- Conserve through study and direct action, the native reptiles and amphibians of Jersey.
- Collect and collate herpetofauna records.
- Provide general advice on native reptiles and amphibians and their habitat management.
- Raise awareness amongst the general public.
Many people have never seen a lizard or a snake and would not know where to see one; yet with simple guidance, the experience could be brought to many people, whilst overcoming the negative perceptions that often hamper conservation efforts.
It was so dry for so long that we were very concerned that conditions would never be right for the toads to make their way to their breeding ponds. However we made our first patrol at Grand Vaux reservoir this year on 23rd February and were successful in saving a handful of toads (together with some newts) from the perils of the road. We continued our patrol at St Ouen’s Bay and although we found very few toads there too, we were pleased to be able to help a few here to safety.
We then waited for another suitable night…. and we waited…and we waited……the rain never seemed to come and so we decided to try another tack this year. Two of our keen Toadwatchers agreed to take responsibility for watching the roads in their area and reporting back to us on their findings. This seemed to be more sensible given the conditions - rather than a large group of us turning out to one area we were able to cover more areas on a regular basis. However we received no reports of large numbers of toads moving en masse nor of huge numbers killed on the roads and we just have to hope that they made their way to their ponds and back quietly and safely when we were not watching!
The strange season weather-wise also resulted in fewer reports of sightings of toads than normal but the reports we did receive have all been logged and we will be able to monitor trends each season.
We will be out and about again in 2012 looking for toads and hoping to hear lots of reports from the people of Jersey again then.
Agile Frog Summary of 2011 Breeding Season
Monitoring of the 2011 breeding season began on the 3rd February in relatively mild weather conditions with good levels of standing water across the sites. For the third year running spawning had begun by the 2nd week of February and continued for a further 5-6 weeks. The bulk of the spawn was laid in the first 3 weeks in relatively shallow areas of water and by the end of March significant numbers had hatched or were close to hatching. In total the numbers of spawn clumps laid was 116 and although slightly down on 2010, it is still very high in the context of recent years.
Unfortunately the late winter and early spring became one of the driest for many years and as a consequence water levels fell rapidly across all sites. As a result of the dry conditions and falling water levels many spawn clumps were either transferred to Durrell as part of the head-starting and dietary investigation program* or had to be moved in situ to deeper water and subjected to netting and bagging.
Whilst studies conducted in 2009 (Jameson.A.) demonstrated no significant effects on emergent populations by such disturbance there may well be un-quantified knock-on effects on this years in situ population from such rapidly falling water levels in terms of habitat conditions and available food sources.
It may be too early to make a connection between changes in climate and a seasonal shift in weather conditions. However if the last two consecutive dry springs become a more prolonged and enhanced feature of our weather then it may seriously threaten the development of tadpoles to full term and the recently improving status of the agile frog in Jersey.
As in 2010 the abundance and distribution in the sightings of agile frogs and spawn clumps across sites continues to be encouraging. This observation is particularly pronounced at Ouaisne and makes it all the more important to identify and mitigate against threats to the sites from surrounding development, pollution, changing land use and infection. A significant development this year was the discovery of a single spawn clump at Woodbine Corner. Often cited as a potential breeding site by virtue of it’s connectivity to Ouaisne, there have been difficulties in the past with providing suitable habitat and ensuring appropriate water quality. Both issues are being addressed and head-started adults have been released on site over the last few seasons.
These management activities continue on all sites targeting both species specific objectives (not just the agile frog) and habitat condition objectives. This may well be the catalyst for increasing distribution of the agile frog on sites. The ongoing objective is now to expand the range to other satellite sites and look to establishing (if possible) some degree of connectivity between them. As discussed earlier Woodbine Corner has been identified as a potential long-term site. In addition a pond constructed in 2009 at Les Creux is also a potential site. Regular water testing and management works are already in progress and with amphibians present on both sites (including agile frogs at Woodbine Corner) these areas will remain a focus of the Program.
Toadwatch 2011 - we need your help!
Members of Jersey’s Toadwatch Campaign are making their annual call for the public to be vigilant as the breeding season for the Island’s not-so common toad Bufo bufo begins.
Over the next few months, the Toadwatch Campaign is once again asking members of the public to send in records and reports of toad, tadpole and toad spawn sightings in and around their gardens and ponds.
Importantly, the campaign is also aiming to identify those ponds that no longer contain any signs of toads. By studying ponds over a period of time, vital information can be gained on the distribution and movement of amphibians in Jersey.
