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Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Helpers needed to join toad patrols in Castle Cary
Common toad
Around five thousand toads migrate to a pond near Castle Cary to mate

Around 5,000 toads are set to begin their annual migration to their breeding pond in Castle Cary.

To help them along their way, toad patrols are being organised by Somerset Wildlife Trust from 19 February.

Around 25 volunteers are needed for a four week period during the evenings to carry them across in buckets of water.

The patrols run from sunset to around 10pm but will only run if the weather conditions are warm and slightly damp, but not too windy for travelling toads.

'Active breeding population'

The toad patrols have been taking place for the last four years.

Although the volunteers don't stop or direct traffic, signs are put up around Fulford crossroads at the bottom of Torbay Road in Castle Cary in order to warn motorists of the conservation work taking place.

Their efforts save around 1,200 toads, even though five times that amount undertake this perilous journey.

Dave Boyer, who organises the patrols, said: "We've got an active breeding population outside of Castle Cary but to get to this breeding area, which is a pond, they have to cross a fairly busy main road and unfortunately every year quite a few get squashed as they cross this road."

The toads unknowingly risk their lives to reach their natal ponds in order to mate.

"This Winter they've been hibernating virtually right the way through, so when temperatures start warming up they come out of hibernation and the first thing they think about is getting to their breeding pond and start mating.

"They travel up to one kilometre, even up to one and a half kilometres and they will start moving back to the pond they were born in - their natal pond.

"When the weather warms up and it's a little bit damp, they're perfect conditions for toads and they will all start this mass migration."

Dave is specifically asking anyone who lives in the vicinity of Castle Cary to contact him if they can help so they won't have to travel far to the toad crossing areas.

His phone number is 01963 350418 or boyer@orchard-farm.co.uk .

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