Country diary: frustrated toads could do with a helping hand


Buxton, Derbyshire: A two-metre wall is the most obvious obstacle to mating. But at least we can do something about that

Much as I love toad breeding season for the way it brings thousands to Lightwood’s ponds, it’s actually a dangerous time for them. For seven evenings a friend’s daily exercise involved patrolling a stretch of river with a bucket to retrieve trapped toads. This year we estimate that he, with minor contributions from others, including me, has saved 1,100.

The problem is that toads arriving from the north and west are channelled, before they reach the spawning ground, into a stone-lined culvert that contains the flow of Hogshaw Brook. They are then blocked by a two-metre wall and are doomed, unless they can find a way over. One route for 30 of them was in the pockets of my smock, after which I released them on the lip of the water – a moment that felt wonderful for the old toad in my soul.

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