAG web site.
Old Blog Posts Still Available Archived posts in the old blog are still available - and will be for ever if I don't work out how to import them into this new site!
Amphibian and Reptile Group of South Lancashire
For more information about the reptiles and amphibians found in Lancashire, visit the ARGSL website.