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
We've finally seen some hatchling sand lizards, although they're mostly about three weeks later than average in hatching. Up to 22nd September, we've recorded a total of 36 babies, including a few which appeared rather sickly. They were clustered in a few areas, which suggests hatching is still very patchy. Now that these hatchlings are up and about, they will need plenty of warm sunshine to allow them to feed and bulk up before going into hibernation for the Winter. Sadly, there's not much sign of that at present.
Natties up, Sandies down
Posted on Saturday 14th July, 2012
What started as such a promising season for our sand lizards has turned into little short of a disastrous one. The appalling weather in April, part of May, most of June and July so far has resulted in few observations, especially on the slightly more inland sites. We think that their breeding season will be badly affected, as the females, which have rarely been seen atall, depend on the heat of the sun for coming into breeding condition, developing their eggs inside them and also need a nice warm day for actually laying their eggs in the sand. On top of this, warm sunshine is important for actually heating up the sand to allow the eggs to successfully incubate. We havn't actually seen any females in the process of seeking out egg laying sites this year. Worryingly, what may have happened is that at least some of the females have actually reabsorbed their eggs, something that happened to four of Paul Hudson's captive breeding sandies this year. Nonetheless, its not all doom and gloom. We had a few sightings of sandies in an area of the coastal dunes where there were no previous records, at least not for a long time. Also, we've managed to see about half a dozen juveniles close to the 2011 release site. Conversely, the Natterjacks have enjoyed a good, if belated, breeding season, the best for quite a number of years, as the copious quantities of rain have filled up their breeding pools. The Natty toadlets have emerged on some sites, whilst the increasing depth of water at other pools has slowed up the tadpoles development, as the water temperatures have remained low. The occasional adult male can still be heard calling, even in the daytime!
Posted on Sunday 11th March, 2012
The lizard monitoring season has now commenced, with 5 sand lizards and 6 common lizards active at one of our coastal sites on Saturday, March 10. No doubt the warm sunshine we have experienced at times recently has tempted them out of hibernation. The sand lizards included two adult males and two babies born last year. All of the common lizards were adult males.
Natterjack plans for 2012
Posted on Thursday 9th February, 2012
We intend to become more involved with natterjack toad monitoring in 2012, so hopefully we’ll experience some nice warm evenings in April and May! We are particularly concerned about natterjack population levels this year, as they have failed to breed successfully in all but one area for about 5 years. The breeding pools which the natterjacks use have generally either dried up before the toads could even spawn, or have dried up before the tadpoles could metamorphose.
Sand Lizards in 2012
Posted on Thursday 9th February, 2012
Our group will continue to record and monitor the populations of the rare Merseyside Sand Lizard in 2012. We may not discover any more ‘new’ populations this year, but it is important that we continue to study the known ones, in order to highlight any declines and assess the causes. Also, we are concerned that the poor Summer weather during the last 5 years and poor Autumn weather last year may have a serious impact on populations. We will also be keenly monitoring the juvenile sand lizards released on a sandy heathland site in our area in 2010 and 2011