The States of Jersey Environment Department, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Jersey Amphibian & Reptile Group (JARG) have collaborated for a number of years towards the conservation of Jersey’s only toad. The Toadwatch Campaign has been running for the past six years and Islanders’ records have helped build an accurate picture of where the toads are breeding.
The ‘Toads on Roads’ Campaign will also be running again this year. Last year well over 100 toads were saved from the busy roads at two Island sites, one in St Ouen and the other in Grands Vaux. This year it is hoped to broaden the scope of the teams’ efforts to cover more wet and mild nights and to man additional crossing black spots. Toads on Roads is essentially a road-crossing patrol or ‘lollipop men/women’ service for toads! One of the biggest concerns for the group is the loss of so many toads on island roads, many of them females, as they migrate to their breeding ponds. Simply by helping them across the most dangerous black spots, the Toads on Roads Campaign could potentially save hundreds of breeding adults.
As toad breeding season is well under way, anyone interested in volunteering for night-time lollipop duty is being asked to contact Toadwatch as soon as possible on 860053 . Islanders who live near lanes which are used by toads are also being asked to speak to Transport and Technical Services Department for permission to erect warning signs making road users aware of the toads.
Any information about toad sightings, ponds with toads or ponds that were previously used as spawning sites but have now become dormant, can be sent to email@example.com or left as a detailed message on the Toadwatch line 860053
JARG 'toad day'
The Jersey Amphibian & Reptile Group (JARG) is running a local event on Amphibian and Reptile recording. The day is being held at Durrell’s international training centre on Saturday 19th February 2010 from 9:45 am to 4:00 pm.
The event includes talks, workshops for existing volunteer recorders and for individuals who would like to take part to learn about local amphibian and reptile identification, pond assessments and survey methods and protocols. If you would like to join us then please contact Nina Cornish Telephone: 441624 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details or to book a place.
0945 -1015 Arrive (tea/coffee)
1015 -1030 John Wilkinson, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, “The Wonderful World of Toads”.
1030 - 1100 Wendy Van Neste, ToadWatch coordinator JARG, “ToadWatch Update and Toads on the Road Campaign”.
1100 - 1115 Alcindo Pinto, 'Little Green Man', “Building Ponds for Wildlife with Toads in Mind”.
1115 - 1145 Andrew Arnell, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation “Modelling Toad Distribution”.
1145 - 1200 Lindsey Napton, States of Jersey, “Law Review and its Relevance to Jersey Amphibians and Reptiles”.
1200 - 1300 Lunch
1300 –1330 Nina Cornish, States of Jersey, “Jersey National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) Update”.
Training in amphibian and reptile identification, habitat assessment, survey methods, survey protocols, recording, health & safety will be provided
1330 - 1430 Amphibian Surveying
1430 - 1530 Reptile Surveying
1530 - 1600 Close Any other business
Round up of agile frog breeding season 2010
The frogs had a drier start to the year than 2009, but never the less after distribution of spawning branches in early February, 9 frogs were spotted within their proximity. The first frog spawn clumps appeared on Feb 15th and tens more were recorded in the following weeks. 18 clumps were found in the main pond area at Ouaisne. This is fantastic as no clumps have been found in this area since back in the 1990’s. Spawn was also found in a previously uninhabited slack. These finds suggest a healthy recovery of the agile frog population may be in progress. A steady upwards trend began in the years just after 2000 and in the last 3 years the number of clumps has been doubling annually!
The newt population also seems to be increasing, with many more spotted than in previous years. However, it cannot be certified that this increase is in relation to increasing frog numbers.
Unfortunately, the long dry spell of early summer caused many of the slacks used by the frogs to shrink in size, and some to dry out completely. In a normal year only around 2.3% of tadpoles survive to the froglet stage, and the dry spell will mean the journey to adulthood will be even more hazardous this year. Time will tell whether the high numbers of spawn recorded this spring will be enough to offset this additional challenge faced by the tadpoles. The tadpoles take 2-4 months to metamorphose, depending on water temperature and so should emerge in late summer.
In a Grouville pond in 2009, a clump of common frog spawn was found. This species is not native to the Island. Thankfully, this incident was spotted and reported by a observant member of the public and the spawn was subsequently removed. It is thanks to vigilance such as this that our local amphibians remain relatively safe from threats from invaders.
Record your Sightings
Department of the Environment
Howard Davis Farm
La Route de la Trinite
Telephone: 00 44 1534 441600
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