Every year volunteers across the country go out at night to help amphibians (frogs, toads and newts) on their spring migration to cross busy roads. We organise volunteer patrols near Keswick and are always on the look-out for more people willing to volunteer some time.

Toads on Roads is a citizen science project, coordinated by the amphibian and reptile charity Froglife, that collects data from different toad patrols and uses it to help support research. They host a map of different crossing sites which you can add to if you know of roads where animals are being run over (note: reporting a crossing does not mean it will be patrolled)

What volunteers do

On a toad patrol, volunteers walk up and down a short stretch of road in pairs, for up to two hours (it is always dark and usually wet). 

We wear headtorches, and shine them into the road to look for frogs, toads and newts. Any that we find we pick up using gloves, and put in a bucket (this often means walking into the road to collect them). 

Once we have a few, we release them on the other side of the road at a safe spot, as close to their breeding location as possible. We record and move any dead animals we find.

Where we patrol

There are two sites near Keswick that we patrol with volunteers. These are both on the A591, one at Dodd Wood and one at Low Nest (on the brow of the hill on the road towards Thirlmere). We tend to patrol more often at the Low Nest site because this stretch of road has a footpath and is therefore safer.

Patrol dates

Amphibians tend to move at night when it’s above 5ºC and wet. It usually happens for a few weeks around March time, but the time it starts and ends is very dependent on the weather. The days we go out are often decided quite late-on because it is entirely weather dependent, so if you want to get involved, you may not get much notice. We usually start at dusk and patrol for a couple of hours.

Want to get involved?

Requirements to be a volunteer 

You need to be: 

  • Able to get to the sites independently (public transport does not run at the times required)
  • Fit enough to walk (slowly) for at least an hour and be able to bend down to pick up animals
  • Comfortable walking at night in the rain by the side of a road
  • Comfortable, with training, picking up amphibians (although you can be paired with someone who can do this bit if necessary)
  • Able to tell, with training, the difference between frogs and toads (so we can keep track of numbers)
  • Free evening times during March and available at short notice
  • Contactable by email (to reduce admin time)
  • Aware of traffic, and be able to respond quickly if necessary
  • Able to carry out the work at your own risk

Equipment 

You need to bring: 

  • Waterproofs
  • Wellies
  • High vis jacket if you have one (we do have some spares)
  • Headtorch (you need to be hands-free!)

We provide: 

  • Buckets
  • Babywipes
  • Gloves
  • Spare hi-vis jackets
  • First aid kit
  • Recording sheet

Things to consider

  • Due to the nature of the activity, this type of volunteering is not suitable for children
  • Please take biosecurity into consideration. It is a good idea to clean and dry your boots before wearing them elsewhere. This reduces the risk of spreading animals and plant diseases.
  • When joining a patrol, please be sensible with cars as there is not a lot of parking space.
  • You will come across dead animals which can be quite distressing

Contact us

If you have any questions or want to sign up to our Toad Patrol volunteer email list, contact info@westcumbriariverstrust.org