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Save our Toads!

Sheila Armstrong

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Buxworth Canal Basin Common Toads New Road Station Road Brookside Froglife Buxworth Toad Patrol Mark Day Louise Neilson Dale Neilson

A LOCAL group is appealing for volunteers to help them save migrating toads from being run over as they make their way to their spring breeding grounds in Buxworth Canal Basin.

For six weeks from March to April, the Common Toads emerge from their winter hibernation sites and travel to their ancestral breeding grounds. They follow the same route each year, which means many of them crossing New Road, Station Road and Brookside, where they are at risk of being squashed by vehicles.

Common Toads were once widespread in the UK but a recent survey, by national wildlife charity Froglife and the University of Zurich, has shown that on average their numbers have declined by 68% over the last 30 years, mainly due to loss of habitat, predators and road kill.

To save as many local amphibians as possible, members of Buxworth Toad Patrol go out at dusk and pick up any toads that are on the road and carry them in buckets down to the canal basin where they are counted and released.

Organiser Mark Day said: "2017 was the best year we have ever had, thanks to the fact that we had more volunteers. Altogether we saved 380 toads, a record for us."

Louise Neilson and her husband Dale joined the group after they moved to the area and wanted to get involved in the local community. This spring will be their third season and Louise said: "We had never done anything like this before. We turned up and had an induction with Mark and then started going out with an experienced volunteer. You have an area of road to patrol."

Contrary to popular opinion the Common Toads' skin is not slimy but dry and they tend to crawl rather than hop. Once caught in the beam of a torch they freeze which makes it easy to pick them up.

Mark, who has been rescuing toads for six years, said: "If the weather has been dry and then becomes warm and wet you can be fairly certain they will come out."

Once the toads start moving, usually around the end of February or beginning of March, volunteers need to be available to do two or three hours a night for six weeks.

Toad Patrol

Mark said: "Ideally we would like four people on patrol each night which we didn't quite manage last year. On the busiest nights though it would take eight people to cover the area effectively. The more volunteers we have means that I can plan a rota so that if the toads are crossing we can have people there every night."

He added: "All we ask is that people let us know how many times a week they can be involved and I'll work them into the rota. You'll need a bucket, a torch and something hi-viz and we'll show you the ropes."

Anyone wanting to help or get more information on this year's Toad Patrol should email Mark at