Wirral ARG (WiARG)
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About us

About Us

Aim

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.

Background

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 current chair of WiARG, 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.

Activities

Since its formation in 2019, WiARG has undertaken numerous surveys and practical conservation tasks across the Wirral. Some of the highlights have been mapping out the extent of Common Lizard in Harrison Park, Wallasey, as well as lizards and amphibians across the North Wirral Coastal Park, updating the known status of amphibians (including Great Crested Newt) at Royden Park and more recently measuring the use of the tidal zone of amphibians in the north west Wirral coast. 

The itinerary for 2021-22 is presently being drawn up as winter draws in following a busy survey season. Suggestions from members are welcomed.

Existing partnerships include the Wirral Ranger Service, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the Friends of the North Wirral Coastal Park and Wirral Wildlife. 

Committee

The present committee consists of: Thomas Doherty-Bone (chair); Sue Noyce (secretary); Jon Bielby (vice chair); Frankie Bielby (treasurer); Charles Mulryan (general committee); Mike Brown (senior adviser).

Membership

The membership fee for 2020-21 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: https://paypal.me/WiARG?locale.x=en_GB

Membership cycle finishes each April.

 Please get in contact if you wish to get involved. 

News

News

WiARG AGM 25/5/21

Posted on Monday 17th January, 2022

Minutes for Wirral ARG AGM    Date 25/05/2021

 

Venue: On Zoom

Committee: Thomas Doherty-Bone (chair), Jon Bielby (secretary), Frances Bielby (treasurer), Mike Brown (mentor)

Other attendees: Sue Noyce, Charles Mulryan

Apologies: none

TDB gave a presentation on the progress and achievement of the Wirral ARG (WiARG) since its launch in March 2019, with plans for 2021-22 laid out. So far there are 18 members. The accounts were presented. The meeting was then opened to the rest of the attendees.

Matters Arising

  • New committee members were appointed and voted in: Sue Noyce as secretary; Charles Mulryan as general committee member.
  • Both Jon & Frankie Bielby have another child on the way, but rather than step down, Jon has agreed to move to the role of vice president. Frankie is happy to stay on as treasurer in name with TDB to keep handling accounts for the time being, with oversight provided as required on a case by case matter.

- End-


Spawn Reporting 2022

Posted on Monday 17th January, 2022

Subscriptions

Posted on Monday 17th January, 2022

Subscriptions of £5 for 2022 can be paid before April  either via PayPal  https://paypal.me/WiARG?locale.x=en_GB or in person at a meet


On-line Wildlife Exchange Session

Posted on Wednesday 5th January, 2022

Dr Tom Doherty-Bone's talk on the setting up of WiARG

July 21

https://youtu.be/sq0RvXjtn4Q


Climate breakdown versus the amphibians & reptiles of the Wirral

Posted on Friday 5th November, 2021

As the discussion of climate change and resulting climate breakdown is at the forefront of news at the moment, we highlight how these issues touch the Wirral’s amphibians and reptiles (collectively referred to as “herps”), often in unexpected and counterintuitive ways. Many of us living in the Wirral already notice how our winters have been less snowy the past decade compared to previous. But how is this affecting our herpetofauna on the Wirral, who are sensitive to changes in temperature and have to hibernate through the winter? Some of us have been surprised by seeing frogs moving about on Christmas Day. Do these mid-winter emergences result in their death when wandering around in a daze with nothing to eat and does resumption of cold kill them off? How about changes to rainfall? Or rising temperature?

At the Wirral Amphibian & Reptile Group (WiARG) we are doing our bit to see how our local herps are faring in response to a changing climate. Our basic effort is to monitor and take action to build resilience where we can. Some volunteers are monitoring various sites for the initiation of breeding by various amphibians, especially by WiARG secretary Sue Noyce of Common Frogs at Central Park in Wallasey. We have also been checking for earliest emergences for Spring and latest occurrence for autumn in Common Lizard at Harrison Park Wallasey. This year, we still found lizards active mid-October. And there has been our study on how amphibians use coastal habitat down to the strandline at Hoylake-West Kirby, which has implications for inferring changes to sea-level.

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Sometimes it may be necessary to highlight the need to divert seemingly positive climate action where it will do more harm than good, such as planting of trees in habitat that will actually cause declines of herps. Tree planting to restore lost woodland and reconnect others is great, but planting in habitats like established grasslands, sand dunes, peatland and heathland does shade out the sunny spots herps and other organisms need to live - thankfully the Wirral Tree Strategy does take this into account. As one example, in one park where we found an important Common Lizard population, the rangers diverted tree planting efforts to another site so they would not loose their grassland habitat.

