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 email@example.com
The croaking of male Natterjacks at dusk, sounding like the sound of scores of old tin cans being opened at once, can now be heard along many parts of our coastline. The exceptionally high water levels in the dune slacks, due to the previous wet Summer and Autumn, is attracting Natterjacks to breed in many areas which have been dry for some years and this impressive cacophany of noise should herald their best breeding season for a long time.
Following behind the males, the silent females are now starting to arrive at their breeding grounds, and the first strings of spawn are starting to appear. Natterjack spawn is produced in single strings, rather than the double strings of the earlier breeding Common Toads.
Fire at Formby
Posted on Sunday 21st April, 2013
A massive fire in the southern Formby dunes over Easter has destroyed the coastal dune vegetation along a stretch of at least a mile, encompassing some previously good sand lizard colonies. Although the majority of the lizards were probably still in their hibernation burrows, they are now emerging to a desolate landscape devoid of cover and food.
The Final Score
Posted on Tuesday 27th November, 2012
We finally recorded 102 hatchling sand lizards this year, between early September and the middle of November. This might seem a lot, but it was actually the result of some really intensive searching. Also, some hatchlings found in October appeared to be freshly emerged and being so small, we are concerned that they may not survive the Winter. We will just have to wait and see how many appear next Spring.
Better late than never
Posted on Monday 24th September, 2012
We've finally seen some hatchling sand lizards, although they're mostly about three weeks later than average in hatching. Up to 22nd September, we've recorded a total of 36 babies, including a few which appeared rather sickly. They were clustered in a few areas, which suggests hatching is still very patchy. Now that these hatchlings are up and about, they will need plenty of warm sunshine to allow them to feed and bulk up before going into hibernation for the Winter. Sadly, there's not much sign of that at present.
Natties up, Sandies down
Posted on Saturday 14th July, 2012
What started as such a promising season for our sand lizards has turned into little short of a disastrous one. The appalling weather in April, part of May, most of June and July so far has resulted in few observations, especially on the slightly more inland sites. We think that their breeding season will be badly affected, as the females, which have rarely been seen atall, depend on the heat of the sun for coming into breeding condition, developing their eggs inside them and also need a nice warm day for actually laying their eggs in the sand. On top of this, warm sunshine is important for actually heating up the sand to allow the eggs to successfully incubate. We havn't actually seen any females in the process of seeking out egg laying sites this year. Worryingly, what may have happened is that at least some of the females have actually reabsorbed their eggs, something that happened to four of Paul Hudson's captive breeding sandies this year. Nonetheless, its not all doom and gloom. We had a few sightings of sandies in an area of the coastal dunes where there were no previous records, at least not for a long time. Also, we've managed to see about half a dozen juveniles close to the 2011 release site. Conversely, the Natterjacks have enjoyed a good, if belated, breeding season, the best for quite a number of years, as the copious quantities of rain have filled up their breeding pools. The Natty toadlets have emerged on some sites, whilst the increasing depth of water at other pools has slowed up the tadpoles development, as the water temperatures have remained low. The occasional adult male can still be heard calling, even in the daytime!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.