River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Toad Watch

February 2015

2015 Toad Migration across A134 at Cranwich

As most of you will be aware, local volunteers have established, through their nightly efforts from late February through til end of March, that the toad crossing at Cranwich is one of if not the largest toad population that is struggling to cross a busy road annually in the whole of the UK.

The toads hibernate in the Thetford forest and each spring need to get to their breeding pond on the other side of the A134.  As you can imagine historically this was not the huge task that it has now become, with the road being much wider and far, far busier. The population is struggling to survive. Without the help of volunteers we are not sure how long the population will be viable.

We are not asking for money to help them, just your time, energy and commitment to help a native population survive in today's hectic climate.  You do not have to walk anywhere near the road, we know this puts some people off coming forward to help.  You out don't even have to pick up the toads if you are not keen on that part of the work. We need people to partner other volunteers for safety reasons, we do not want people out alone. Team work is the ideal and we aim for 6-8 volunteers out each evening the toads are active.

They begin to move once the weather warms up to approx 10c and the ground is wet.  They prefer to move through the night and the majority will begin to cross at dusk. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the A134 with its large number if delivery lorries, the traffic is constant throughout the night, so the toads do not have much chance.  Also with the majority attempting to make the journey at dusk, this coincides with the journey home for many workers, so a busy spell clash for both species.

We are working with amphibian conservation groups, highways and local environmentalists to try to solve the problem with permanent, long term toad culverts under the road. This is the only viable option for the future of one of the largest populations of toads in the country and finance is the only obstacle at the present time.

In the meantime we will continue to do what we can and appeal to drivers to cooperate with our efforts but we also ask for those of you who would like to help a native species survive to come forward and volunteer. If you do not want to do evenings, we also require people to work within a team to empty the bucket traps through the day.  Maybe you walk your dog and would be happy to do so along our forest track whilst recovering trapped toads at the same time and releasing them to their breeding pond.  As well as doing a good turn for nature, this is a great way to trim up, get fit and lose a few pounds gained over the winter. The thought of sitting indoors in front of the telly on a damp evening may be something you cannot do without, but our most committed volunteers become addicts to the evening strolls along the A134. Teamwork is strong and the buzz from saving a thousand toads on a busy night is a very positive experience.

We will be organising a daytime site orientation meet for new volunteers at the end of February. For details of how to get involved please call Donna on 01366 500835 or leave your contact details at Stoke Ferry corner shop and someone will call you.

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