After a few short preliminary patrols towards the end of February 2015, this year’s Toad Watch patrols started in earnest on Friday 6 March and finally finished on Saturday 11 April, with twenty-four volunteers coming forward to ferry toads across the main road through Ashwellthorpe. The toads migrate from their year-round habitat in Ashwellthorpe Upper Wood to their breeding pond on the other side of The Street, near the end of Greenwood Close. The patrols consist of two people armed with hi-vis jackets, torches and buckets to put the toads (frogs and newts) in, to take them to safety across the road to avoid the amphibians becoming a roadkill statistic.
The number of toads (89) was a 67% increase over last year (53); this year’s frog count was 24 – a 100% increase over the 12 ferried in 2014 and 6 newts were helped this year compared with zero last year. There were, unfortunately, 5 toads and 3 frogs as roadkill this year along with 3 unknown, compared with 9 toads and 3 frogs last year. The first year the “new” patrols started in 2010, 11 toads and 4 frogs were helped, so it is good news that the Ashwellthorpe Toad patrollers have helped so many more across the road this year.
Once again this year, the weather was not quite right for the toads to want to move all the way from the wood to their breeding pond with the weather being often too dry when warm enough and too cold when damp enough! Patrols were arranged slightly differently this year, paying heed to the BBC Norwich 5 day weather forecast and not arranging patrols when the temperature was going to be below 5C at the time of the first patrol of the evening. At the beginning of the patrol period, the start for the volunteers is at 6.30 p.m. through to 8.30 p.m. and, gradually as the daylight hours increase, start later so that by the end of the toads’ breeding period, the times are 7.45 p.m. through to about 9.00 p.m.
Thanks to all twenty-four patrollers which included six children this year.