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
Unfortunately, no NMARG events will be organised at present, due to the covid-19 virus outbreak.
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.
ARGSL and Bangor University students are jointly organising a scrub clearance day, in order to open up a Great Crested Newt breeding pond, at Rixton Claypits SAC/SSSI, near Warrington, on Monday, March 2nd., meeting at 10 a.m. Anyone from NMARG who is interested in going along and helping with this is very welcome. Please contact David Orchard at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are intending to take part in this important habitat management work, a change from sand dune habitat management !
Detailed directions to the site are below:-
By car from Warrington - follow Manchester Road (A57) out of Woolston, across both M6 roundabouts for approximately mile. Continue past Moat Lane, past the visitor centre about 400 yards on the left, and another 120 yards on the left is the car park. Please note that the visitors centre is set back 30m from the road and not well signposted, so it is easily missed.
From Cadishead- follow Liverpool Road (A57) through the traffic lights at Warburton Bridge Road and continue for another 420 metres. The car park is on the right between Chapel Lane and Moat Lane.
Please park on the main car park, not in front of the visitors centre.
The next NMARG habitat management task, on Saturday, March 7th, will involve trying to dispose of the remaining brash from previous tasks on the Sefton Coast, by dragging it to the fire sites and burning it. We will also be doing some removal of small Sea Buckthorn and Poplar suckers and regrowth. This task may carry on the following day (Sunday). Further details will be available at a later date.
A reptile and amphibian survey training day has been organised by 'The Biodiverse Society', a partnership project between Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Lancashire Environmental Records Network and Merseyside Biobank. This is in conjunction with NMARG, and will take place on Friday, April 24th, at Ainsdale Discovery Centre, between 1 - 5 pm. The aim is to encourage and assist volunteers with monitoring and surveying wildlife, and this session will mainly be 'in the classroom', with practical sessions to follow at a later dater. Anyone interested in attending, please contact Joanne Brierley-Moore, the Project Manager, at email@example.com.
The Green Angels are holding a Bioblitz at the old Liverpool Festival Gardens site on Friday, August 14th, 7.30 - 11 pm and on the following day, Saturday, August 15th, 10 am - 4 pm. This will include some pond dipping sessions, searching for amphibians, as well as a bat walk on the Friday evening and small mammal trapping. If anyone needs further details, please contact Mike Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org
This event has been organised by South Lancs Amphibian and Reptile Group, but if any of our members would like to take part, they will be very welcome. The work involves tree and scrub removal in order to improve the site, which is a very important breeding site for Great Crested Newts. Anyone who would like to help in this task, please contact email@example.com for further details.
This event has been cancelled, due to severe weather warning of possible storm force winds
This event will involve the clearance of invasive Sea Buckthorn at Ainsdale, on the Sefton Coast, in order to improve the habitat for Natterjack Toads and Sand Lizards
NMARG's next habitat management task is on Sunday, January 24th, when we will be removing scrub which is invading valuable Sand Lizard and Natterjack Toad habitat in the Sefton Coast sand dunes. For further details, please email Mike Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our next habitat management task takes place on Sunday, January 31st, at Ainsdale, on the Sefton Coast. For further details, please email Mike Brown on email@example.com
Our next habitat management task will involve clearing Sea Buckthorn and other scrub which has regrown following large scale clearance two winters ago at a site on the Sefton Coast which is important for Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads. For further details, please email Mike Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Brown (chair)
Upcoming events will be listed here.