www.argsl.org.uk
Established to promote amphibian and reptile conservation in the vice county of South Lancashire

ARGSL has created 53 amphibian ponds in Lancashire since 2005!

Projects Habitat management in Talacre, North Wales

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Habitat management in Talacre, North Wales PDF Print E-mail

Talacre is an interesting coastal site that is part of an extensive and ecologically diverse sand dune system, extending westwards towards Prestatyn and beyond. Due to the outstanding wildlife value of the entire dune system and foreshore it has been notified by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). 'Coastal sand dunes' are a UK BAP Priority Habitats in their own right but they also support a range of priority species and also protected species.

And on 27th February 2009, for the fourth year running, ARGSL volunteers teamed up with BCV and travelled down to Talacre for a residential habitat management weekend.

"But what is the Amphibian and Reptile link?" you might ask.  Well, the answer is that the dune habitats at Talacre support populations of two of our rarest herp species in the UK; the Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis) and the Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamatia).

And here's a little account of what our task weekend entailed:-


On the evening of Friday 27th Feb a little procession of volunteers from ARGSL and BCV travelled down to the Talacre static caravan park, right next to the dunes. 

Talacre - location of the weekend residential.JPG

Our task for the weekend was simply manual labour to help keep the dune habitats in suitable condition for Sand Lizard and Natterjack Toad to survive and breed sucessfully; this would entail scrub clearance to keep the dunes suitably open for the lizards and digging out scrapes to make them hold enough water for breeding Natterjacks
ARGSL  BCV united.JPG
(Photograph of the merry working party - ARGSL and BTC united)

Ecology of the dunes...

Sand dunes are dynamic systems. They typically comprise 'pioneer/embryo' dunes just above the high  water mark, then 'mobile' dunes a bit further inland, and then static dunes even further inland. They are dependant on a supply of dry sand and shore winds for their perpetuation and also on the presence of pioneer plant species like Sand Couch Grass, Marram Grass and Lyme Grass for a bit of stability and structure.
View of the talacre dunes.JPGdunes landscape.JPG
(Photographs of the sand dunes at Talacre © Lorna Bousfield)

For example in northern England and Wales Sand lizards have a very restricted distribution and are highly reliant on 'mobile' dune systems with a mosaic of marram cover and exposed sand patches, particularly with undulating terrain and south-facing slopes where they can lay their eggs in the soft, sun exposed sand.

Meanwhile, the Natterjack toad is one of the UK’s rarest amphibians (restricted to only sixty or so sites around Britain) and it also favours sandy and sparsely-vegetated coastal dunes, plus upper saltmarshes and lowland heaths. 
Natterjack-11.JPG
(Photograph of Natterjack Toad © Colin Mather of BCV)

But encroachment by scrub (like in the picture below) can pose quite a serious problem because it makes the dune systems too stable, i.e. it reduces the amount of 'mobile dune' that is avaiable for use by Sand Lizards.
scrub encroachment.JPG
(Photograph of scrub encroachment at Talacre)

So this is what prompts the requirement for habitat management

 

 

And here's a montage of what the habitat management weekend entailed....

work in progress.JPGchainsaw in action.JPGvolunteers in action - Lee.JPG


 




















volunteers in action - Fiona.JPG

 



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