Thursday 24 February 2011 – The Toad Watch Patrols have just begun their work for this year’s breeding migration. The (human) volunteers on Toad Watch operate between the Road Toad Warning signs, at present between 6.00 p.m. and 8.00/9.00 p.m. when dusk/dark is falling and The Street is at its busiest. The conditions the toads require for their migration are damp after-dusk evenings, with a temperature no lower than 5 to 9 degrees. The first patrol was 23 February but no amphibian was sighted – although wet and relatively mild, probably still just too cold. Today’s occurrence of migration is classed as “Medium”.
The volunteers’ task is to ferry toads, frogs and newts across the road to avoid the carnage that used to happen some years ago when hundreds were squashed by passing traffic. Not that very long ago, it was even impossible to walk along the pavement in The Street without actively trying not to stand on a toad or frog!
The Ashwellthorpe colony of toads lives in Ashwellthorpe Wood but once the breeding season starts, the toads will make their way from the Wood to their breeding pond which is just over the hedge on the south side of The Street, opposite Red Squirrels. Toads can live for up to 40 years so their breeding pond is of great importance to them and they will return to it every year. There is a rota of volunteers who will place the toads etc. in buckets and carry them across the road to the grass verge near the pond.
The Toad Road Signs are opened each evening; extra warning signage is put out on the grass verges each evening; the volunteers will be wearing reflective tabards and carrying torches and they will take every care of passing traffic for their own safety.
This page will keep you informed of the numbers “saved” which are also forwarded to Toadwatch for collation (along with numbers of those who were killed) for an overall view. Toad Patrols are also operating in Great and Little Melton, Bowthorpe, Costessey, Cockley Cley and Cranwich.
The Ashwellthorpe co-ordinator can be found on 01508 489432 or [email protected]
Monday 29 March 2010 – The Toad Watch ferry patrol has finished for this year. Now the clocks have changed and dusk is nearer 8.00 p.m., the evening traffic rush-hour has finished before the toads and frogs start to move.
In fact, whilst in operation, the patrols started at about 6.30 p.m. and on some evenings went through until 9.30 p.m. In total numbers were few – 11 Toads, 4 Frogs and 1 Common Newt (with only 1 other toad lost to the traffic) were ferried across The Street to their breeding pond. There may well have been many more who, in nature’s way, made it across The Street by themselves! But, perhaps even this small “rescue” will enable the Ashwellthorpe Toad colony to enlarge next year.
An appeal for 2011 “Toad ferry patrollers” will be made in January 2011.
Friday 19 March 2010 – There were six patrollers this evening between 6.40 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. and frogs, toads and newts were carried across the road. Numbers will appear later.
The first Toad Crossing patrol took place this evening (Thursday 18 March 2010) between 6.30 p.m. and 8.00 p.m.; it was a mild evening and drizzly rain set in by about 7.15 p.m. – perfect conditions for the start of a mass migration of toads from Ashwellthorpe Street Wood to the breeding pond. Four “patrollers” met up with Mary Plage one of the Toad Watch co-ordinators who advised everyone on what to do and how to go about it. Up until 8.00 p.m. 3 TOADS and 1 FROG were ferried in buckets across The Street to the hedgerow/fence a few metres from the pond. If you want to volunteer to join one of these patrols, which should continue for about two to three weeks, please get in touch.
Toadwatch helps toads in several villages to reach their breeding ponds safely during the spring migration – there is information at www.toadwatch.org There are road warning signs in Ashwellthorpe where the toads are crossing from the woods to the pond, but no organised patrol has operated in recent years. Toads can live for 40 years and will return to their breeding pond every year. Toadwatch was asked by some villagers to explain how the patrols are organised in other villages. A meeting was held in Ashwellthorpe White Horse on Monday 8 February 2010 at 8.00 p.m.and people who wanted to help, signed up to create patrols once the first toad movements had been seen – it need only take an hour on a few evenings in March. As at 10 March 2010, no toad movemnts have been detected but the weather is still rather cold for them to have started their trek. Let us know if you see any.
The Toad Watch contact is John Heaser 01603 812472