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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Our first joint Conservation task of the Winter, when we were ably assisted by three Chainsaw Operating Volunteers who had travelled all the way from South Wales (Pete Hill and Richard Pond of SWWARG) and Bolton (David Orchard of ARGSL), together with four of our members, went very well and was a great example of what can be achieved with the help of other ARG groups. A tremendous amount of unwanted tree and scrub growth was cleared from the North Birkdale Dunes, creating and improving Sand Lizard and Natterjack Toad habitat in the area, see photos in the Photo Gallery. Organised in conjunction with the Sefton Coast and Countryside Ranger Service, we were very lucky with the weather, bright sunshine prevailing over the two days, with typical 'bracing' winds off the sea. Although we were not able to burn any of the vast amount of brash generated at the time, that will be taken care of in the future.
Our next scheduled task, again in conjunction with other ARG groups, is on the 25 & 26 January, 2014, but we may be able to arrange a smaller task for our group before then, to help dispose of the brash from this task, and to tackle some small Sea Buckthorn patches. Watch the 'Events' section for more details !
Natterjack toadlets emerge
Posted on Monday 22nd July, 2013
The hot sunny weather of the last few weeks has accelerated the emergence of tiny Natterjack toadlets and the newly metamorphosed youngsters can now be seen round many of the remaining pools, including the recently constructed scrapes. Carefull treading is needed, however, as the babies are no bigger than small ground spiders, which their scurrying gait closely resembles.
As the pools dry up under the scorching heat of the sun, some of the little toadlets can be found seeking shelter and moisture under any available pieces of wood and other debris, emerging at dusk to feed on tiny invertebrates.
Great Crested Newt larvae can now be found in some of the remaining dune slack pools, bizarre looking creatures with their feathery gills and broad spotty tails ending in a fine filament. At up to two inches long, they are much larger than the Smooth Newt larvae, and they tend to be much more visible, as they hunt voraciously for their prey in the open water.
Natterjacks galore !
Posted on Wednesday 8th May, 2013
The croaking of male Natterjacks at dusk, sounding like the sound of scores of old tin cans being opened at once, can now be heard along many parts of our coastline. The exceptionally high water levels in the dune slacks, due to the previous wet Summer and Autumn, is attracting Natterjacks to breed in many areas which have been dry for some years and this impressive cacophany of noise should herald their best breeding season for a long time.
Following behind the males, the silent females are now starting to arrive at their breeding grounds, and the first strings of spawn are starting to appear. Natterjack spawn is produced in single strings, rather than the double strings of the earlier breeding Common Toads.
Fire at Formby
Posted on Sunday 21st April, 2013
A massive fire in the southern Formby dunes over Easter has destroyed the coastal dune vegetation along a stretch of at least a mile, encompassing some previously good sand lizard colonies. Although the majority of the lizards were probably still in their hibernation burrows, they are now emerging to a desolate landscape devoid of cover and food.
The Final Score
Posted on Tuesday 27th November, 2012
We finally recorded 102 hatchling sand lizards this year, between early September and the middle of November. This might seem a lot, but it was actually the result of some really intensive searching. Also, some hatchlings found in October appeared to be freshly emerged and being so small, we are concerned that they may not survive the Winter. We will just have to wait and see how many appear next Spring.