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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Toad Patrol Round-up

We have had 3 nights of definite toad movement on the roads, 10th,11th & 12th March.

On the 9th I had 4 new volunteers, but only 2 could turn up on 10th, and I was on my own on 11th.


We could do with some people who could patrol several nights, maybe alternating at sites to give people a night off.

WASHER LANE This once massive colony has now disappeared due to firstly to the Copley Data Centre being built, then dams being drained and built over. No toads sighted this year so far.

BOULDERCLOUGH DAM  10th - 64 toads (a few couples in amplex) 6 dead toads and one Palmate newt, several frogs.  11th - 30 toads including 7 pairs in amplexus. Several frogs and a fabulous frog chorus in the rain from the bottom little pond.

COPLEY NEW ROAD   10th - first sighting of toads on this new road, though I had predicted to Hugh Firman the Conservation Officer that there would be a crossing. There was always a lot on the track that used to be there.

10th - 9 toads moved from the Copley new road, 23 squashed. Four males in the nearby pond. Snag with this crossing is that toads are going both ways. On 11th I moved 6 couples in amplexus, 8 singles and 4 dead.  There was one big fat Palmate newt. This new road is very dangerous with a risk of speeders; one guy has already written his car off, and the lamp post he hit. Hi-viz gear is most advisable, and preferably at least two patrollers so as a team they can alert each other and oncoming cars to people in the road.

On 12th there were 2 patrollers at each of the two sites mentioned above. Not got the count for Boulderclough Dam yet but at COPLEY NEW ROAD we had 24 toads including 2 pairs in amplexus, and 12 dead, Six Palmate Newts were picked up from the road. THE TRAGEDIES of this road are that when amphibians go onto it, they can never get off; the kerbs are too high and smooth for them to climb. So they go wandering along looking for a way up till the fall down the gullies. Each of about five of these I looked at had several toads and newts in the filthy water. I don't know if they are trapped, or can find their way out through the drainage system. If they did so, they would be well off course for their breeding pond.

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Timings - movement starts at dusk, currently about 6.30. You can stay as long or as little as you like. I did 1 hour 15 mins in the rain on Saturday at Boulderclough, and after an hour off to do my weekly shop, just 15 mins at Copley New Rd.

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An observation on scavengers of the dead toads: I have wondered who or what clears up the dead toads we see during an evening. (They have mostly gone when we return on the next day.) I was passing the Copley New Road toad crossing this morning (12th) and saw a crow picking one up. There may be others that take advantage.

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A heart-warming story from Gordon at Lumbutts via Annie:                                                                          
"Something to cheer you all up; I had an email from Gordon (who doesn't' do Facebook) about his experience on Saturday night and I asked his permission to put this paragraph on our page. So beautiful. " But the best act of kindness, which I felt quite moved by was when a convoy of cars were driving down into the village from the direction of the'Brink, when the leading car suddenly pulled up in the centre of the road completely blocking it in both directions. The driver, who was all dressed in his Saturday best, walked to the front and with the help from his headlights carefully picked up 'A Mating Pair' has he called it. He then walked back up the road, past all the waiting cars and met me before carefully placing his charges into my bucket. By this time traffic was coming down from the opposite direction and quite a holdup was being created but not a single car used their horn, instead they all sat patiently as the rescue unfolded. It took a good few minutes to untangle the resulting snarl up during which time I thanked everyone for their patience. Quite wonderful". 😊😊😊

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