The aim of this group is to understand and protect the amphibians and reptiles of the Wirral peninsular through organizing training, raising awareness, surveys, habitat management tasks and other conservation activities.
The Wirral Peninsular has historically been habitat of Sand Lizard, Natterjack, Great Crested Newt, Common Frog, Common Toad, Smooth Newt, Palmate Newt, Common Lizard, Slow Worm and Grass Snake. However, developments in the 20th Century has seen species such as the Sand Lizard and Natterjack disappear. Status of other herps have been uncertain, the problem being linked to lack of survey effort and recording.
In 2018, preliminary surveys around Wallasey revealed many new and surprising records for amphibians and reptiles. This was part of the Cheshire & Wirral ARG. However, the size of this district with that county was a bit much, necessitating the formation of a new ARG for Wirral (WiARG) so more surveys and recording can be co-ordinated across this interesting penninsular.
Founding member and acting chair of WiARG, Tom Doherty-Bone, grew up on the Wirral and was frustrated by the lost herpetofauna species and limited opportunities to view the remaining herps in the area. Formation of this new ARG will create the opportunity for local residents in the Wirral to get involved with amphibian and reptile surveys and recording for both enjoyment of these wonderful animals and to aid in their conservation on the Wirral.
The itinerary for 2019 is presently being drawn up, confirmed activities including reptile surveys of the north Wirral coast and amphibian surverys and litter picking at ponds at Central Park Wallasey. Pond creation and monitoring is being planned for a local pocket park in New Brighton for 2019 into 2020. We are going to be involved with the Turtle Tally citizen science project. The possibility for visiting Natterjack sites, and other activities are also being looked into. Suggestions from members are welcomed.
Existing partnerships include the Wirral Ranger Service, the Friends of the North Wirral Coastal Park and Wirral Wildlife.
The present committee consists of: Thomas Doherty-Bone (chair); Jon Bielby (secretary); Frankie Bielby (treasurer); Mike Brown (senior adviser).
The membership fee for 2019-20 is £5, which goes toward conservation activities of the group, such as buying equipment. Payment can either be made in cash or paid through Paypal: paypal.me/WiARG
Membership cycle finishes each April.
Please get in contact if you wish to get involved.
At request of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, we will be rescheduling the task day at Red Rocks Nature Reserve from the 2nd to the 23rd February. Apologies for the incovenience.
Last Saturday a small group of us (three, incl. ranger Rosemary) started to clear the trees shading the pond across the entry road to the park. We were joined by Toby for an hour as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award. As a lot of the work was cutting up the brush and branches and turning them into a hibernaculum, and there is an observable difference in the pond. There is still more to be done, so we will be back again on the following Saturday (1st Feb) to keep at this and get more done. The more who can help the better as we need to make as big impact as possible before amphibians start moving to the ponds for breeding season. There will also be a task day on Tuesday the 11th February.
On the 7th January, we met with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) on Red Rocks Nature Reserve, Hoylake-West Kirby to do some terrestrial habitat management. We removed woody vegetation encroaching on both sand dunes where Natterjack and Common Lizard bask, forage and over-winter, and on ponds where Natterjack and other amphibians breed. The brush was turned into wood chip by the grounds staff of the Royal Liverpool Golf Course, who actually own the land of Red Rock. Red Rock is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and so the CWT manage it on the golf course's behalf to ensure compliance. There is still plenty of work to be done (invasive sea buckthorn is starting to pop up) and we will be back on Sunday the 1st February to do more bits, including on the Natterjack ponds.
We have set up our bank account and membership subs can now be paid via PayPal at paypal.me/WiARG
As a reminder, its £5 per year, renewal April.
We plan to use member subs for equipment, other expenses for surveys, outreach and maybe socials and day trips to other places.
We are rapidly seeing the end of 2019. I want to try something:
For all the herps you've seen around the Wirral, whether you've seen them with us or out and about, make sure to share this information on the ARG-UK's Record Pool. I am pleased to say when I have done this, it efficiently gets transcribed to the National Biodiversity Network and provides the crucial information for conserving our natural heritage. If you do share your findings, drop me an email (email@example.com) so I can have a "see Smither's, I told him to do that" moment, but also to quantify the value of members sharing their own findings to this.
The website to do this is here https://www.recordpool.org.uk/index.php?option=com_records&view=records&layout=survey and if you need any help with how to enter your findings (species ID, georeferencing).
Sunday 23rd February
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Natterjacks will start breeding as early as March, but they have quite specific conditions, such as near vegetation-free ponds, to have a productive breeding season to recruit the next generation.
We’ll be with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust rangers in the natterjack pools pulling and raking the growing reeds. Although the perimeter of the pond will be scraped by machines, the centre of the pools would become too deep for the toads therefore we’ll be doing the rest by hand.
Please bring your own lunch and wellingtons. If you have waders then please bring them as well as we have limited numbers. Make sure you have CHECKED-CLEANED-DRIED your wellies and waders before bringing them on site. Bring water proofs and warm clothing. Biscuits will be brought.
Meet at the slipway to the beach at the end of Stanley Road, CH47 1HZ. (turning off the Hoylake roundabout before heading into West Kirby from the east, or from Hoylake train station).
Hope to see you there.
Cleaver Heath Nature Reserve
Meet on Oldfield Road outside the reserve entrance sign, CH60 6SG.
Sunday 1st March
We have teamed up with the Cheshire Wildlife Trust to help out with obtaining a baseline on the reptiles at Cleaver Heath Nature Reserve to see what is present and what is responding to the habitat management taking place.
We’ll be cutting the refugia from roofing felt, numbering and placing them around the site ready to start surveying throughout the year. This can be heavy going work, so hopefully plenty of us will spread the effort. We’ll also get cutting and raking off bracken in a few areas around the site, which will ultimately increase the light getting to ground level and more basking levels.
Please bring your own lunch, sturdy boots and warm clothes.
This is not really a public transport-friendly locality, so if you want to work out a carpool, contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Date & time: Friday 27th March 2020, 6.30-9.30 p.m.
Venue: Windsor Close Community Centre, Windsor Close, Bebington, Wirral, CH62 5BZ.
Train station: Bebington. Parking: Woodhead Street Car Park.
One year on, the Wirral Amphibian & Reptile Group (ARG) aims to understand and protect the amphibians and reptiles of the Wirral peninsular through organizing training, raising awareness, surveys, habitat management tasks and other conservation activities. This is a volunteer-run initiative of the ARG UK.
The meeting will include a talk on the work of WiARG through 2019-20, with plans for the rest of the year, Q&A and the committee will be elected for 2020-21. This is an opportunity for people to get involved with organizing the ARG.
Talk will be followed by a visit to ponds at the nearby New Ferry Butterfly Park where Smooth Newts are known to put on a good show. Bring a torch and suitable footwear.
Biosecurity: to prevent spreading amphibian disease, footwear should be Checked-Cleaned-Dried. If you keep pet amphibians, please wear clean clothes from last handling.