Friday, March 16, 2012

grenouilles et crapauds

Brendan and Siobhan joined a frog and toad protection team! Here's Brendan standing beside the sign just outside our house as we headed out on an amphibian rescue mission.

Each year in the spring, frogs and toads travel down off the hill at the end of our street, across a busy road, through gardens, across a farm road and finally reach a little pond in the woods where they spawn before heading back up the hill. Ordinarily many of them are killed on the road, so a team of volunteers, lead by a lovely lady called Katia who works for the local council, walks up and down the road for a couple of hours after sunset to help them across safely.

We were asked to come along by our local friends who have done this a few years running. We had to wear a safety vest and bring a torch and a bucket. As we walked along we could hear movement in the bushes but, given Brendan's inability to stay quiet for more than about 2 seconds, they were a bit hard to find at the beginning. Once we had a few gathered, Katia showed us where to go to realease them.

Between the four of us, two kids and two parents, we found 12 and then another two on the way home which we just helped across the road. Katia was counting and the total for the evening was over 80 individuals and 20 pairs, mostly toads and some frogs. That's 120 frogs and toads helped across the road in under two hours.

Those already paired up were all toads- each a large female, fat with eggs, with a much smaller male clinging onto her back. We were told to try and keep them together. She showed us how the male will kick out and shout at you if you touch him, thinking that your hand is a rival.
Here's Brendan releasing some on the far side of the farm road, leaving them to cover the last 30 yards or so on their own again. This was a lovely moment, but all in all it was an experience with mixed emotions, for me at least. We talked a bit about how humans disturb natural migrations like this but we mostly focussed on the good- how cool it is to save a frog from being squashed!
We can't go tomorrow because we have friends coming over in the evening but we may go on Sunday night. Katia said she'll bring some info leaflets- about the migration and how to tell the frogs from the toads and the females from the males. And apparently if it rains during the day the numbers should be bigger. So we're hoping for some rain on Sunday, but not too much!

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