12 May 2011

Richmond Park Friends Walk

Froglife will be hosting a special walk for Froglife Friends around the ponds in the beautiful Richmond Park in London on Saturday 21st May. This walk is one of a series offered to our Froglife Friends, who support our work for just £18 a year.

We have been surveying the ponds in Richmond Park as part of our Great Crested Newts Revisited project, and project officer Sivi Sivanesan will be leading the ramble, talking about her work in the area.

“Richmond Park is a stunning place to work, and a perfect location for a leisurely walk,” explains Sivi. “There are nearly 30 ponds hidden around this site and so far we have spotted common frogs, common toads, smooth newts and great crested newts. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of the people that support us and taking them on a tour.”

The walk will start at 10 am meeting at Richmond Gate and finish at 12 noon at Kingston Gate. There will be some refreshments provided, but people are also invited to bring their own, and perhaps stop for a pic nic in the park afterwards. We recommend that walkers wear comfortable shoes and bring a bottle of water; if temperatures remain as high as they have been recently then insect repellent, sun screen and a hat are also advisable.

The other Friends walks will be:
 • Glasgow: Robroyston Local Nature Reserve - Saturday 4th June
• Peterborough: Hampton Nature Reserve – date to be confirmed

Providing the opportunity to meet some of the Froglife team and visit locations where we have been supporting amphibians and reptiles.
 If you would like to book a place on any of the walks, please get in touch with the office on 01733 558844 or email info@froglife.org . We are limited to 20 places for each walks so get in touch quickly to reserve your place!
 If you would like to become a Froglife Friend and support our work you can sign up here.

9 May 2011

Five-footed toad found!

At this time of year frogs and toads are a common sight but North London gardener Lucy Conochie was surprised to come across this little fellow…

At first glance this appears to be an ordinary common toad – with its warty skin and golden eyes – but on closer inspection it becomes clear that this is no ‘common’ toad. This unusual little amphibian has an extra foot, with two limbs growing from the elbow on its right front leg.

“I was doing a regular gardening maintenance job for one of my clients in North London, near the West Reservoir,” explains Ms Conochie. “As I was clearing some weeds from around the edge of his pond I noticed a couple of young toads which I started to carefully move out of the way. I picked up this particular little toad and I thought he had some weed wrapped around his front leg. But as I looked closer I saw it was no less than a perfectly formed extra foot! I took a photo of it on my phone, and my client's daughter also took a few pictures with her camera, and I sent the photos off to Froglife to find out a bit more about what was going on.”

Froglife’s Wildlife Information Service deals with thousands of enquiries every year (though not all are so unusual!).

“It’s likely this deformity is a genetic mutation,” says Conservation Communication Officer Lucy Benyon. “As with all animals, including humans, naturally occurring genetic problems can lead to extra or missing limbs. Occasionally it can be a sign of pollution in the area or a parasite in the water but it’s more likely to be something natural which is nothing to worry about.”

Ms Conochie released the toad back near the pond where it climbed off into the undergrowth. “The toad seemed to be coping well with its extra foot; it was perfectly able to crawl away and was just as elegant as a regular toad!”

If you've got an amphibian- or reptile-related question check out our Frequently Asked Questions or get in touch.

Photo by Alice Timmins.