Whether you’re in touch with nature or not, you can’t have failed to notice a marked improvement in the weather over the last week or so. As well as a general improvement in mood this has triggered the long-delayed migration of toads, frogs and newts to their breeding ponds.
What has this got to do with buckets?
Toads in particular are in decline. They’re fussy about where they breed, preferring deep ponds, and return to the same pond year after year. Unfortunately this means they often have to cross busy roads and, not being familiar with the Green Cross Code, many are killed. It’s a personal disaster for the toad and, at busy crossings, creates an awful mess (toad jam not being to everyone’s taste).
Little Melton has one such pond and in recent years a number of volunteers have turned out on warm, damp nights in spring to ferry toads, frogs and newts across the road in buckets. A couple of weeks later we ferry them back again. Somewhere in the middle it gets very confusing as we try to work out where they want to go!
Credit where it’s due
I can’t take the credit for this exercise – John Heaser was/is the driving force – but I do my bit. For the last couple of years I have organised the rota and this year we have extended to cover a crossing in the neighbouring village of Great Melton. John also manages a crossing at Bowthorpe and this year has started similar exercises in Costessey and Ashwellthorpe (although I don’t manage their rotas).
I also do my bit with torch and bucket. Just in case you’re wondering, they’re not slimy, but frogs can be difficult to pick up and often jump out of the bucket.
Does it make a difference?
So far this year the volunteers have helped 2252 toads, 253 frogs, 21 smooth newts and 24 great-crested newts across the five sites. We’ve lost a few, but there’s no more jam.
So, look out for the signs and the volunteers – we’re the ones out after dark in the rain with reflective jackets, torches and buckets. Many of our buckets appear to be making strange noises.
Thank you to all those drivers who slow down for us and particular thanks to those who stop and allow us to pick up beasties before they get run over.