Author Jess Price
The snowdrops are out and birds are singing, spring is definitely on its way. Soon to follow will be the great migration of common toads. Toads spend the majority of their lives on land, under rocks, in compost heaps and in vegetable patches. But like all amphibians they must return to water to breed.
Common toads favour large deep ponds with areas of clear water such as farm ponds, reservoirs, fish ponds or village ponds. They also tend to return to their ancestral breeding ponds, travelling along the same routes every year.
They may be small, but toads can move, sometimes over two km to get to a preferred breeding pond. However unfortunately over the years, barriers and obstacles such as roads, housing estates and garden fences have been built across their path. Toads migrate at night and nothing will get in the way of their amorous intentions, even busy roads. Sadly this means that scores of toads are run over every year by cars that donít see them until itís too late.
As part of the Arun and Rother Connections (ARC) project, the Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group are trying to find out where the toad migratory routes are within the project area and if toads are being killed on roads. Over three years, we aim to try to reduce the number of road casualties occurring every spring by mapping the crossing and introducing road signs and toad patrols. We need your help and would love to hear from anyone who knows of a toad crossing point or sees one in the next few months.
Youíll definitely know a crossing if you see one - the road is likely to be covered in dead toads that have been squashed. . Please do let the Sussex Amphibian and Reptile group know if you find a crossing, you can fill in their online form. I would also appreciate toad records from anywhere in Sussex, especially if you come across a breeding pond. The easiest way to get the information to us is by filling in our species recording form. You can also contact me directly via the WildCall email and phone number.
Migration can occur anytime between January and April, but toads most commonly emerge at dusk after a spell of damp, warmish weather. So next time there is some warm spring rain keep your eyes peeled, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation website can help you with toad identification.