Giving Nature a lift

Remember this? A picture taken by Bath Newseum regular Marian McNeir while out on a walk at Midford. She described seeing : ‘Four adult toads carrying young ones on their back across the old railway track and desperately trying to squeeze — with babies — through this wire fence. One even had two babies on its back.’

Marian’s encounter with the toads set in motion a big learning curve for her – and for me – when l published the image. We both now know these are lazy males hitching a ride to the amphibian’s traditional spawning grounds – a place they return to year after year.

Hitching a ride.

It also brought us both into contact with a group of volunteers called the Charlcombe Toad Rescue Group which was set up to help toads, frogs and newts along the route of their journey to the place where they will lay their eggs.

Tadpoles in the making!

In the Charlcombe area that means crossing a busy lane and dealing with obstacles like walls and fences, As you can imagine the mortality rate – with this journey usually carried out at night – has been high. That’s where the volunteers come in.

Marian’s email also resulted in the Charlcombe volunteers going to the Tucking Mill site – near Midford – and rescuing 44 toads in just one night!

This is a new area of concern and the rescue group are going to take a look to see whether fencing beside the cycle track or other new man-made obstacles are interfering with the migration route.

Our volunteers are a mixed bunch of people and don’t for one minute think they are all retired folk with time on their hands. One of their youngest members – whose family live on Charlcombe Lane – happens to be a senior pupil – and ‘Head Boy’ – at King Edward’s School in Bath.

His name is Guy Willcock and he was kind enough to do a Zoom chat with me to tell me more about why toads need rescuing.

Find out more about the Charlcombe Toad Rescue Group via:

@ToadRescue on Twitter

Toad Rescue – Charlcombe, Bath on Facebook

Charlcombe Toad Rescue (@toadrescue) on Instagram.

All images – apart from Marian McNeir’s photo – have been taken – with permission – from the rescue group’s social media.