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, sometimes in partnership with other ARG groups, Natural England staff and volunteers 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 email@example.com
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.
Conservation Tasks 22/23 February 2014
Posted on Monday 24th February, 2014
Our latest conservation weekend saw the largest turnout of the Winter, NMARG members being joined by ARG volunteers from ARGSL, SWWARG, NERAG, FARG and Bangor University! Starting in brilliant sun shine, about 30 volunteers continued the tree and scrub clearance started on the previous task, whilst 8 people were involved with the tree and scrub clearance on an overgrown steep bank formerly containing a good population of sand lizards. Another 8 were drafted over from the other site on the Sunday, to help feed the wood chipper which we had hired for the day. This work was only possible thanks to a generous grant from the British Herpetological Society, as well as previous funding from ARG UK.
During the preceeding week, a party of 4 from ARC had travelled up from the South and tackled 4 different sites on the Sefton Coast which had also been identified for urgent tree and scrub removal to benefit sand lizards and matterjack toads. This means that 6 sites in total have seen significant tree and scrub removal in one week!
More tree and scrub clearance
Posted on Monday 27th January, 2014
Our second joint ARG conservation task of the Winter, on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th January, 2014, went well, with a great deal more unwanted tree and scrub growth (especially Sea Buckthorn) cleared from an overgrown area of the Sefton Coast which still supports a population of sand lizards and a few pairs of Natterjacks. Hopefully, both will increase in the future.
8 volunteers from NMARG, together with 5 from ARGSL and 2 Chainsaw Operators from SWWARG, in conjunction with John Gramauskas from Sefton MBC operating the chipper, worked hard all day Saturday and created huge piles of cut brash as well as several wagon loads of chippings (see pictures above). A much smaller group went back on the Sunday morning and cleared more Buckthorn at one end of the site in continuous driving rain.