A volunteer toad patrol helping the warty amphibians cross a busy road near Farnham assisted a record 719 toads this year.

Founded in 2012 by the Bourne Conservation group, the annual early spring toad watch on Boundary Road, Rowledge helps toads safely cross the road to their ancestral breeding pond.

Throughout February and March, the group braved the dark, cold, wind and rain trying to help common toads reach their breeding grounds.

Toads on road
Toad making the crossing over the road to their breeding ground (Myung-Hye)

Volunteer Myung-Hye Chung spent every single night of this year’s Rowledge toad watch helping and rescuing the toads, so there was no better person to find toad number 500 and 501.

Myung–Hye said: “We go out every evening, embracing all kinds of foul and horrid weather to rescue toads, frogs and newts.”

The first big night the group had this year was fittingly Valentine's Day, when the team rescued 87 toads as well as a palmate newt which is rare for the team to see.

However, February 15, 2024, was a date the team will never forget as they found 113 toads and two frogs. Myung-Hye said: “It’s heartwarming and emotional, it’s romantic.”

Toad 500 and 501 in Amplexus
Toad 500 and 501 in Amplexus (Marcus McQuilton)

This year’s total is more than double that of last year’s, and the group predict that because of the warmer and wetter winters toads are making the trip to their breeding grounds earlier.

It also marks a welcome reversal on recent trends, after the number of toads helped by the group in 2022 was down 68 per cent on the year before.

It is important to return toads to their original breeding ground to avoid the spread of diseases and invasive plants. But it’s estimated 250,000 toads are killed by cars a year as they make their annual pilgrimage – hence the need for toad patrols across the UK.

Female toads are much bigger than the males as they carry the eggs as well as their male paramours, who latch onto the females and get carried over to reach the pond before mating – a process called amplexus.

Mating season is very competitive for males as there are fewer females, with those with the deepest croaks often winning the day.

Picture of a Female Toad
A female Common Toad (Bufo bufo)