9 March 2011

Spring in the air for toads like Widdy and Wigbert...

Froglife has been receiving more and more reports of Common toads on the move as the weather warms up. Toads like our characters Widdy and Wigbert are waking up from their winter hibernation state and thinking about breeding.  This means that Toad Patrols up and down the country are going out to help the small amphibians make their way to their favourite ponds to lay their long strands of spawn. If there’s a busy road between the toads and the pond, hundreds of them can be killed in one night.

Sivi Sivanesan, our Great Crested Newt Officer, has been on her first Patrol with the newly formed Ham Toad Patrol in Richmond, London. She shares her thoughts on her night time adventure rescuing toads:

“I was nervous and excited about taking part in my first toad patrol. I work with newts, so while I know the theory around toad crossings, toads are still the cute amphibian that I see while surveying for my first amphibian love – the newt.

So I had odd thoughts going through my head: what if we don’t have that many volunteers, what if all the animals decide to turn up at once and I end up stepping on one if the numbers are so high that they form a carpet under my feet? (my mind has a propensity for the dramatic!).

Luckily for my piece of mind, this new patrol of local volunteers has been working closely with the Ecology Officers in the London Borough of Richmond, Froglife and the London Amphibian and Reptile Group (LARG). As a result there is a temporary chicken wire fence in place along the area where most of the toads cross, new toad warning signs, a planned temporary road closure for from mid-March during the time that toads moved the two previous years and lots of enthusiastic volunteers ready to pick up some toads, headed by the couple who first noticed the dead toads and reported them to the council – Diane Slater and Jonathan Fray.

The night went well and between 5.30-9.30pm we saved 116 toads and 1 frog. We found 1 dead male toad that had been crossing the other way, as well as one dead female toad on a stretch of road outside of the main crossing area.

I’ll be back again on following nights while the toads are still moving, a little less nervous, but loving the experience all the same.”

If you would like to take part like Sivi you can find more information here: http://www.froglife.org/toadsonroads/index.htm

And you can support our Tuppence a Toad campaign to raise money to save more toads here:

Good luck to all of our Toad Patrollers!