The most salient example of how climate change (more realistic rephrase: climate breakdown) is impacting amphibians on the Wirral is at Royden Park near Frankby. We found the Great Crested Newt still occur here, but the single pond we found them breeding was found to dry out before larvae could metamorphose in both years surveyed. We are hoping for a 2022 Spring and Summer that is wet enough and mild enough for the water to stay long enough for the babies to grow, but it doesn’t look good. At the start of this project in 2019 it was already clear that the network of ponds in Royden were far from adequate to support a resilient population. It is likely the loss in the past century of big animals such as deer, beavers, livestock that would have kept the ponds open and resilient has caused them to shrink in size and suitability for pond life. WiARG has been working with the Wirral Council rangers to manage these ponds, trimming branches and small trees from the edge of the ponds and removing debris to reduce anaerobic digestion which reduces oxygen levels. Doing this actually helps stop these ponds releasing greenhouse gases and helps them sequester more carbon. After the initial works by volunteers from WiARG with those at Royden Park, it was realised a more dedicated, drastic action was needed, especially as volunteer time in the winter of 2020-21 was lost to covid-19 lockdowns. So the Volunteer Rangers of Royden Park led a grant bid with WiARG to get contractors to drastically thin out trees and line one pond adjacent to another where crested newts had been seen but not yet breeding. The grant bid with the Burbo Bank Community Fund was successful and we are waiting for works to commence. This should produce a pond that is more resistant to drying out during droughts.

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With the negotiations at COP26 in Glasgow in progress, changes to the climate are with us already and we need to be vigilant to how these changes will impact our wildlife. As efforts continue to reduce emissions and capture carbon, WiARG will be proactively working to understand how these changes are affecting our newts, frogs, toads, lizards (and snakes if any show up) and do what we can to mitigate the negative impacts for a resilient and healthy community across the Wirral.


Events

Events

Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Reptile Survey Harrison Park, Wallasey

Thu 1st January, 1970

Checking the artificial refugia for reptiles. This is a site that is heavily used by dog walkers, yet last year it was found to be one of the best sites in Wallasey for Common Lizards. Interestingly (but worryingly) half the site burned last summer, providing an opportunity to assess if summer fires are having an impact. 

Surveys have been expanded to other sections of the park where more footfall of dogwalkers takes place. Survey is estimated to take one hour, with potential for further surveys in the adjacent Red Noses. 

Meeting at 10 a.m. at car park off Harrison Drive, Wallasey, CH45 3HL.

This event is weather permitting, therefore it is recommended to notify the organizers (tommy_dbone@yahoo.com) so any notifications with regard to the weather can be made. 

 


Introductory Meeting and pond visit, Bebington

Thu 18th April, 2019

Introductory Meeting – All Welcome!

Date & time: Thursday 18th April 2019, 7.30-9.30 p.m.

Venue: Windsor Close Community Centre, Windsor Close, Bebington, Wirral, CH62 5BZ.

Train station: Bebington. Parking: Woodhead Street Car Park.

The newly formed 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 present knowledge of amphibians and reptiles on the Wirral, with proposals for activities for 2019 and Q&A.

Talk will be followed by a visit to ponds at the nearby New Ferry Butterfly Park where Smooth Newts are found. 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.

 

 


Reptile Survey Harrison Park

Fri 26th April, 2019

Meeting at the car park off Harrison Drive at 10 a.m.. 

 
 
 

Harrison Park, Harrison Dr, Wallasey CH45 3HL

We will be checking artificial refugia laid down to monitor the Common Lizard population in this local park. Last year there seemed to be lizards under every mat, so hopeful it will be the same this year. If there is time, I will also go through the Red Noses to check on refugia there. Weather is supposed to be sun with light rain showers, so fingers crossed the mats will be warmed up enough for the lizards to use them.


North Wirral Coastal Park - Herps et al, City Nature Challenge

Mon 29th April, 2019

  • Meeting 10 a.m. sea front carpark at the Gunsite, North Wirral Coastal Park, Wallasey, CH45 8LW

 

There will be a reptile and amphibian survey of the Gunsite section of the North Wirral Coastal Park as part of the City Nature Challenge 2019 (see attached flyer). This is in partnership with the Friends of the North Wirral Coastal Park. This provides opportunities to see species in sand dunes, grassland, woodland, reedbeds and ponds.

The aim of the City Nature Challenge is to record as many species as possible in the Liverpool City Region using the iNaturalist app (we will be doing similar on Friday at Harrison Park). Meeting at the sea front carpark (I will be cycling as usual), we will start at 10 a.m. checking refugia for reptiles, walking through the dunes and recording other biodiversity plants, insects, etc as we go. More eyes the better! 

