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
On Sunday, December 17th, despite the incessant rain and drizzle, a amll group of NMARG members cleared a further area of Sea Buckthorn, in a dune slack and south-west facing slope adjacent to the area cleared on 26th November, on the edge of the grazing enclosure on the Ainsdale LNR. It is hoped that this will encourage Sand Lizards to spread landwards from the more frontal dunes.
On a bright, but very blustery day, we managed to clear Sea Buckthorn from a 100 metre stretch of south-east facing sand dune ridge at Ainsdale, making the habitat more suitable for Sand Lizards and Natterjacks.
Our two rare species of herps, the Natterjack and Sand Lizard on the Sefton Coast are always at the mercy of the elements when it comes to breeding success and every year throws up different conditions.
This year, because of the preceding dry Winter, many of the dune slack pools and 'scrapes' were already dry when the Natterjacks arrived to bred in them in the Spring, and others dried up soon after. In consequence, although final figures are not yet available, counts of successfully metamorphosed Natterjack toadlets in the summer were very low this year, with many sites producing none. This is not, however, a total catastrophe, as the Natterjack is a relatively long-lived animal, and experts consider that if one year in four is a good Natterjack breeding year, then the population will remain stable.
Sand Lizards lay their eggs in the sand and are then dependant on warmth and sunshine to hatch them.This year has seen a rather mixed bag of weather during the Summer and only a few hatchlings have been sighted so far. Hopefully, hopefully we will get some warm, sunny weather in September and October, to enable more successful hatching and to enable those hatchlings to feed up well before entering hibernation. In contrast to the Natterjack, Sand Lizard populations cannot be sustained unless there are frequent years of successful breeding.
A dozen people from NMARG and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Biodiverse Society Project attended the latest reptile and amphibian survey training day at Ainsdale on Saturday, May 6th, which included walks out into the dunes for a couple of practical sessions. Unfortunately, due to the dull, cold weather, we were unable to find any lizards, but we did manage to find and compare eggs of Great Crested Newts and Smooth Newts, as well as adults and juveniles of both species. We also found fresh spawn strings and tadpoles of Natterjack Toads and, after dark, a few adult Natterjacks in the 'scrapes' , although it was too cold and dry for any males to be calling.
A very wet morning for our latest scrub clearance task, but the weather cleared up a bit later, and at least it wasn't spiky stuff this time, just Poplar suckers and Sycamore we removed from a fixed dune site with an important, but declining, Sand Lizard population.
Our first habitat management task of the New Year will be on Sunday, January 7th. This will be another session of scrub and tree removal on an area of vital importance for Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads on the Sefton Coast. This task will be held jointly with Friends of the Sefton Coast volunteers and meeting at 10am at the Ainsdale Discovery Centre. For further details, please email Mike Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org
Further habitat management tasks will be held on the following dates:
Sunday, January 21st
Sunday, January 28th
Sunday, February 18th
sunday, March 11th
NMARG's next volunteer scrub clearance day on the Sefton Coast is on Sunday, December 17th. For more details, please contact Mike Brown on email@example.com
NMARG's first volunteer habitat management task of the current Winter will be on Sunday, November 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.
NMARG is organising a lizard monitoring morning on the Sefton Coast on Sunday, September 10th., when we will be looking particularly for hatchling sand lizards and juvenile common lizards, born this year. This is a good measure of breeding success in what has been quite a mixed Summer for weather. Anyone interested in joining us, please email Mike Brown on email@example.com
This event will only take place in suitable weather conditions, as lizards don't like wet and windy weather!
Our next habitat management task is on Sunday, 28th May, when we will be renovating sand patches at Ainsdale for Merseyside Sand Lizards to lay their eggs in. Anyone interested in joining us, please contact Mike Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
NMARG are running another reptile and amphibian survey training event in conjunction with the Lancahire Wildlife Trust Biodiverse Society Project on Saturday, May 5th, in the afternoon and evening, at Ainsdale. This year, we are combining the reptile and amphibian training into one event, which will include a classroom session (at Ainsdale Discovery Centre) and a search of the surrounding area for amphibians and reptiles (weather permitting). Times are not finalised yet, but anyone interested in attending, please contact Mike Brown on email@example.com
The event will probably culminate in a Natterjack walk at dusk, again weather permitting.
NMARG's next habitat management task is on Sunday, March 5th, again on the Sefton Coast. Although the exact venue is yet to be decided, we will be probably be clearing relatively small and less spiky scrub regrowth and suckers this time, from important Sand Lizard areas which are being overtaken by invasive growth of poplar, etc. Anyone interested in joining us, please contact Mike on firstname.lastname@example.org
NMARG's next habitat management task on the Sefton Coast is on Sunday, 19th February. The task will involve the clearance of invasive scrub, especially Sea Buckthorn, on the Ainsdale sand dunes LNR. For further details, please contact Mike Brown, on email@example.com
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) and Amphibian and Reptile Groups of UK (ARG UK), are delighted to be able to announce the 2017 Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting, which is to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in central Nottingham on 11-12 February 2017.
Running annually for over 27 years, this popular two-day event occupies the centre stage of the herpetological calendar. Once again, a full and varied programme of presentations and workshops is on offer, with plenty of opportunities to network with the speakers and other delegates. The meeting attracts a diverse audience representing: conservation organisations, ecological consultants, statutory bodies, land managers, academic institutions and students, and enthusiastic volunteers.
In 2017, the meeting will cover a range of topics including: the importance of the new chytrid species, B.sal, for our native amphibians; showcasing a range of novel approaches to reptile mitigation; restoring overgrown farmland ponds; updates from the national statutory agencies; conservation priorities for Adders; using SUDS to help toads; the RAVON approach to monitoring for widespread species in the Netherlands; integrated approaches to Great Crested Newt monitoring, including the use of genetic techniques to understand population dynamics; Aesculapian Snakes; and some interesting examples of how citizen science can support amphibian and reptile conservation, from Cornwall and Scotland.
There is also a strong workshop programme, and topics will include: eDNA surveys for Great Crested Newts; developing a new national widespread species recording scheme; practical tips for restoring overgrown ponds; EPS licensing updates; and developing guidelines for guided public reptile walks. Something for everyone!
BOOKINGS ARE NOW OPEN - Please go to the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation website to book your place and select your workshops. There is a reduction in price for ARG members.
This will be our third habitat management task of the Winter on the Sefton Coast, when we will again be helping to control invasive scrub (especially Sea Buckthorn) and trees, which are shading out the open habitats needed by the very rare Merseyside Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads. For further details, please contact Mike Brown, on firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Brown (chair)