Volunteers rescued hundreds of toads

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IT’S a numbers game, and a remarkable wildlife migration story has been unfolding at a local dam in Cirnholme over the past few weeks.

In it a small dedicated team of volunteers have rescued hundreds of toads who are at risk as they make their annual migration along a route which included a stretch of road.

The team have rescued bucket-loads of the amphibians who would otherwise have been flattened along a cart track near their spawning grounds at the fishing dam at Portsmouth, out on the Burnley Road.

A spokesperson for the volunteers said the toads travel from up to a mile away, across meadowns, over railway lines and up roads to reach the pond - and although there are other upper valley migrations which have been monitored, this is the first year these particular ones have been officially recorded, she said.

“We couldn’t believe how many we were finding and we eventually reached the amazing figure of near on 700,” she said, adding that this is the largest population of toads known localloy.

Another site at Lumbutts, near the Top Brink, regularly logs between 400 and 500 and sometimes more.

Other sites in the upper valley also have vulnerable toads and are beeding volunteers - they usually need to be “night owls” as migration only begins after dusk and usually in warm, wet conditions.

Nationally, Froglife co-ordinates “Todas-on-Roads” rescues across the country, with the local scheme having ten sites, including Hebden Bridge and Halifax.

The spokesperson said: “For those unsure of the difference between a frog and a toad, toads were more rounded with drier, knobbly skin, and tend to crawl more than jump.

“They are more vulnerable to cold than frogs and so use the heat of the roads warmed up in the day to help them on their way.

Anyone wishing to help next year (from the end of February onwards) can contact the local group on 01706 816698 or Calderdale Countryside Service on 01422 886371, or log on to calderdale-wildlife.blogspot, where other news is also available.