By Charlotte Owen
The snowdrops are out and the birds are singing - spring is definitely on its way. We're starting to receive sightings of toads on the move as they begin their great spring migration. 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.
Every spring, thousands of toads leave their over-wintering sites and begin the long crawl back to their birthplace to try and reproduce. Migration can occur at any time between January and April but toads most commonly emerge at dusk after a spell of damp, mild weather. They are creatures of habit and will travel along the same migration routes every year, covering distances of up to two kilometres. But there's a problem - over time, these ancient migration routes have been obstructed by roads, housing estates and garden fences. Toads migrate at night and nothing will get in the way of their amorous intentions, even busy roads - it's estimated that a staggering twenty tonnes of toad are run over each year by cars that don't see them until it's too late.
Death on the roads, along with the loss of breeding ponds, is having a significant impact on the UK toad population, which has declined by 68% in the last 30 years. To help combat this, the charity Froglife set up the Toads on Roads project, which registers toad migratory crossings, puts up road signs to warn traffic and coordinates local volunteers to patrol the sites and help the toads cross the road safely. Click here to find your nearest toad crossing via the Froglife website. If you know of a crossing that hasn't yet got a toad patrol, please register it on the Toads on Roads website so that road signs can be displayed and volunteers can be mustered.