This is the second year that I have assisted with natterjack toad surveys on land owned by BHP Billiton at Talacre, Flintshire. We began with a training session on natterjack toad identification and ecology led by amphibian expert John Buckley of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. Then we waited until dark and headed into the dunes where we were greeted by the sound of male natterjack toads calling.
Our mission was to use torches to find natterjack and common toads and collect them – the natterjacks to be counted and measured, and the common toads to be taken off site. Common toads are more successful at breeding than natterjacks, so tend to outcompete them, and it is standard practice at natterjack toad conservation sites to remove common toads for this reason.
On my first visit of the year, we were slightly disappointed to find quite low numbers of natterjacks at the ponds checked – only ten or eleven at the pond I went to, and all males – but on my second visit of the year, the breeding season had definitely started with over 40 toads in one pond alone ! By this time a few females had arrived at the ponds and were obviously keen to get going, as I think every female I found was already part of a mated pair…. On my third and final visit of the year, I didn’t have quite as much success but my group still found 18 toads out of a total of 110 captured, weighed and measured on the night.
Visit North East Wales Biodiversity Network on Facebook to see some photos from the night counts.
Thanks to Kim Norman at BHP Billiton for leading the sessions.