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
Hatchling Sand Lizards have been spotted on the Merseyside sand dunes since mid-August, but few so far in the more fixed dunes. They've also been seen in our re-introduction site this week, proof of successful breeding for the first time.
Today (Saturday, September 6th), several members of our group helped with the release of captive bred Sand Lizards in North-East Wales, the second of three planned releases at that site.
Sand Lizards find the Sand Patches
Posted on Friday 11th July, 2014
Following on from the previous News Story, we were delighted to discover some of our recently dug sand patches were quickly occupied by gravid female Sand Lizards which hadn't previously been recorded. We just hope they found the new sand patches to their liking and laid their eggs in them, but we won't really know until the hatchlings appear late in the Summer.
Sand Patch Creation
Posted on Wednesday 28th May, 2014
The last six weeks have been a period of frenetic sand patch digging on the fixed dune and golf course Sand Lizard sites (or former Sand Lizard sites) on the Sefton Coast. Ably assisted by ARG volunteers from as far away as South Wales, Cumbria and Yorkshire, we have created 35 new sand patches on one golf course bank, and a total of over a hundred new and renovated sand patches on Sefton Council owned fixed dune sites. This has involved an estimated total of over 150 man-hours so far this Spring.
We have tried to combine the sand patch construction with some lizard monitoring when the weather has been suitable, and we were especially pleased that our visiting SWWARG members were able to see some fully greened up male Sand Lizards in early May. The majority of our sightings this year have been on the more coastal dunes however, with very few on the fixed dunes, showing the desperate need for those sand patches.
Natterjacks have an early start
Posted on Sunday 13th April, 2014
The mild rainy nights at the end of March and beginning of April triggered an early start to the Natterjack breeding season this year, with calling males, a few mating pairs and a number of spawn strings found in the dune slack pools. Subsequently, the much colder nights have meant that activity has largely ground to a halt, awaiting the return of warmer weather.
This year, the usual Natterjack spawn string counts are being supplemented with measurements of snout-vent length. this is a useful indication of the age of the animals.
The lizards are out!
Posted on Saturday 5th April, 2014
The intermittent warm, sunny weather of the last few weeks has fetched plenty of male Common Lizards and Sand Lizards out of hibernation, and even females are beginning to appear. We have currently recorded about 30 Sand Lizards this year, including about 12 of last year's hatchlings. Many of these hatchlings are still surprisingly small, perhaps due to being born late last year.
The male Sand Lizards at present lack the vivid green colouration seen a bit later in the Spring. This is only achieved after their first slough.
Despite the number of sand Lizard sightings already achieved, numbers are still worryingly low at most sites.