Due to habitat loss, Natterjack Toad numbers have fallen by 75% over the last 100 years. The last national survey revealed that they were only present at around 60 sites in the UK. Around 50% of these toads are found in Cumbria and half again are found in the Duddon Estuary. Sandscale Haws is one of the best places to come and see this chirpy little fella!
Unlike the Common Toad, the Natterjack has a lovely yellow line down its back and a stunning golden iris in their eyes. Instead of jumping they run and the natterjack will actively pursue its prey. It is sometimes called the running toad.
Here at Sandscale, alongside their natural habitat, we have made artificial breeding pools. The water levels are controlled to provide the best conditions. It is in these areas that the males are heard calling, trying to entice the females over. The call can be heard up to a mile away on a still night and the males are regarded as the loudest amphibian in Europe.
The best time to go is at the end of April until mid June at dusk or just before. The right conditions are essential so try to pick a warm sunny day with very little wind. Light rain is also good.
From the free National Trust car park take the main boardwalk towards the beach. Take the first right turning which will bring you to two fenced off pools. You will need to be quiet and patient and of course nature can be unpredictable but with luck it won’t be long until you hear them.
As a European protected species, under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, schedule 2 and 5, it is an offence to capture, possess, disturb, kill, injure, or trade individuals of this species. It is also an offence to destroy the places they use for breeding or resting. Therefore we ask you to stick to the boardwalks, tread carefully (toads sometimes use boardwalks too) and to enjoy listening and watching these beautiful creatures. Please do not go off to look for toads in the dunes or enter any pools as this can cause disturbance.
For a more detailed look into the lives of our favourite beastie, keep your eyes peeled for details of our guided walks run each year.
Having looked across the Duddon Estuary to the lakeland fells for 3 years it was time to jump across and start working for the West Lakes team. It has been a big leap from a sand dune system but I'm getting stuck into the more practical side of "Rangering" and sharing my love of the ecological side of things with my new team. Hopefully I'll see you at our 50 things events here in Wasdale!?