LOCAL LIZARDS SEEK SUN ON SEFTON COAST
Volunteers are racing to the Birkdale Dunes to provide emergency aid for a very special lizard. The sand lizard is one of Britain’s rarest and most beautiful wild animals. And as the name suggests it is found only in sandy places. Almost all of our sand lizards are confined to a few heathlands in southern England. But local conservationist Mike Brown says, ‘There is a distinct form of sand lizard found only on dunes along the Merseyside coast.’ Mike’s expert eye can tell Merseyside sand lizards apart from those found elsewhere in the country.
But all is not well for the Merseyside sand lizard. A recent report has shown that sand dunes – which are key to the lizards’ survival – are becoming overgrown by scrub and trees on the Sefton Coast. The warmth-loving lizards need unshaded, open sand dunes to allow them to bask in the sun and to breed successfully.
Help is on hand, though, from the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK – a network of specialist volunteers. Angela Julian, the network administrator, said, ‘Our groups normally work on their own local patch – but the Merseyside sand lizard is such a special animal that we are combining forces to provide badly needed help’.
Volunteers from Manchester and South Wales will be helping Northwest Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group, working alongside Sefton Council’s Coast and Countryside team to tackle the scrub that is swamping dunes at north Birkdale. The out-of-town volunteers include specialist chainsaw operators, who are key to reversing the tide of scrub. Angela Julian commented, ‘It might seem odd for conservationists to be chainsawing scrub but sand dunes are a special and scarce habitat which is harmed when scrub takes over. This work is vital to keep the sand of the dunes – and the lizards – running free’.
The Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the United Kingdom are a network of local volunteer groups which specialise in the conservation of native amphibians and reptiles