Toad Patrol Update - April 2020

Our thanks to Toad Patrol leader Mike Slade for this report.

You may have seen the ‘Slow Down – toads crossing’ signs that have been displayed around the Lightlands Lane area for the last few months and are wondering why they appear every year. The reason is that toads instinctively return to where they were spawned every year to spawn themselves, and for many of the toads that habitat in the Cookham area, Strande Lake is that place.

Once they wake from their winter hibernation and start to feel warmer temperatures, the toads are inclined to make the move from the surrounding areas towards the lake. They are nocturnal so they move once it gets dark, which in this day and age has become quite hazardous with the road traffic in the area.

Cookham Toad Patrol was set up to assist the toads as they make their final push towards the lake and assure that as many as possible survive the local traffic in the area. You may well have seen patrollers in the area, after dark in early Spring, wearing hi-viz and carrying torches and buckets. What we do is to scan the area of Lightlands Lane, Bass Mead, Strande Lane and the cycle path alongside Strande Park, looking for toads who are in danger from road traffic and helping those that  we find into the lake to spawn.

We have a number of patrollers who keep the area monitored throughout the migration season  each night from dusk to late evening until road traffic has stopped for the night. Patrollers range from the very experienced, who have been saving toads for many years, to the children who take their parents out to help look. Special mention this year must go to Stan Leigh who showed remarkable commitment to the cause this year.

The signs have now been put away and this year’s season has come to an end; it was a difficult season due to prolonged low temperatures in the evening. The first toad rescue was on the 9th February and the last was 19th March. During this period the group rescued 183 toads (147 males and 36 females) and we only found 8 that had been killed on the road – so a great effort. These numbers have been reported to an organisation called Froglife that monitors the toad populations across the country and also maintains records for use in local planning application activities.

The numbers were a little down on previous years of 236 rescued last year and 378 in the year before that. A concerning trend but one that only enhances the importance of the work we do – a female toad rescued to the lake represents 4000-5000 eggs and a major contribution to the continuation of the local toad population.

We are always looking for more patrollers and if you would like to get involved for the 2021 season please contact Mike on 07930 943190 to be added to the list.

The first toad rescued this year by Heidi and her children

In safe hands

Midge with a rescued toad

Will someone please save me?

via Wild Maidenhead

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