Hop to it: Could you be the next member of a toad patrol?

Carole Davidson, volunteer coordinater, from the West Runton toad patrol. Picture: Danielle Booden

Carole Davidson, volunteer coordinater, from the West Runton toad patrol. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Looking for a new hobby in 2021, which could also help the environment?

Then a call for volunteers to help toads dodge danger on their way to spawn could be the answer.  

West Runton Toad Patrol is calling for people to join its ranks and help ensure the safe passage of common toads during their annual migration to spawning grounds.

Carole Davidson, volunteer coordinater, from the West Runton toad patrol. Picture: Danielle Booden

Carole Davidson, volunteer coordinater, from the West Runton toad patrol. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

One of several patrol teams in north Norfolk, the West Runton patrol has helped save the lives of more than 2,000 toads over the past five years. 

Led by Carole Davidson, and armed with a bucket, torch and high viz jackets, patrol members go out in pairs to help toads avoid "carnage" on the roads come January and February when the annual migration begins.

Ms Davidson said although it is very weather dependent, toads usually start their migration on mild nights in January and February.

Carole Davidson, volunteer coordinater, from the West Runton toad patrol. Picture: Danielle Booden

Carole Davidson, volunteer coordinater, from the West Runton toad patrol. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

The 61-year-old, said: "Toads don't live in water they live in damp areas close to water and will move back towards a pond for spawning when the weather becomes mild.

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"I liken it to my youth when I used to go to discotheques, boys used to stand around the outside of the room waiting for the girls, the males are all hanging around the outside of the pond waiting for the females to arrive."

A common toad

West Runton Toad Patrol is appealing for volunteers to help save toads during the annual migration to spawning grounds. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ms Davidson said once the toads had spawned and had "done their business" they leave the pond and their "necklace-like" spawn behind to fend for itself. 

She said before the patrol was started, toads would often fall victims to cars on the village's roads: "It was carnage on a busy night because the toads haven't got a hope [on the roads], when it comes to toads, drivers either aren't aware, don't care or just don't see them."

West Runton toad patrol volunteers Martina and Keith Morrow (left), Pak Chan and Andy Parry (right)

West Runton toad patrol volunteers Martina and Keith Morrow (left), Pak Chan and Andy Parry (right) and volunteer coordinator Carole Davidson (middle). Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Despite now being an avid amphibian advocate, the retired accountant said she hadn't always felt that way.

"I've learnt to love it, I used to be scared of toads and I think it's because I saw the difference [the patrols make, that it changed], now I'm just a bit of a fanatic," she said.

Anyone interested in joining the patrol should contact Carole Davidson via Whatsapp on 07587 186975 or by emailing cgd1959@gmail.com.

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