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.
Our next habitat management task is on Sunday, March 11th on the Sefton Coast, when we will be clearing Sea Buckthorn and Poplar regrowth from a site with a small colony of Sand Lizards. For further details, please contact Mike Brown by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
NMARG's first volunteer habitat management task of the current Autumn-Winter season will take place on the weekend of November 24th and 25th, when we will be clearing scrub and small trees from a fixed dune area near Ainsdale in order to improve the habitat for a small colony of Sand Lizards and encourage their spread into the surrounding area. This task is being organised jointly with the Gems in the Dunes project. Anyone interested in joining us, even if its just for a few hours, please contact Mike Brown by email, on email@example.com
Our December habitat management task on the Sefton Coast is taking place on Sunday the16th, when we will be clearing invasive Sea Buckthorn scrub from an area of sand dunes at Ainsdale, to help improve the habitat for Sand Lizards and other important duneland fauna. The task is being organised jointly witht he Gems in the Dunes project. We are hoping to make a nice big bonfire with the Buckthorn we remove! Anyone interested in joining us, please contact Mike Brown, by email, on firstname.lastname@example.org
Our next habitat management task is on Sunday, January 13th, when we will be clearing scrub regrowth from the Birkdale dunes. For further details, please contact Mike Brown at email@example.com
Our next January habitat management task is taking place on Sunday 20th at Ainsdale and is being held jointly with the Gems in the Dunes project volunteers. The task will involve the continuation of the clearance of Sea Buckthorn and other scrub and is located close to the.Ainsdale Discovery Centre. For further details, please contact Mike Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org
Our next task, again joint with the Gems in the Dunes project, will involve removing scrub from a Natterjack Toad breeding area at a National,Trust site at Formby, which also will benefit the local Sand Lizard population. For further details, please contact Mike Brown on email@example.com
Our next habitat management task will take place on Sunday, 17th March, 2019, when we will again be joining forces with the Gems in the Dunes volunteers and staff for some habitat management at a site in Ainsdale where Sand Lizards formerly occurred and we are trying to tempt them back! The task will involve the cutting back of Gorse and the removal of invasive non-native plants on a steep slope. For further details, please contact Mike Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be joining forces with Gems in the Dunes for some sand patch digging, in order to increase the area suitable for female Sand Lizards to lay their eggs in, at a fixed dune site at Ainsdale. There will also be opportunities to observe the lizards, if the weather is suitable. For further details, please contact Mike Brown at email@example.com
Our late Autumn and Winter habitat management tasks on the Sefton Coast gets underway on Saturday, 26th October, when we will be clearing invasive Sea Buckthorn and other scrub at the southern end of the Sefton Coast dune system, for the benefit of Sand Lizards and Natterjack Toads. The task will be joint with the Gems in the Dunes Project. For further details, please contact Mike Brown, by email, on firstname.lastname@example.org
Our second habitat management task of the Winter will take place on Sunday, 24th November, 2019, when we will be clearing invasive Sea Buckthorn and other scrub from an inner dune site on the Sefton Coast with a small colony of Merseyside race Sand Lizards. The task will again be together with staff and volunteers from the Gems in the Dunes project. For further details, please contact Mike Brown, by email, at email@example.com
Mike Brown (chair)
Upcoming events will be listed here.