Help needed to see toads safely across the road in north Norfolk

How does the idea of hanging about outdoors on dark, wet nights appeal?

Not much? Fortunately for the wildlife in one part of north Norfolk, a dedicated band of toad patrollers is about to start making annual plans to do just that - and they could do with more help.

The group is due to meet next week to draw up a patrol rota aimed at cutting the toad carnage on a road at Thwaite Common, near Erpingham.

Patrollers have spent the past four years turning out with torches and buckets to rescue thousands of toads crawling their way from surrounding woodland and gardens, across the suicide strip of tarmac, to breed in four ponds on the common.

The mercy mission, which runs for about six weeks from the end of February, has saved thousands from 'croaking' under the wheels of traffic on the country lane.

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And the 20-strong team also records statistics including the numbers saved, corpses and weather conditions, feeding the information to national amphibian and reptile charity Froglife which is working to protect wildlife and find out why toad numbers are in decline.

Last year patrol members scooped up 1,662 common toads from the road and carried them to safety but organiser Stephen Burrell said their success depended on the number of people available to help at short notice when it was wet and warmer, stimulating the toads to migrate.

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'On dry, frosty nights nothing happens but get the right wet conditions and all hell lets loose. Then, if you shine a torch along the road you see a sea of toads going like bananas,' said Mr Burrell, who is on the committee of the Aylsham and District Wildlife Society.

? Anyone living locally who would like to help this year should ring Mr Burrell on 01263 768209 for information about the campaign meeting on January 27 at 8pm.

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