NMARG was formed in 2005 and is a group of about 60 members who are mostly involved with the conservation and monitoring of the reptiles and amphibians found in the area, especially the rarest two species, the Merseyside Race Sand Lizard and the Natterjack Toad.
During the Winter months, we undertake habitat management work, in partnership with other ARG groups and the Sefton Council Coast and Countryside Ranger Service. This vital work involves the clearance of unwanted scrub and trees, especially Sea Buckthorn, a highly invasive alien shrub on the Sefton Coast, which would otherwise shade out the precious Sand Lizard and Natterjack habitat. In the Spring, NMARG members also help to create and maintain the patches of bare sand essential for Sand Lizard egg laying.
During the Spring and Summer months we spend a large amount of time recording and monitoring the local reptile and amphibian species, especially the rarer species. NMARG's EPS licensed members also provide training in reptile and amphibian surveying.
Anyone wishing to get involved, seeking advice or supplying records are very welcome. Please contact Mike Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
The third part of the amphibian and reptile survey training, a joint venture between the Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Biodiverse Society Project and NMARG, took place on Saturday, April 30th, with two sessions, one in the morning near Liverpool and the other in the evening in the Sefton Coast Dunes.
During the first session we placed some refugia in locations which looked good for reptiles and also investigated a suitable looking pond for amphibians. Back on the Sefton Coast in the evening, we netted some pools in the dune slacks for newts and found a Natterjack Toad under an item of refugia. However, the best was reserved for a later torchlight survey, when we were surrounded by the resonant calls of the Natterjacks, finding several individuals and also an amazing number of Great Crested Newts, literally under our feet, as well as Smooth Newts and Common Toads.
NMARG and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Biodiverse Society Project jointly organised a training day for their members and volunteer surveyors of the local herpetofauna on April 3rd. This included a practical session out in the Sefton dunes, when we managed to find a very early pair of breeding Natterjacks (see picture above), as well as several Great Crested Newts, Smooth Newts and Common Lizards.
This training is to be continued on April 16th, when we have another classroom session, followed by another session in the field, looking for lizards.
NMARG is arranging a series of volunteer habitat management tasks during the Winter of 2015-16 on the Sefton Coast sand dunes. The aim of these tasks will be to improve the habitat for Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads by clearing invasive scrub and trees, which will otherwise shade out basking areas for the lizards and invade the very short vegetation required by hunting Natterjacks. This scrub and tree control will also benefit many other rare wildlife and plants on the Sefton Coast.
The biggest problem is the Sea Buckthorn, a very spiky shrub which is not part of the native flora of the Sefton Coast, but has established itself quite widely across the more fixed dunes and can spread very rapidly, if not controlled and, ideally, eradicated. Although ARG volunteers, together with the Sefton Coast Ranger Service and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, have tackled some quite extensive areas of Sea Buckthorn and other scrub and trees on the Sefton Coast during the past few Winters, there is always some regrowth, suckers and new seedlings to contend with. The aim of many of the tasks this Winter will be to return to the areas which have been cleared previously and remove all the regrowth. Its rather like gardening on a larger scale really - always a lot of unwanted vegetation growth which needs regular visits to try and keep under control.
For the first task, on Sunday, December 20th, we tackled patches of Sea Buckthorn growing close to the recently excavated Natterjack pools, attempting to remove the regrowth there before it becomes too prolific again. Subsequent tasks will take place at regular intervals at various locations on the Sefton Coast during the remainder of the Winter (see 'Events' section for details).
NMARG's first volunteer habitat management weekend of the current Winter will be on November 25 - 26, on the Sefton Coast, when we will be tackling an area of Sea Buckthorn scrub which is invading valuable Sand Lizard and Natterjack habitat at Ainsdale. The work will involve cutting down, dragging off and burning this highly invasive spiky shrub and is vitally important for the continued survival of the Merseyside Race Sand Lizard and the maintenance of suitable terrestrial habitat for Natterjacks. This task will be undertaken in conjunction with ARC's Gems in the Dunes project and the Sefton Council Ranger Service. Anyone interested in helping out, please contact Mike Brown by email at email@example.com for further details.
Mike Brown (chair)