Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

The Perfect Pond!

The Perfect Pond!

What a difference a year makes – this time last year we were in the middle of a heatwave clocking temperatures close to 30, and now, well the forecast says it’s at least 16 degrees outside but the rain is definitely making it feel cooler. The rain isn’t all bad however, in fact on the Sefton coast when saying the word rain it is customary for it to be preceded with “much needed”!

This is all because of the Natterjack toad. A fussy little species that likes its ponds just right – not too deep and not too shallow. But this is a difficult balance to find, especially when summers can vary as much as this from one year to the next. One of the challenges we face when creating new pools for Natterjack toads is to make them deep enough so they last long enough so that they don’t dry out before the toadlets emerge but also so that they aren’t too deep which would allow predators and competitors to take hold and have a negative impact on any Natterjack breeding.

That’s why, when we created a perfect pool in time for this summer, I thought it was worth writing about!

Back in February this year, Fiona (our project manager) and I had been getting ready to head out on survey when Frank (a regular volunteer for the project) turned up to ask whether he could do a bit of digging instead. There was a particular pool in the dunes that he thought, with a bit of attention, could be turned into the perfect pool.

The pool was once very good for Natterjacks but had recently become very overgrown with willows and Sea Buckthorn so Frank set about digging the scrub out and creating a small pool for the toads. At the end of what was an incredibly rainy day, Frank had done an excellent job and the pool was in much better condition.

Having seen what Frank had accomplished – I thought it would be a good idea to expand on his work and increase the size of the pool and tackle a little more of the surrounding scrub. After another day of digging with a small team of volunteers this time, the pool was much larger in size and probably larger than its original size, completely clear of vegetation and importantly just the right depth!


Before


After

In fact, we did such a great job that we saw hundreds of tiny Natterjack toadlets emerging from the pool. There is always a great sense of satisfaction when a lot of hard work from a good group of volunteers pays off!

   
Natterjack Toadlets

 

Andrew Hampson

Project Officer - Gems in the Dune

 

Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:

  • Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
  • Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
  • Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.

 

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