Yardley Chase Training Area, Northamptonshire: a hidden gem

Yardley Chase Training Area, a military training area in Northamptonshire, is little known, but the secrecy and protection it benefits from as a consequence has resulted in an unique site. Jeff Blincow describes the history of Yardley Chase Training Area and the wonderful variety of habitats and wildlife found there. Northamptonshire rarely features in conversations

Beam Brook and its place in the history of British herpetology

Well known among herpetologists, Beam Brook Field Station has been home to numerous non-native reptiles and amphibians over recent decades. Peter Sutton provides an introduction to the site’s history, wildlife and scientific significance, and explains what is being done to preserve this special place. Beam Brook Field Station, near Newdigate, in Surrey, is known to

Natterjack Toads and landscape history: a window on the past

Natterjack Toads are rare in the British Isles, but they were previously far more widespread. By examining the changing fortunes of the Natterjack, it is possible to gain a fascinating insight into the ways in which our countryside has changed over the past few hundred years. Trevor Beebee explores the reasons behind the decline of

The Northern Pool Frog

This is a story of how a British species slipped through our hands just as we were discovering its importance. But it is also one of hope as the research and activity that this has engendered have been impressive. Until very close to the end of the 20th century, the Common Frog Rana temporaria was considered the

The Great Crested Newt: an ongoing conservation dilemma

Great Crested Newts declined substantially in Britain as a result of post-war agricultural intensification and were granted legal protection in 1981. Because they remain widespread, however, conflict between development and conservation has continued and an effective strategy for securing the long-term future of this species remains elusive.  It was one of those unforgettable childhood days.

Comment: New clean-water ponds – A way to protect freshwater biodiversity

Clean water is now a rare habitat across much of Britain. In England it is almost extinct. This is important, because 80% of our most threatened freshwater plants and animals rely on clean water. And anyone who has dipped much in streams, ponds or lakes will know the vast difference between the weary monotony of

The changing status of amphibians within Eppping Forest

The British Isles supports seven native species of amphibian. Of these, as a result of their restricted distributions, the Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus and Natterjack Toad Epidalea (Bufo) calamita are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the European Habitats Directive 1992. 

Water frogs in Britain

In the last two decades, there has been a vast increase in reports of non-native frog species occurring in Britain, particularly in the south-east regions of England. The aims of this article are to discuss the identification, origins, distribution, habitat choice and ecology of the introduced species of water frog. 

The status, conservation and use of the Medicinal Leech

Leeches have a bad reputation. One of the definitions of a leech is 'a person who clings to or preys on another person'. Despite this, one species, the Medicinal Leech Hirudo medicinalis, can boast a longer, more useful and definitely more intimate relationship with people than can most other animals.

Crested Newts – Ancient Survivors

The United Kingdom has few amphibians. There are just five well-known native species, with two or three more that have been brought into the century and released into the wild in recent times. This contrasts with the situation in France, for example, where there are at least 30 different kinds of frogs, toads, newts, and

Comment: The Pool Frog – a neglected native?

The history of the Pool Frog, Rana lessonae, in this country is curious. There is no conclusive proof to say that it is not a native. Furthermore, it was originally misnamed Edible Frog, R. esculenta, as it was not realised at the time that the Pool Frog was a separate species. Both frogs belong to a genetically

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