A Toad Patrol is a group of volunteers who monitor a stretch of road that toads have to cross to reach their breeding pond in the spring.
How do I patrol a toad crossing?
If the road is not too dangerous a Toad Patrol may be possible. Your safety is the primary concern, so if the road is busy or has poor visibility, do not attempt to rescue any toads. If you plan to patrol, always wear reflective clothing and carry a torch. Patrolling itself is quite simple – it’s just a case of collecting the toads from one side of the road and transporting them to the other side in a bucket. Toads tend to start moving around dusk and will continue into the night, depending on how cold it gets; you only really need to patrol during the first part of the evening when there is a high likelihood of them encountering traffic.
When should I patrol?
Toads can emerge from hibernation any time from January onwards, depending on local weather conditions; they tend to emerge a little later than frogs. Amphibian movements are very dependent on weather so it’s crucial to check local forecasts; key signs to look out for are: first mild temperatures (>5’C), together with rain. When these conditions have been identified it’s a good idea to start monitoring the site – if you can, check the site every evening but, otherwise, at least during/after appropriate patches of weather. Most Patrols find it easiest to have one person coordinating who can draw up a rota. Not all volunteers have to be out all the time; if a Patroller discovers a particularly busy crossing one night they can then call on reinforcements.
Why should I record data?
We ask Toad Patrollers to record the numbers of toads and other amphibians they help across the road, how many they see killed, the number of days patrolled and the number of Patrollers patrolling
This data feeds into national monitoring projects and helps us determine how the UK’s toad population is faring as a whole and can give a good idea of how successfully Patrols are helping local populations. The data does not always provide an accurate view – there can be various other influences on toad numbers, such as the weather causing them to move later at night when they’re not seen – but it’s certainly a good starting point.
We always encourage data returns each year as Froglife has been asked by local planners and authorities about the importance of particular crossings. Without accurate yearly data, we can only advise them of the presence of a crossing.