North Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group

About us

About Us

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




Natterjacks breeding in full swing

Posted on Wednesday 18th April, 2018

With the plenty of water in the Sefton Coast Natterjack breeding pools this year, it looks like being a bumper year for Natterjack breeding, with the dunes resonating to the sound of the croaking males every evening and spawn strings appearing in the shallows of many of the pools now. 

Anyone who would like to go on one of the guided evening walks to see the Natterjacks breeding, please contact


More Buckthorn Clearance, 17th December 2017

Posted on Monday 18th December, 2017

On Sunday, December 17th, despite the incessant rain and drizzle, a amll group of NMARG members cleared a further area of Sea Buckthorn, in a dune slack and south-west facing slope adjacent to the area cleared on 26th November, on the edge of the grazing enclosure on the Ainsdale LNR. It is hoped that this will encourage Sand Lizards to spread landwards from the more frontal dunes.

Buckthorn Bashing Day, 26th November, 2017

Posted on Sunday 26th November, 2017

On a bright, but very blustery day, we managed to clear Sea Buckthorn from a 100 metre stretch of south-east facing sand dune ridge at Ainsdale, making the habitat more suitable for Sand Lizards and Natterjacks.

How have our rare herps fared this Summer, 2017?

Posted on Sunday 3rd September, 2017

Our two rare species of herps, the Natterjack and Sand Lizard on the Sefton Coast are always at the mercy of the elements when it comes to breeding success and every year throws up different conditions.

This year, because of the preceding dry Winter, many of the dune slack pools and 'scrapes' were already dry when the Natterjacks arrived to bred in them in the Spring, and others dried up soon after. In consequence, although final figures are not yet available, counts of successfully metamorphosed Natterjack toadlets in the summer were very low this year, with many sites producing none. This is not, however, a total catastrophe, as the Natterjack is a relatively long-lived animal, and experts consider that if one year in four is a good Natterjack breeding year, then the population will remain stable.

Sand Lizards lay their eggs in the sand and are then dependant on warmth and sunshine to hatch them.This year has seen a rather mixed bag of weather during the Summer and only a few hatchlings have been sighted so far. Hopefully, hopefully we will get some warm, sunny weather in September and October, to enable more successful hatching and to enable those hatchlings to feed up well before entering hibernation. In contrast to the Natterjack, Sand Lizard populations cannot be sustained unless there are frequent years of successful breeding.

Reptile and amphibian survey training May 6th 2017

Posted on Monday 8th May, 2017

A dozen people from NMARG and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Biodiverse Society Project attended the latest reptile and amphibian survey training day at Ainsdale on Saturday, May 6th, which included walks out into the dunes for a couple of practical sessions. Unfortunately, due to the dull, cold weather, we were unable to find any lizards, but we did manage to find and compare eggs of Great Crested Newts and Smooth Newts, as well as adults and juveniles of both species. We also found fresh spawn strings and tadpoles of Natterjack Toads and, after dark, a few adult Natterjacks in the 'scrapes' , although it was too cold and dry for any males to be calling.                                    



Past Events

Show Upcoming Events

Next Habitat Management Task

Sun 28th February, 2016

NMARG's next habitat management task takes place on Sunday, february 28th, when we will continue with cutting back scrub regrowth in the same area of dunes at Birkdale as in the previous task, on February 14th. Anyone interested in helping with this event, please contact Mike Brown on

scrub removal March, 2016

Wed 9th March, 2016

Our next habitat management task, together with volunteers from the Sefton Ranger Service, will take place on Wednesday March 9th, meeting at Ainsdale Discovery Centre at 1pm. This will involve assisting the Rangers with the removal and burning of scrub on the Ainsdale LNR. Anyone interested in helping , please email Mike Brown on

The event due to take place on Sunday, March 13th has been cancelled.

