27 January 2012

Froglife Toad Patrols – Helpers Needed

Amphibians across the country are stirring, emerging from their winter hiding places to breed as the weather gets milder.  For Common toads, busy roads all too often bisect their habitat, separating them from their breeding ponds. Last year alone, Froglife’s Toad Patrol volunteers helped over 60,000 toads to safety across the UK. We have a number of Patrols looking for extra support to go out on mild spring evenings and help the migrating toads in 2012.

Can you help a toad across a road?

The following Toad Patrols have been in touch with Froglife, looking for people to take on a leading role in coordinating volunteers:

• Boroughbridge Road near in North Yorkshire
• The Fisheries, Cranleigh near Godalming in Surrey
• Badwell Ash near Ixworth in Suffolk

There are also a number of sites across the UK where the leading Patrollers have had to retire or we have lost contact. You can view unknown and inactive Patrols on a map here, and let us know if you’d like to investigate restarting a patrol.

Additional volunteers are particularly needed to help with existing Patrols in:

• Green End Pond near Stevenage in Hertfordshire
• Great Waldingfield near Sudbury in Suffolk
• Thwaite Common near Erpingham in North Norfolk

There’s a good chance a Patrol near you is looking for help too – the map of active Patrols is here.

Registered Toad Patrol Volunteers are covered by Froglife insurance and can benefit from materials from our Tuppence a Toad appeal, including hi-vis vests and buckets, and a discount from torch and hi vis suppliers The Glow Company. We can help promote the Patrol and recruit volunteers through press support in your local area, and send you posters to display.

You can find out more about Froglife Toad Patrols and how they work here
• If you are interested in helping out with these patrols, or finding out more about what you can do in your local patch, please get in touch with Lucy.Benyon@froglife.org or 01733 558844
• If you coordinate a Toad Patrol and would like support or volunteers please get in touch with Lucy

You can also support toads and Toad Patrollers by donating to Froglife's Tuppence a Toad appeal here, or buying toad greetings cards from our shop here.

25 January 2012

What YOU Can Do for Wildlife: Part 1

A big thank you to everyone who completed the Froglife Supporters Survey - we have been analysing the results and you will be seeing improvements and new things happening in 2012 as a result.

An impressive proportion of you who completed the survey are already taking wildlife-friendly action– from wildlife gardening, supporting Toads on Roads to involvement in surveys, habitat creation or fundraising.   The number one thing you wanted to hear more about was how you could do even more to help amphibians and reptiles. So, here’s the first of 12 tips from Froglife to inspire you in 2012:

Idea Number 1. Dig a Pond and Enjoy the Beasties.

A flourishing widlife pond - photo: Paul Cox
Trustee Inez Smith created a pond about 6 years ago and says: “We created the pond to encourage the frogs that we often found in the garden and they breed in it now. We have also started to find smooth newts (usually 5 males & 1 female) in the pond and this year we found one baby newt. It’s a small pond but attracts a range of other creatures as well.”

- You don’t have to do it alone – there are tips in our Just Add Water publication, and Froglife’s Kathy Wormald got help from the team to create hers. Perhaps you could have a pond digging party, ask a handy friend or a local landscape gardener for help. 
- Materials are available at a special offer price through World of Water stores.
- If you don’t have space for a pond of your own, local parks and green spaces often need help look for volunteers. You could get in touch with your local council or the Friends of Group for a park to see if you can lend a hand. We also have volunteering opportunities on our website here.

Both Inez and Living Water Officer Iain Maclean remind us of the value of sitting back to “enjoy the beautiful plants and beasties.” Watching the wildlife that flourishes around a pond is a great reminder of why the hard work is worth it, and our educational projects are living proof of the mental and physical health benefits.

“In the summer we spend ages just watching the pond and everything in it and it’s a lovely way to relax,” enthuses Inez. “It makes me very happy to be out digging new ponds!” adds Iain.

We’d love to hear how you get on, and we can share your pond creations stories to inspire and inform others on our the stories page of our website http://www.froglife.org/stories/

You can also help support wildife through becoming a Froglife Friend and supporter.  You can sign up here.

23 January 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

January 23rd is the start of the Chinese year of the Dragon, which runs until February 2013. Froglife is planning a year packed with activities to celebrate, study and conserve the UK’s amphibian and reptile species.

Great Crested Newts are a big focus at the beginning of the year. The UK’s largest newt, they are like little black water dragons with bright yellow patters on their belly. The males have a distinctive crest in breeding season, which stands up along their back when they are in the water. 
A Great crested newt - the UK's largest and most colourful newt
“As a consequence of their decline in the last decades Great crested newts are a protected species in the UK and across Europe,” explains Dr Silviu Petrovan, Froglife’s Conservation Coordinator. “They are more restricted in their habitat needs than some other species and agricultural intensification, roads and new developments have all led to the loss of their historical ponds and terrestrial habitat. Maintaining and recreating habitats to allow populations to re-colonise some areas are the key for their long term survival.”

This year is also a year in which we undertake the Big Newt Count on Hampton Nature Reserve in Peterborough. Hard working volunteers and staff are helping get the Reserve ready for the night time surveys that will be starting in March to check how one of the largest populations of Great Crested Newts in Europe is getting on.

We are launching the Great Crafted Newt competition for crafty people all over the UK to make a newt using a range of weird and wonderful materials.  Young people, artists and crafts people are being challenged to get creative and enter for the chance to win some great prizes!
Can you Craft a Cresty or Knit a Newt?  Enter our Great Crafted Newts Competition!
There are all sorts of things you can do to get involved:

Photos: Jules Howard and Laura Brady