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 email@example.com
Our second habitat management task of the Winter, at the Ainsdale end of the Birkdale Sandhills LNR and SSSI, was successfully completed on November 24th 2019, when we again joined forces with the Gems in the Dunes project staff and volunteers, to undertake the clearance of highly invasive shrubs, especially Cotoneaster and Sea Buckthorn, in order to open up a very steep south-facing bank and encourage colonisation by Sand Lizards (see photos above).
On Friday, November 1st a group of volunteers from WSP and Tyrer Ecological Consultants joined forces with Gems in the Dunes and NMARG for a very successful day of scrub clearance on the Ainsdale dunes, when a large area of Sea Buckthorn was completely cleared, burnt and stump treated (see pictures).
Our first habitat management task of the winter season, 2019-2020 was completed on Saturday 26th October, 2019, when, despite the rather wet conditions, six people from NMARG and the Gems in the Dunes project successfully cleared an area of invasive Sea Buckthorn on the Hightown dunes, with the stumps treated with herbicide, in order to prevent regrowth. This work was completed in order to encourage our rare Merseyside race Sand Lizards to spread their range.
Whilst the Sefton Coast Natterjacks' initial breeding in late March and April was inhibited by a lack of water in some pools, due to the relatively dry Winter, there was a second bout of spawning at many sites in early June, following a period of heavy rainfall. The tadpoles from this second spawning are now progressing nicely, with the help of the warm sunny weather in late June and early July. Many pools, where the first crop of Natterjack tadpoles suffered from competition with Common Toad tadpoles, are now free from this competition, with most of the Common Toad tadpoles now having metamorphosed, so it promises to be a better end to the Summer for Natterjack metamorphosis, providing we get some rain to keep the pools topped up with water!
The Gems in the Dunes Project created and deepened a number of Natterjack 'scrapes' during the Winter months, both with the use of machines and by hand, removing vegetation from existing ones, with the help of some of our members. This work has proved enormously beneficial to Natterjack breeding this year, especially with the water table being lower than average in the dunes.
Our first two habitat management tasks of the current Winter, held jointly with the Gems in the Dunes staff and volunteers, clearing and burning Sea Buckthorn and other scrub from important Sand Lizard sites, have been completed successfully. Many thanks to the Gems in the Dunes staff for organising the fires and goodies so efficiently. We will be holding further tasks at regular intervals through the Winter, and these will be advertised in the Events section very soon.
tree and scrub clearance on the Birkdale Dunes with the help of other ARG Group members. Please contact Mike Brown for further details.
Continuing tree and scrub clearance for improving habitat for sand lizards in the Birkdale area, we will again be joined by two Chainsaw Operators from SWWARG, as well as several members of the South Lancashire ARG. More details later.
Further scrub and tree removal in order to improve habitats for sand lizards. For this task we will be joined by a large contingent from the South Lancashire ARG !
Now that the bird nesting season is commencing, we are restricted to the removal of very invasive Sea Buckthorn and Poplar suckers and regrowth, using hand tools only. For this task, we will be attacking small Poplars and Sea Buckthorn at two sites in Ainsdale which were previously good Sand Lizard sites and will greatly benefit from even this more 'Gardening' type of work.
Natterjack Walks have been organised by Sefton Council and Natural England during the likely period for Natterjack Breeding, as follows :
Friday, 18th April Natural England - Ainsdale NNR - leader Pete Gahan
Saturday, 19th April Sefton Council - Hightown?
Friday, 25th April Sefton Council, meeting at Ainsdale Discovery Centre - leader John Gramauskas
Saturday, 26th April Natural England - Ainsdale NNR - leader Pete Gahan
Bookings should be made as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment.
Bookings for Sefton Council are on 0151 934 2967 and for Natural England on 01704 578774
We are creating sand patches for Sand Lizards on a long bank overgrown with grass, on a golf course where Sand Lizards formerly existed and have the potential to recolonise, in the Southport area.
Habitat management work for Sand Lizards at Ainsdale. Mainly clearance of invasive Sea Buckthorn , Poplar and other scrub.
Continuation of the scrub and small tree clearance started on the first task in December at Ainsdale, and further scrub and tree clearance at North Bikdale dunes, for the benefit of sand lizards and natterjacks. For this task, we will be joined by members of the South Lancs Amphibian and Reptile Group.
Anyone wishing to help, please contact Mike Brown by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our third big habitat management weekend of the Winter will take place in an area of old relict dunes close to Ainsdale, when we will again be joined by members of SWWARG, armed with their chainsaws. The aim is to clear trees and scrub, especially Sea Buckthorn, in order to encourage the spread of a small colony of Sand Lizards, as well as benefitting the Common Lizard population there. Anyone interested in joining us, please contact Mike at the email address below.
We are also planning to hold our AGM on the Saturday, after the task.
For our fourth habitat management weekend, in mid-February, 2015, we will be continuing with essential tree and scrub clearance for Sand Lizards and Natterjacks on the Sefton Coast. NMARG will again be assisted by two chainsaw operators from SWWARG for this task. Further details will be given at a later date.
Mike Brown (chair)
Upcoming events will be listed here.