We will then check the off show ponds for amphibians. If there is time or energy, we will continue through the woodland-grassland to Leasowe Lighthouse to check the larger pond, even waiting till dark to see which amphibians are active, as well as other taxonomic groups. We would thus welcome more pairs of eyes and specialities for this.

 

Schedule:
 
10:00 AM - 10:10 AM Meet at Gunsite sea-front carpark
 
 
10:10 AM - 12:00 PM 
Survey around terrestrial habitats at Gunsite
 
 
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 
Inspect ponds at Gunsite
 
 
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM 
Walk to Leasowe Common, recording on the way
 
 
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 
Break for late lunch if not already seen.
 
 
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM 
Recording around pond at Leasowe Lighthouse
 
 
4:00 PM End of day time surveys, break off
 
 
8:45 PM - 10:00 PM 
Night time survey of pond by Leasowe Lighthouse

Amphibian survey Central Park Wallasey

Thu 2nd May, 2019 - Fri 3rd May, 2019

Meet 5 p.m. at the car park at Central Park Liscard, Wallasey (in case you thought it was New York!).

We will be setting up bottle traps in the two ponds fenced off at the park. This will be followed by a little litter pick around the ponds as they are in a bit of a state, aiming to finish 7 p.m.. We will then wait for dark at a local pub (TBC, but probably the Lazy Landlord, drinking/eating responsibly). We will then head back out and do a torch light survey c. 9 p.m. for newts, finishing about 10 p.m. 

The following morning we will check the newt traps at 9 a.m. 

What to bring:

- litter grabber if you have one
- gardening gloves or something similar for litter picking
- sturdy foot wear
- torch, ideally a head torch
- clothing to accommodate cold spells.It is expected to see lots of tadpoles, possibly frogs and toad, but last year we had new records for Smooth Newt and would like to see if the bottle traps could give us an idea on the relative abundance. In the morning we may even see the terrapin.


Reptile Survey Harrison Park Wallasey

Thu 16th May, 2019

Checking the artificial refugia for reptiles. This is a site that is heavily used by dog walkers, yet last year it was found to be one of the best sites in Wallasey for Common Lizards. Interestingly (but worryingly) half the site burned last summer, providing an opportunity to assess if summer fires are having an impact. 

Surveys have been expanded to other sections of the park where more footfall of dogwalkers takes place. Survey is estimated to take one hour, with potential for further surveys in the adjacent Red Noses. 

Meeting at 10 a.m. at car park off Harrison Drive, Wallasey, CH45 3HL.

This event is weather permitting, therefore it is recommended to notify the organizers (tommy_dbone@yahoo.com) so notifications can be sent out in case of cancellation. 


Amphibian Torch Survey Bidston Moss

Sat 18th May, 2019

We will be doing a torch survey for newts in Bidston Moss and Pride Park.

Meet at carpark by B&Q 9.15 p.m. aiming to finish by 10.30 p.m.

Bring a torch.


Reptile Survey Bidston Moss - CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER

Sun 19th May, 2019

EVENT CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER. Cloud is letting no sun through, so refugia won't be warming up. Will reschedule soon.

 

Meet at B&Q carpark 10 a.m.

Common Lizard have been observed at sections of this former landfill site and railway. Will be checking under refugia to see if Slow Worms might be present too.

 

 


Reptile Survey Harrison Park Wallasey

Thu 23rd May, 2019

Checking the artificial refugia for reptiles. This is a site that is heavily used by dog walkers, yet last year it was found to be one of the best sites in Wallasey for Common Lizards. Interestingly (but worryingly) half the site burned last summer, providing an opportunity to assess if summer fires are having an impact. 

Surveys have been expanded to other sections of the park where more footfall of dogwalkers takes place. Survey is estimated to take one hour, with potential for further surveys in the adjacent Red Noses. 

Meeting at 10 a.m. at car park off Harrison Drive, Wallasey, CH45 3HL.

This event is weather permitting, therefore it is recommended to notify the organizers (tommy_dbone@yahoo.com) so notifications can be sent out in case of cancellation. 


Reptile Survey Harrison Park Wallasey

Fri 31st May, 2019

Checking the artificial refugia for reptiles. This is a site that is heavily used by dog walkers, yet last year it was found to be one of the best sites in Wallasey for Common Lizards. Interestingly (but worryingly) half the site burned last summer, providing an opportunity to assess if summer fires are having an impact. 

Surveys have been expanded to other sections of the park where more footfall of dogwalkers takes place. Survey is estimated to take one hour, with potential for further surveys in the adjacent Red Noses. 

Meeting at 10 a.m. at car park off Harrison Drive, Wallasey, CH45 3HL.

This event is weather permitting, therefore it is recommended to notify the organizers (tommy_dbone@yahoo.com) so notifications can be sent out in case of cancellation. 


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Committee Members

Committee 2021-22

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