Sunday, 8 March 2015

Breaking News.....The Annual Toad Migration Has Begun And We've Been Out On Toad Watch Tonight

Every year from February onwards I keep my ears pinned back for the sound of our Toads singing. I often wake in the night and listen to them. They don't go 'ribbit' as people think, they make a soft cooing sound which is so gentle to listen to it often acts as a lullaby and sends me softly back to sleep. Its a sort-of 'Coooo' or 'Boooo'.

If I don't hear them singing first, the first sign that the migration is on is sadly dead toads on our lane, run over by cars in the night. We make signs and put them at either end of the lane warning drivers that they're there and asking them to slow down and every night for as long as the migration lasts we go out on Toad Watch, patrolling the lane with head torches on and escorting our amphibian friends safely across the lane and into the stream.

I love them. I can't bear seeing them hurt. Tonight is the second night of the migration and we found some very badly injured but not dead on the lane, which was utterly heart-breaking. M, who was brought up on a farm, is much better at dealing with sick animals than me. He takes no pleasure in it but he will dispatch them quickly. I wish I were better at it- I consider it a failing on my part.

Fortunately, there were plenty alive to carry across the lane and put gently on the bank or in the stream. There were frogs too- just two of them, having a lovely mate (as L used to call it when he was little enough to still want to come on Toad Watch). I felt rather intrusive picking them up while they were otherwise engaged and putting them in some shallow water, but needs must and at least I know they are safe. One of the Toads even sang to me when I put him down in a safe place- that's never happened before and it was rather magical. Others clung on to me and didn't want to get off even when the water of the stream was slipping over my fingers.


Before you all ask me in the comments, there is a school of thought that says Toad skin can be irritated by the salt in human skin, and ordinarily I wear gloves when I handle them, just in case, but I forgot tonight and they weren't in my hands for long and I figure better safe in the water than dead on the road.

Tomorrow, I will register our migration with Froglife, who run an annual campaign to raise awareness of the Toad Migration- you can find details here. Hopefully, we might get some proper signs from the council on the strength of that to warn drivers.


Toads are very strongly migrational and return to the pond they were born in. They have a strong ancentral pull and this instinct means toad migration routes can be hundreds, or indeed thousands, of years old. They have usually existed long before lanes and houses came along to disrupt the route and this is why so many are killed on the road each year, You find them all over the UK but their numbers are declining. They migrate in large groups. Toads spend the winter burrowed down in deep mud, compost heaps or wood piles. They don't hibernate and will pop out on a mild day to forage for food. They crawl rather than hop (as per frogs) and have characteristic warty skin without the 'Adam and the Ants' black stripe behind the eyes that froggy people have. They are nocturnal.

If you have any water near you now is the time to pop out and check your local vicinity for them. Stand still and quiet and listen for the soft cooing- that's often the first sign that you have toads nearby. If you do find some, please log your sighting with Froglife- these little chap and chapesses need our help :o)


I'll be back tomorrow with Moth Updates as the lamp is lit and the moth box is beaming away in the garden as I type.

Hope everyone is well, and don't forget to check for toads!

CT :o)

ps- If you're reading this outside the UK, please check first about your local toads as some can be poisonous. The Common Toad here in the UK isn't, although as Ted will tell you if you are foolish enough to lick them they can make you feel sick and froth at the mouth :o)

22 comments:

  1. Well done you for looking after the toads. We have them here, but I've only ever seen them one at a time.

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    1. Thanks Jess. I am inordinately fond of Toads :o)

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  2. Well done for helping them, it's a very worthwhile thing to do. I had one at the allotment when I first had it, it's right next to a stream. I'm making a note not to lick them. CJ xx

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    1. I wish Ted would remember not to lick them. On average, twice a year he comes in looking guilty and miserable and unwell and we all know what he's been up to. I have a quiet word but apparently Toads are irresistible xx

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  3. At my old house, I had a backyard pond and several bullfrogs came to live there. The next spring there were hundreds of tadpoles & they grew into tiny frogs. One afternoon, as the sun was going down, I was sitting beside the pond enjoying it. All of a sudden, the tiny frogs got out of the pond and hopped away through the grass! A few stayed behind but most left. It was sad but pretty cool to have been there at that at exact moment.

    Shortly after my frogs came to live there, I realized they all had different "voices". I loved listening to them.

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    1. Did they come back? Frogs are also quite loyal to their ponds and the little ones do have a period of time out of the water, just as Toads do, although Toads spend longer periods of time out of it than frogs. I love their singing- could listen to it for hours :o)

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  4. I forgot to add that I just discovered your blog & I loved reading about your toad adventure!

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    1. Thanks Annabelle- glad you enjoyed it :o)

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  5. Oh you are so good to help the Toads across the road safely. Looking forward to see some Moths.

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    1. Thank you Margaret. Hope all's well with you :o)

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  6. You are doing a good job wish I was there to help. We had a Toad in the front garden this week sadly gone before I got home. Next door used to have a pond many years ago, were they would breed. This Toad would have been born else where but there still is a strong pull back to the gardens on the street...
    Amanda xx

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    1. It would be great if we lived near enough for you to pop round and help. I feel a mixture of pleasure at seeing them and concern for their welfare at this time of year. Hopefully your toad will be back xx

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  7. Well, this was a pretty cool post. I have never seen a frog or toad migration. Bless you for the signs, helping the injured and doing what had to be done to get as many as possible to the safe side of the road. Kudos to you Kiddo n your mates.

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    1. It is quite a sight. We've noticed how the numbers have dropped in the eight years we've been here though so they really need all the help they can get. I dread the sound of cars at night at this time of the year :o( Before you know it I will be marshalling drivers along other routes! x

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  8. Well done for helping them - such a worthwhile thing to do. I haven't seen a toad in our garden for years although we do have lots of frogs and newts! Look forward to seeing what moths you have trapped.

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    1. I'm about to go and put the signs out :o)

      Newts moved in to our pond last year and this weekend while trying to clear out some of the gunk from the winter I inadvertently also scooped up a rather cross dragonfly nymph! Great to know life is still in there and doing well.

      About to do the moth box now...I know there's an Oak Beauty in there, which I'm thrilled about! :o)

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  9. Keep up the good work!
    We get 'spring peepers' ...the noise is deafening,magical ,and wonderful. It's the sound of life, and the hope of more to come.
    Jane x

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    1. I always think the daffodils blooming, woodpeckers drilling and toads singing are the signs of spring arriving. Bet you can't wait for all that snow to shift! x

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  10. Do you suppose the intervention will make toads evolve to accept the help - and future generations will wait to be escorted? It is such a strong urge in them isn't it? Badgers of course suffer the same problem with their ancient routes being built up and motorwayed over. When I was young I searched out toads and held them in my hands as often as possible, as I was told toad's urine cured warts (and I had one).

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  11. Wonderful that you are helping the toads :o) I miss having frogs and toads in the garden.. I hope each year that they will return :o(

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  12. It is a good job that they have you to rescue them. A good job too that they are not relying on me - another thing I am scared of! xx

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  13. The toads are back in our pond today. They weren't yesterday, so must have got here last night. I get very excited about it every year. I think it's fab that you escort the toads across the road. Have you ever read Superworm by Julia Donaldson? He helps toads too.
    Leanne xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x