On 3rd and 4th February the 2018 Herpetofauna Workers Meeting, jointly organised by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and Amphibian and Reptile Groups of UK, was held at The Hilton Hotel in Northampton and once again, proved to be a lively and informative event. The centre point of our annual calendar, it offers practitioners from across our sector an opportunity to keep up-to-date with the latest news and research findings for amphibians and reptiles. It is also a chance to meet up with friends and colleagues from across the UK and Europe.

Highlights from 2018 included: Alice Pawlick’s (DRAG) presentation on palmate newts on Dartmoor, Emma Gardner and John Baker on 10 years of Make the Adder Count (ARG UK); we heard from John Dickson (RAGS) on the fantastic progress the Somerset group are making with their restoration of traditional cobbled ponds for the Mendip Ponds Project, Chris Reading (CEH) on how reptiles use coniferous plantations through the growth cycle, Rick Hodges (KRAG) on the findings from a long term refugia-based adder study in Kent, Andy Buxton (DICE) on understanding the answers provided by eDNA technology, Carlos Abrahams (Baker Consultants) on long term amphibian monitoring on the Pas de Calais, Karen Haysom (ARC) on ARC’s monitoring programmes and Becky Lawson (IoZ) on a newly described pathogen ‘Snake Fungal Disease’.

We were also up-dated about some major new landscape scale projects, with Jim Foster (ARC) introducing ‘Back from the Brink’, Jeremy Biggs (FHT) the South Midlands Great Crested Newt Licensing project, and Jake Chant (DWT) on ‘rewilding’, following the beaver reintroductions to the River Otter. Our big thanks to Steve Allain (CPARG), for stepping in at the 11th hour to tell us about midwife toad monitoring in Cambridge, and we finished up with two barnstorming talks from Pete Minting (ARC) on Scottish GCN Detectives and Brian Laney (NARG).

As a part of his presentation Pete read out an original poem, ‘The Common Frog,’ that was submitted by Aiden Phommavanh of Monymusk Primary School, Inverurie for the Scottish schools art and writing competition. This elicited a great response, and everyone enjoyed it, so we have included it below. Brian rounded up the meeting with his lively and unforgettable experiences of conserving amphibians and reptiles in Northamptonshire, encompassing: adders in hedgerows and roadside verges, amphibians using polystyrene floats to survive gully pots, HM constabulary assisting with toad rescues, and the importance of managing gardens for wildlife.

There were also some great workshop sessions and we would like to thank Pete Charleston from the Bat Conservation Trust and Susannah O’ Riordan from Butterfly Conservation for their help with workshops on topics as diverse as: wildlife crime, conserving adders in Rockingham Forest, best practice for sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS), assessing habitat for natterjacks, and top tips for how to run a successful ARG.

We would like to thank all the presenters, chairs and workshop leaders for their fantastic inputs, and all of those who worked behind the scenes to ensure that this was, once again, a hugely successful meeting.


The Common Frog

by Aiden Phommavanh, Monymusk Primary School, Inverurie

One day a frog named Bob wanted to jump to the moon. Sounds like a strange thing to want to do but all his family had done it. He wondered how they had managed to do it but they never told him. Bob was a common frog (which is one of five thousand species of frog!).

Bob lived with his family in a pond. One of the reasons he wanted to go to the moon was because his family had made him stay in the pond for his whole life. His older brothers and sisters teased him for being the only one in the family that hadn't been to the moon, which made Bob very upset. But he believed that he could go to the moon one day because Bob remembered what his grandpa had said to him (before he got crushed by a car). He said "follow your dreams and never give up!"

Original prose submitted as part of an art and writing competition for children aged 8-18 in Scotland, launched as part of the Scottish GCN Detectives project, and will be included in the forthcoming publication "Amazing animals, brilliant science!"

Thank you to our 2018 sponsors: