Scientists proved in 2014 that the toads living on Jersey are a different species from the common toad (Bufo bufo) found across UK and Europe and has been named The Jersey toad (Bufo spinosus). Dr. John Wilkinson who works as Science Programme Manager forAmphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), explained “We always suspected there was something special about the toads of Jersey. They grow larger, breed earlier and use different habitats than English toads. Now we know they are a new species, we can ensure efforts for their conservation are directed to their specific needs.”
Curiously. the fact the Jersey is the only channel island with toads has led to a common association between the islanders and the animal, which led dwellers of the other islands to use the term “crapaud” from the French to refer to residents of Jersey in a derogatory way. The toad is now a common cultural fixture in Jersey, with a statue dedicated to it in the island’s capital St Helier. (image BBC)
To the north of Morecambe Bay lies the little visited Duddon estuary with its spectacular views of the Lake District. Large numbers of waterbirds winter here and there is also an internationally important breeding population of Sandwich terns . Remarkably, the estuary also supports 20-25% of all natterjack toads in Britain, whose national population has fallen by as much as 80 percent in the last 100 years. BBC Radio Four’s Living World visited the beach at Haverigg on the estuary’s northern shore to meet the natters.
On the night of the recording, Lionel joins William Shaw, Cumbria Conservation Officer with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, on the dunes at sunset. As the sun dips below the horizon, they catch the first calls on the breeze. The natterjacks are emerging from their burrows to sing their deafening lovesongs. Picking their way by torch-light, Lionel and Bill discover toads massing in the pools, on the sand and in the grass. Toad-on-the-sole is something to avoid; Bill confesses that this was his first mortifying experience with a Natterjack many years ago. The Natterjack toad is much smaller than the common toad with a bold yellow stripe down its back. They switch their torches off. Soon a ratchet sound starts up cranking up to the full-on mating call. Irresistible. [Listen]
The Sefton dunes are one of the last British strongholds of the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), the country’s only egg laying lizard. It was once common throughout the dunes and heathlands of southern England, but is today restricted to scattered populations in Dorset, Surrey and here on the Sefton Coast. See BBC on release project.