Spend an evening in the sand dunes near Talacre in North Wales at this time of year and if you are lucky you will hear the distinctive call of the natterjack toad.
Natterjack toads are distinguished from their more common relatives by a slightly smaller size and a yellow dorsal stripe. Preferred habitat is coastal sand dunes and saltmarsh. During hot dry weather the toads burrow into sand to protect themselves from drying out, and use their burrows for hibernation during the winter.
Habitat loss has caused a 75% decline in these amphibians over the course of the last century. In North Wales, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust have led on a project, supported by Natural Resources Wales, to reintroduce these toads to sites along the coast near Talacre. Following creation of ponds, spawn strings were translocated to the Talacre dunes for three years from 1996. The first spawning took place on the site in 1999 and the dune system now supports a healthy population of toads.
Habitat management on the site includes a small herd of Carneddau ponies.
Talacre has now been used as a donor site for other re-introductions along the coast. At the Point of Ayr, belted galloway cattle have been grazing to manage the habitat for natterjacks for the last 8 months. Toads were re-introduced here 5 years ago and this year they were heard on the site for the first time!
PONT were pleased to assist with the cattle grazing here. If you have a similar project and need assistance to introduce conservation grazing, please get in touch!