Sand Patch Renovation

Sat 21st May, 2016

Our next habitat management task involves the cleaning over of sand patches on a fixed dune site at Ainsdale, to provide suitable egg laying conditions for female Sand Lizards. For further details, please contact Mike Brown on

Sand Patch Renovation

Sat 28th May, 2016

We are carrying on with our sand patch renovation on saturday, May 28th, on a fixed dune area at Ainsdale. The aim is to remove invasive plants from sand patches created two years ago, and to loosen up the sand, ensuring that the essential conditions for female Sand Lizards to lay their eggs in are available to them.

For further information, please contact Mike Brown at

Next Habitat Management Task

Sun 11th December, 2016

Our next habitat management task is on Sunday, December 11th, when we will be tackling more unwanted scrub and small trees, which are shading or threatening to shade vital Sand Lizard habitat on the Sefton Coast dunes. This task will be in conjunction with the Sefton Coast and Countryside Ranger Service.

Next Habitat Management Task

Sun 11th December, 2016

Our next habitat management task is on Sunday, December 11th, when we will be tackling more unwanted scrub and small trees, which are shading or threatening to shade vital Sand Lizard habitat on the Sefton Coast dunes. This task will be in conjunction with the Sefton Coast and Countryside Ranger Service.

Habitat management for Sand Lizards

Sun 8th January, 2017

This will be our second ''scrub bashing'' habitat management task of the Winter on the Sefton Coast dunes, when we try and control scrub and trees which are invading vital Sand Lizard and Natterjack Toad habitat on the Sefton Coast.


Please note that this task is now Sunday only.




Anyone interested in helping, please contact Mike Brown, on

Habitat management for Sand Lizards and Natterjacks

Sat 28th January, 2017 - Sun 29th January, 2017

This will be our third habitat management task of the Winter on the Sefton Coast, when we will again be helping to control invasive scrub (especially Sea Buckthorn) and trees, which are shading out the open habitats needed by the very rare Merseyside Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads. For further details, please contact Mike Brown, on

Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2017

Sat 11th February, 2017 - Sun 12th February, 2017

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) and Amphibian and Reptile Groups of UK (ARG UK), are delighted to be able to announce the 2017 Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting, which is to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in central Nottingham on 11-12 February 2017.

Running annually for over 27 years, this popular two-day event occupies the centre stage of the herpetological calendar. Once again, a full and varied programme of presentations and workshops is on offer, with plenty of opportunities to network with the speakers and other delegates. The meeting attracts a diverse audience representing: conservation organisations, ecological consultants, statutory bodies, land managers, academic institutions and students, and enthusiastic volunteers.

In 2017, the meeting will cover a range of topics including: the importance of the new chytrid species, B.sal, for our native amphibians; showcasing a range of novel approaches to reptile mitigation; restoring overgrown farmland ponds; updates from the national statutory agencies; conservation priorities for Adders; using SUDS to help toads; the RAVON approach to monitoring for widespread species in the Netherlands; integrated approaches to Great Crested Newt monitoring, including the use of genetic techniques to understand population dynamics; Aesculapian Snakes; and some interesting examples of how citizen science can support amphibian and reptile conservation, from Cornwall and Scotland.

There is also a strong workshop programme, and topics will include: eDNA surveys for Great Crested Newts; developing a new national widespread species recording scheme; practical tips for restoring overgrown ponds; EPS licensing updates; and developing guidelines for guided public reptile walks. Something for everyone!

  pdf (138 KB) Download the programme here

BOOKINGS ARE NOW OPEN - Please go to the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation website to book your place and select your workshops. There is a reduction in price for ARG members.

next habitat management task

Sun 19th February, 2017

NMARG's next habitat management task on the Sefton Coast is on Sunday, 19th February. The task will involve the clearance of invasive scrub, especially Sea Buckthorn, on the Ainsdale sand dunes LNR. For further details, please contact Mike Brown, on


Contact us

Contact Us

Mike Brown (chair)


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