NMARG was formed in 2005 and is a group of about 70 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, the Gems in the Dunes project 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 help to 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
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).
For our fourth habitat management weekend of the Winter, on the Birkdale dunes, we were joined by Mark Barber and Richard Pond from SWWARG, as well as John Gramauskas and four of his volunteers from Sefton's Ranger Service. A considerable amount of invasive Sycamore, Poplar, Willow and Birch trees were cut down, also Sea Buckthorn scrub. We were able to burn some of this and all the stumps were treated with herbicide, to, hopefully, prevent regrowth.
The aim of this work is to provide better habitat for Sand Lizards and Natterjacks, linking up remaining colonies. We are planning to follow this work up with the creation of patches of bare sand in the Spring.
For our third big habitat management weekend of the Winter, in part of the Birkdale and Ainsdale Sandhills local Nature Reserve, we were again joined by our friends from SWWARG, Pete Hill and Richard Pond, with their chainsaws, as well as some volunteers from Sefton's Coast and Countryside Ranger Service, with a total of 18 people attending for at least part of the weekend.
The work entailed the removal of some sizeable trees, especially alien Sycamores, which were shading parts of an area important for Sand Lizards, also the cutting down of a considerable amount of invasive Sea Buckthorn and other scrub. We managed to drag most of the brash into piles and then burn it in three separate fires (see photos above).
The roaring fires and almost continous sunshine helped to counteract the cold, brisk wind, and hopefully everyone found it much more enjoyable and rewarding than being stuck indoors!
Again many thanks to John Gramauskas, from the Sefton Ranger Service, for so efficiently organising the fires.
Mike Brown (chair)
Upcoming events will be listed here.