Victoria Park frog rescue 2017

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Volunteers again rescued hundreds of frogs and other amphibians in Victoria Park on 9-10 October.

Early October is the time when the fading summer bedding plants are stripped from Victoria Park’s Sunken Garden, to make way for fresh winter/spring bedding. This exposes large numbers of frogs, toads and newts, which like the damp shelter of the flower beds, to predators such as Carrion Crowns and Magpies. Following last autumn’s successful rescue operation, the Biodiversity Officer, with help from the Friends of Victoria Park, again recruited a rota of volunteers to move the amphibians to the safety of nearby shrubberies.

Bucket of amphibiansAs the Council’s Green Team began to strip the beds first thing on Monday morning, the Biodiversity Officer and the first few of around a dozen volunteers were there to grab the frogs, toads and newts as they were exposed by the removal of the plants. Toads and newts are fairly slow-moving and easy to catch, but not so the frogs, many of which led the rescue team a merry dance across the flower beds before being captured and placed in buckets (see photo left). By the end of the first day, 130 Common Frogs, 47 Common Toads and 19 Smooth Newts had been moved to safety.

Tuesday was a shorter day, as the hard-working Green Team, with a little help from frog volunteers, had stripped the beds and removed all the plants by lunchtime. A further 64 frogs, 12 toads and three newts were rescued, making a total of 275 amphibians over the two days. This is far fewer than last year’s estimated 800, but does not necessarily imply that amphibians have declined in the park. It may be because the summer has not been as dry as last year, meaning that the flower beds were not so much damper than other areas of the park, and the amphibians were more spread out. Future years’ frog rescues will provide more data.

Frog rescue volunteersThe Green Team and frog patrol were joined on both days by residents and representatives of local schools and community gardens, who were allowed to help themselves to the plants, which would otherwise have been composted.

The next frog rescue could be in the late spring, when the winter/spring bedding is replaced by next year’s summer bedding. This year, due to a very dry spring and poor plant growth, conditions in the flower beds were unsuitable for amphibians, so the rescue was cancelled. The Biodiversity Officer will assess whether a spring rescue is required next year. Either way, there will almost certainly be another rescue next October. If you’re interested in getting involved, please e-mail the Biodiversity Officer.

If you don’t want to wait till spring to help wildlife in Victoria Park, why not join the Community Park Rangers for the regular monthly “Make Your Mark on Vicky Park” conservation task? These are held on the last Sunday of every month except December. For more information e-mail the Community Park Rangers. There are also lots of events in the park. See the full autumn/winter events programme in Victoria Park.

Header photo by John Archer, side photos by John Archer (upper) and Beverley Poynter (lower).
Click photos to enlarge.

Stripping annual bedding plants

Stripping the beds (John Archer)

Looking for the last few frogs (Beverley Poynter)

Common Toad

Common Toad (Sally Randall)

Common Frog

Common Frog (Beverley Poynter)

Smooth Newt

Smooth Newt (Beverley Poynter)

Common Frog

Common Frog (Beverley Poynter)

Common Frog

Common Frog (Nicky)

Common Toad

Common Toad (Nicky)

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