The Friends of Haddon Wood

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Good News for Toads!

Posted by Dave Boyer (local toad patrol coordinator, Reptile and Amphibian Group for Somerset) to Castle Cary Real News on 5th April 2020…

Toad patrol a fantastic success – finally, a good news story in these trying times!

Hundreds of toads have been helped to cross a busy local road by a group of volunteers and have now bred successfully in a wildlife pond at Haddon Wood.

In early February a lorry driver, doing the night shift for Barbers Cheesemakers at Ditcheat, noticed masses of toads crossing the road near the Cary Rugby Club, and many were being squashed by passing vehicles. She contacted the Reptile and Amphibian Group for Somerset who in turn contacted me, a local toad patrol coordinator.

With the help of the Friends of Haddon Wood and local Somerset Wildlife Trust members a toad patrol was operating within 48 hours.

Over the next five weeks 31 volunteers took turns to patrol a 400 m stretch of the Brooke House Inn to Ditcheat road at Haddon Wood, on any evening when the weather was toad-friendly – wet and warm. Volunteers would don hi-viz jackets and gloves, and patrol the road with bright torches and a bucket, picking up any toads crossing the road and moving them into the safety of Haddon Wood.

These toads would have all hatched over the previous few years in the pond at Haddon Wood and now, with spring approaching, they were returning to their natal pond to breed.

In total 435 toads were helped across the road, along with three great crested newts and eight other newts, most probably common newts. Unfortunately 48 toads were also found squashed (a 10% loss is typical for many patrolled toad crossings). The migration across the road had already started when the patrols started so we do not know the true number of toads that crossed, or were killed. Of course the patrols were only active until 22h30 when fewer vehicles were on the road and many more toads would have crossed after this.

By mid-March the pond was inundated with toad-spawn, and some frog-spawn, testament to the success of the patrols.