A rare amphibian thrives at The Lodge

Natterjack toad
Natterjack toad

At the RSPB HQ in Sandy, one rare creature has been thriving – and it’s not a bird.

Rare natterjack toads have responded to the creation of a new breeding habitat and have produced double the amount of spawn they did last year, making this one of the most productive seasons for natterjacks this century.

Last year, new ponds were created at the nature reserve with support from Tesco and a private donor, while volunteers helped to improve others to provide better breeding habitat - efforts that have helped natterjacks re-introduced to the site in the 1980s to thrive.

Reserve warden Lizzie Brucesaid: “This year we have counted 78 natterjack strings- the name for the lines of spawn that we can see in the ponds. Last year there were a total of 49 strings, so the new ponds are really proving their value. Some of the young toads have even been seen in the daytime, as they emerge from the pools.”

Natterjacks are smaller than their cousins the common toad and can be identified by the distinctive yellow stripe which runs along their back. Being nocturnal, they are usually heard more than they are seen and their mating calls can be heard from over a kilometre away. During the daytime, the toads rest up in their burrows or underneath objects lying on the ground, emerging after dark to scurry about hunting beetles and other insects that comprise their main prey.