River Wissey Lovell Fuller


April 2011

Donna reports of the efforts made by local volunteers to protect migrating toads

Spring 2011


Volunteers step up to save local toads at Cockley Cley and Cranwich

Local toads are to be helped across a busy road at Cranwich nr Northwold and Cockley Cley nr Oxborough, as part of a national campaign to help save the common toad Bufo bufo from disappearing in the region.

Volunteers from surrounding villages are gearing up to visit the site over the next few weeks and will help carry the toads over the busy road. Toads are very particular about where they lay their spawn and migrate back to ancestral breeding ponds each year. When the spring weather is mild enough the toads start to move.

This is our first year of attempting to help the toads (and Frogs) of our area. Both sights are registered migration routes. We were spurred into action by the high number of deaths last year. Volunteers are required to wear reflective, waterproof jackets and carry a high powered torch. Any time you can spare, from one hour to one evening or more will benefit the local toad population. We will patrol on wet evenings of approx 10degrees +. Froglife offer free insurance that can be arranged with the patrol organiser.

The common toad -a charismatic amphibian with warty skin and waddling gait- is thought to be experiencing declines in the UK, in some cases caused by the effect of road traffic as toads travel slowly back to breeding ponds, often used for generations.

These local volunteers are part of a national campaign called 'Toads on Roads', coordinated by the national wildlife charity Froglife, and supported by ARG UK, a national network of volunteer groups concerned with amphibian and reptile conservation. Over the coming weeks, one thousand volunteers will be gearing up to help toads across the UK's roads, in a coordinated effort to help save the charming animal from further declines.

Other Toad Patrols exist around Norfolk, details of which can be found on the Froglife website (www.froglife.org) - for more details: info@froglife.org or call 01733 558844.

For details of how to join in and help toads contact local Toadpatroller Donna Stocking 01366 500835

Facts about common toads:


* Adults grow to around 8cm long.

* Dry, 'warty' skin.

* Body colour is generally brown-green-grey and can have some dark markings on the back. Like the common frog a toad's colour can change depending on the environmental conditions it experiences.

* Has a gland behind each eye that secretes toxins, making it distasteful to predators.

* Moves by crawling but can do small hops.

* The eye has a bronze/gold coloured iris and horizontal slit pupil.

* Belly is a light colour and can be spotted.

Toads feed on slugs, worms and insects, mostly at night, and may be found around the garden hiding under plant pots, logs and bins during the day. They return to the same ponds year after year to spawn. They prefer large ponds often with fish (unlike other amphibians) - fish do not like to eat toad tadpoles because they find them distasteful.

The common toad is widespread in England, Scotland (except the Northwest, where it is rare or absent) and Wales. They're not found in Ireland.

Current status: There have been declines in toad numbers in much of lowland England and similar decreases are thought to have occurred in Wales and Scotland. This appears to be partly due to the effect of road traffic during the breeding season and also due to loss of breeding ponds. Common toads are a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species.

Further information on Toads on Roads and Toad Patrollers: www.froglife.org

* In addition to death by cars themselves, common toads also fall foul of badly designed road features like high kerbs which steer toads towards drains, where they are then trapped and die.

* Of the 800 toad crossing registered under the 'Toads on Roads' scheme, many have the iconic 'Toad Crossing' signs approved by the Government's Department for Transport.

* In 2010, over 70,000 toads were helped across the UK's roads.

* One third of the world's 6,000 amphibians are officially threatened with extinction. For further information: www.amphibianark.org

Donna Stocking

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