DRIVERS in Ringwood at rush hour are being urged to slow down to avoid the toads who are crossing the road a month early.
With the seasons going topsy-turvy, an early spring is bad news for the amphibians who cross Gorley Road to reach the gravel lakes. Teresa Baker, who has organised Ringwood Toad Patrol for the last 27 years, told the Forest Journal that toads migrate to reach their spawning ground at dusk when the temperatures turn to 6C or above, usually at the end of February from 6pm. But perfect breeding temperatures mean toads are crossing the road an hour early, hitting rush hour traffic and running the risk of an unnatural death.
“The toads are crossing the road four weeks early. We are urging motorists to slow down and be patient. We will stop the traffic to pick up a toad if we see one. Toads have an important role to play in our eco-system. We are doing our bit in securing the next generation of these highly vulnerable species. The roads are very busy and often it is mayhem on Gorley Road between 5pm and 6pm. So please, if the motorists could be wary when the patrol is out, the patrol would be very grateful.”
In just one week of operating this year, the toad patrol has already picked up 400 toads. They usually pick up between 1,000 and 1,400 toads each year, however over the last few years the numbers have been in sharp decline.
- Britain has two native species of toad, the common and the natterjack, which has a yellow line down its back.
- The common toad (bufo bufo) is widespread, but natterjacks, which used to be common on heathlands in the south, are now found mainly in East Anglia and the north west.
- Frogs are smooth, spend most of their lives in or near water, and leap; while toads have dry, warty-looking skin, live on land and crawl.
- Toads usually hibernate from October to March and migrate to breeding ponds, ideally on warm, damp nights.
- Males are smaller than females and several at a time may cling on to the female’s back to try and fertilise her eggs.
- Toad spawn is laid in long strings, anchored around pond weed
- Toads eat pests such as slugs and can be encouraged into the garden by not using pellets; and by having a pond, a compost heap, dry stone walls or a pile of stone, and untidy hedge bottoms.
- In the last 50 years, three-quarters of British ponds have disappeared.
17th February 2016 Courtesy Salisbury Journal