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.
NMARG's next habitat management task is on Sunday, March 5th, again on the Sefton Coast. Although the exact venue is yet to be decided, we will be probably be clearing relatively small and less spiky scrub regrowth and suckers this time, from important Sand Lizard areas which are being overtaken by invasive growth of poplar, etc. Anyone interested in joining us, please contact Mike on firstname.lastname@example.org
NMARG are running another reptile and amphibian survey training event in conjunction with the Lancahire Wildlife Trust Biodiverse Society Project on Saturday, May 5th, in the afternoon and evening, at Ainsdale. This year, we are combining the reptile and amphibian training into one event, which will include a classroom session (at Ainsdale Discovery Centre) and a search of the surrounding area for amphibians and reptiles (weather permitting). Times are not finalised yet, but anyone interested in attending, please contact Mike Brown on email@example.com
The event will probably culminate in a Natterjack walk at dusk, again weather permitting.
Our next habitat management task is on Sunday, 28th May, when we will be renovating sand patches at Ainsdale for Merseyside Sand Lizards to lay their eggs in. Anyone interested in joining us, please contact Mike Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
NMARG is organising a lizard monitoring morning on the Sefton Coast on Sunday, September 10th., when we will be looking particularly for hatchling sand lizards and juvenile common lizards, born this year. This is a good measure of breeding success in what has been quite a mixed Summer for weather. Anyone interested in joining us, please email Mike Brown on email@example.com
This event will only take place in suitable weather conditions, as lizards don't like wet and windy weather!
NMARG's first volunteer habitat management task of the current Winter will be on Sunday, November 26, on the Sefton Coast, when we will be tackling an area of Sea Buckthorn scrub which is invading valuable Sand Lizard and Natterjack habitat at Ainsdale. The work will involve cutting down, dragging off and burning this highly invasive spiky shrub and is vitally important for the continued survival of the Merseyside Race Sand Lizard and the maintenance of suitable terrestrial habitat for Natterjacks. This task will be undertaken in conjunction with ARC's Gems in the Dunes project and the Sefton Council Ranger Service. Anyone interested in helping out, please contact Mike Brown by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
NMARG's next volunteer scrub clearance day on the Sefton Coast is on Sunday, December 17th. For more details, please contact Mike Brown on email@example.com
Our first habitat management task of the New Year will be on Sunday, January 7th. This will be another session of scrub and tree removal on an area of vital importance for Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads on the Sefton Coast. This task will be held jointly with Friends of the Sefton Coast volunteers and meeting at 10am at the Ainsdale Discovery Centre. For further details, please email Mike Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org
Further habitat management tasks will be held on the following dates:
Sunday, January 21st
Sunday, January 28th
Sunday, February 18th
sunday, March 11th
NMARG's next volunteer habitat management task is on Sunday, January 21st, when we will be tackling another area of invasive scrub on the Sefton Coast, in order to improve the habitat for Merseyside Sand Lizards. For further details, please email Mike Brown on email@example.com
NMARG's next volunteer habitat management task is on Sunday, 28th January, when we will be clearing more Sea Buckthorn from prime Sand Lizard habitat on the Sefton Coast. If you would like to join our group and help with this vitally important conservation work, please contact Mike Brown by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Our next scrub control task is taking place on 18th February, when we will be clearing Sea Buckthorn and Poplar regrowth for the benefit of the Merseyside race Sand Lizard on the Sefton Coast. For further details, please contact Mike Brown, by email, on email@example.com
Mike Brown (chair)
Upcoming events will be listed here.