The migration of the toads from the Ashwellthorpe Wood colony acoss The Street to their breeding pond continues even though the weather for them is not ideal – too dry and some evenings too chill. As from Monday 5 March 2012, the toad crossing patch along The Street, Ashwellthorpe, will be patrolled from 6.00 p.m. to 8.15 p.m.
The breeding season of toads is about to begin and the Ashwellthorpe Street patrols will start their vigils on Wednesday 22nd February 2012, initially from 17.30 until about 20.00. The start times will get later as daylight hours extend.
Many thousands of animals are saved each year in Norfolk and other places by volunteers gently placing the amphibians in buckets and carrying them across roads to avoid roadkill during the toads etc. breeding season which starts in February and continues until about the beginning of April. The toads prefer to travel at dusk, when the temperature is over 7 C and when it is slightly damp.
The toads in Ashwellthorpe live in Ashwellthorpe Wood on the north side of Aswellthorpe Street, but their breeding pond lies to the south of the road – toads can live for up to forty years and always return to their same breeding pond, year after year. Some of you will remember that Rosemary Tilbrook who lived in Red Squirrels used to ferry toads/frogs/newts across the road for many years up until her death in 1999. There are now some 15 volunteers including youngsters with their parents in Ashwellthorpe who will come out in all weathers to help this migration. The amphibians are lifted into the buckets as they are spotted approaching the pavement beside the road and ferried across to the grass verge on the other side, immediately in front of their breeding pond.
The site in Ashwellthorpe Street lies roughly from the end of Greenwood Close westwards to the first fieldgate of Street Meadow. The patrols are out during what is Ashwellthorpe’s “rush hour” of people coming home from work, i.e. 5.30 p.m. onwards right through until the evening “going-out rush-hour” finishes at about 8.00 p.m. The patrollers will be wearing Hi-Viz hazard jackets/tabards, carry torches and the site will be indicated by open permanent toad road signs and also Toad Patrol A-Boards on the pavements.
PLEASE BE AWARE OF THESE TOADWATCH PATROLS AND SO AVOID THE HUMANS AND THE TOADS!
5 April 2011 – Ashwellthorpe’s Toad Watch activity finished on Sunday 3 April after over five weeks of patrols. The weather during March this year did not meet the required temperature of 5 to 9 degrees with dampness or rain from twilight onwards for the toads to start their migration from Ashwellthorpe Wood to their breeding pond on The Street, it being a dry month and much colder than wanted.
However, Patrols were mounted whenever John Heaser at the Norfolk Toad Watch Group indicated that the weather merited a “High” or “Medium” chance of migration, initially from 6.00 p.m. for a couple of hours and then from 8.00 p.m. for about an hour.
The number of toads ferried to safety across the road to the pond (and in a few cases at the end of the breeding season, back to the Wood side of the road!) in Ashwellthorpe Street between 23 February and 3 April 2011 amounted to 51; frogs numbered 12 and 1 common newt also. There were 7 toad and 3 frog fatalities from passing traffic.
51 toads represents nearly a five-fold increase over last year’s numbers – it is hoped that the Ashwellthorpe toad patrollers have helped the Ashwellthorpe colony of toads back towards the healthy numbers there used to be.
Many thanks to: Liz Ball and nieces, Annette Bunting, Laura Gibbons, Margaret Mercer, Brian Moss, Cathryn Pitt and her children, Jane Wareham and Sid Weiner who patrolled several times in all weathers; and to Rick and Nancy Adams, Julie Bruton-Seal, Dianne Hinchley and Lisa Vincent and her daughter who were waiting in the wings if needed. Jennifer Robbie