This is my sixth year counting natterjack toads on the North Wales coast and I’m pleased to say that after a poor first night this year, the second night’s count was excellent with over 60 toads across all participating teams 😀 I’ve also heard that the count at the Cheshire site was very good, so it certainly looks as though the reintroduced populations are all doing well. Happy news in a world of sad extinctions.
I think the weather makes a big difference to the counts, but when you need lots of people to participate, it’s difficult to go out on an ad hoc basis. The first night we counted this year was rather cold and windy, and we saw less than five natterjack toads. The second night was warm and wet and we cooked in our waterproofs walking round the site, but it was worth it to see over 40 natterjacks personally and to hear of the successful count all round.
On the second night we had been tasked by Chester Zoo to take buccal swabs of any natterjacks we found to assist them with their research project. The swabs will be analysed for DNA and we hope this will tell us about the health of the reintroduced populations, all of which originate from the Sefton Coast population. I’ve never had a buccal swab personally, but it’s basically having a cotton bud rubbed round the inside of your mouth, which is about as pleasant as it sounds. I hope the toads thought it was worth a little bit of indignity to be part of an important scientific study. Here’s one doing its best to escape without being measured…..
Photographed under licence for educational purposes.