The aim of this group is to understand and protect the amphibians and reptiles of the Wirral peninsular through organizing training, raising awareness, surveys, habitat management tasks and other conservation activities.
The Wirral Peninsular has historically been habitat of Sand Lizard, Natterjack, Great Crested Newt, Common Frog, Common Toad, Smooth Newt, Palmate Newt, Common Lizard, Slow Worm and Grass Snake. However, developments in the 20th Century has seen species such as the Sand Lizard and Natterjack disappear. Status of other herps have been uncertain, the problem being linked to lack of survey effort and recording.
In 2018, preliminary surveys around Wallasey revealed many new and surprising records for amphibians and reptiles. This was part of the Cheshire & Wirral ARG. However, the size of this district with that county was a bit much, necessitating the formation of a new ARG for Wirral (WiARG) so more surveys and recording can be co-ordinated across this interesting penninsular.
Founding member and acting chair of WiARG, Tom Doherty-Bone, grew up on the Wirral and was frustrated by the lost herpetofauna species and limited opportunities to view the remaining herps in the area. Formation of this new ARG will create the opportunity for local residents in the Wirral to get involved with amphibian and reptile surveys and recording for both enjoyment of these wonderful animals and to aid in their conservation on the Wirral.
The itinerary for 2019 is presently being drawn up, confirmed activities including reptile surveys of the north Wirral coast and amphibian surverys and litter picking at ponds at Central Park Wallasey. Pond creation and monitoring is being planned for a local pocket park in New Brighton for 2019 into 2020. We are going to be involved with the Turtle Tally citizen science project. The possibility for visiting Natterjack sites, and other activities are also being looked into. Suggestions from members are welcomed.
Existing partnerships include the Wirral Ranger Service, the Friends of the North Wirral Coastal Park and Wirral Wildlife.
The present committee consists of: Thomas Doherty-Bone (chair); Jon Bielby (secretary); Frankie Bielby (treasurer); Mike Brown (senior adviser).
The membership fee for 2019-20 is £5, which goes toward conservation activities of the group, such as buying equipment. Payment can either be made in cash or paid through Paypal: paypal.me/WiARG
Membership cycle finishes each April.
Please get in contact if you wish to get involved.
Last Thursday, Tom, Frankie and James got out to Harrison Park and the weather being bright, we got plenty of Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara), including numerous males with signs of injury that might be masculine combat, but maybe also from predation by corvids. Artificial refugia has now been put out around the area that was burned last year, and the hill where most dog walkers go, no lizards seen yet but there have been incidental reports. Will be an interesting case study.
Today some of us went out to Harrison Park to check under refugia for what was found to be a thriving Common Lizard population last year. We were joined by Vicky Handby from Year of the Environment as we helped to contribute to the City Nature Challenge using the iNaturalist app, attempting to help the Liverpool City Region to compete against the likes of Los Angeles and darkest Manchester.
Unfortunately the weather turned very quickly before we arrived, notably a strong cold wind that dramatically cooled the artificial refugia. We still saw some cool remnant sand dune plants and invertebrates, the site being formerly sand dunes but now rough grassland.
The weather forecast for this Monday's surveys in the North Wirral Coastal Park are looking better, so there will be better chances of meeting lizards, also amphibians. That will be the last day of the City Nature Challenge.
Last Thursday the 18th, the first official meeting of WiARG took place at the WIndsor Close Community Hall in Bebington. This was a general introduction to the amphibians and reptiles of the UK, and their past and present distribution on the Wirral. This was followed by an excursion to the New Ferry Butterfly Park under nightfall, where we were treated to shed loads of Smooth Newts, including many males courting females. A great night. DSCF1656.JPG
The website is live on the ARG website, Twitter and FB pages are starting up, and now its a case of watching this space as the committee put their heads together and create an itinerary of events.
Sunday 23rd February
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Natterjacks will start breeding as early as March, but they have quite specific conditions, such as near vegetation-free ponds, to have a productive breeding season to recruit the next generation.
We’ll be with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust rangers in the natterjack pools pulling and raking the growing reeds. Although the perimeter of the pond will be scraped by machines, the centre of the pools would become too deep for the toads therefore we’ll be doing the rest by hand.
Please bring your own lunch and wellingtons. If you have waders then please bring them as well as we have limited numbers. Make sure you have CHECKED-CLEANED-DRIED your wellies and waders before bringing them on site. Bring water proofs and warm clothing. Biscuits will be brought.
Meet at the slipway to the beach at the end of Stanley Road, CH47 1HZ. (turning off the Hoylake roundabout before heading into West Kirby from the east, or from Hoylake train station).
Hope to see you there.
Cleaver Heath Nature Reserve
Meet on Oldfield Road outside the reserve entrance sign, CH60 6SG.
Sunday 1st March
We have teamed up with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust to help out with obtaining a baseline on the reptiles at Cleaver Heath Nature Reserve to see what is present and what is responding to the habitat management taking place.
We’ll be cutting the refugia from roofing felt, numbering and placing them around the site ready to start surveying throughout the year. This can be heavy going work, so hopefully plenty of us will spread the effort. We’ll also get cutting and raking off bracken in a few areas around the site, which will ultimately increase the light getting to ground level and more basking levels.
Please bring your own lunch, sturdy boots and warm clothes.
This is not really a public transport-friendly locality, so if you want to work out a carpool, contact us (email@example.com).
Date & time: Friday 27th March 2020, 6.30-9.30 p.m.
Venue: Windsor Close Community Centre, Windsor Close, Bebington, Wirral, CH62 5BZ.
Train station: Bebington. Parking: Woodhead Street Car Park.
One year on, the Wirral Amphibian & Reptile Group (ARG) aims to understand and protect the amphibians and reptiles of the Wirral peninsular through organizing training, raising awareness, surveys, habitat management tasks and other conservation activities. This is a volunteer-run initiative of the ARG UK.
The meeting will include a talk on the work of WiARG through 2019-20, with plans for the rest of the year, Q&A and the committee will be elected for 2020-21. This is an opportunity for people to get involved with organizing the ARG.
Talk will be followed by a visit to ponds at the nearby New Ferry Butterfly Park where Smooth Newts are known to put on a good show. Bring a torch and suitable footwear.
Biosecurity: to prevent spreading amphibian disease, footwear should be Checked-Cleaned-Dried. If you keep pet amphibians, please wear clean clothes from last handling.