Posted 6th Apr 2018
Did you know the UK's loudest amphibian is also one of our rarest?
The aptly named natterjack toad is a very rare animal in Britain - it's now mainly found in sand dunes and saltmarshes around the coasts of north-west England and the Solway Firth in Scotland. It's here that they will breed in shallow (and usually temporary) pools of water. In other locations, they are managing to cling on at a handful of sand dunes in East Anglia and heathlands in Surrey and Hampshire.
Smaller than the common toad, they can be identified by a yellow strip running down the centre of their back. However, what really makes a natterjack stand out is its voice.
The call of a male natterjack is reputed to be the loudest of any amphibian in the country- some label it 'phenomenal', others 'tropical'. On warm spring nights, as the males inflate their vocal pouches, the chorus strikes up from the pools amongst the dunes on the Wirral coast, and you can certainly hear why.
How to do it
As a protected species, it is against the law to disturb a natterjack toad or its habitat. Therefore, you should stick to the footpath, stay behind fences and watch where you tread. Rather than risk harming one, you should keep your distance and stay downwind by around half a mile or so.
There's no need to worry about not hearing them because you certainly will! Pick a warm, cloudy and damp day and arrive before darkness falls - then, find a comfortable spot to take in the show!
Pop in for a natter on the Wirral. One of the few remaining refuges for the natterjack toad is Red Rocks Marsh, Cheshire between West Kirby and Hoylake. Brand new breeding pools have been created on the seaward side of Royal Liverpool Golf Club, and they're already attracting a spring symphony of male natterjacks. You don't even need to get too close - you can enjoy the concert from the beach.
Cumbria, Eskmeals Dunes
Lincolnshire, Saltfleetby – Theddlethorpe Dunes NNR
Norfolk, Holme Dunes (Rather than risk harming the toads by venturing up the access track, stand on the sea wall by Thornham harbour or better still, enjoy a pint and the toads' song outside the Lifeboat Inn.)
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of © Philip Precey