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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)