Well here is something out of the ordinary and close to my heart.
What we have here is the RSPB doing things wrong and regarding a species of animal I love, the Natterjack Toad which previously had the name of Bufo calamita.
This report has the RSPB attempting something to save the toads and I how it's not an excuse to grab more cash.
Also I have seen previous efforts to save the roads and in all honesty they were based in incompetence and would never have worked in a million years.
The two I have seen are in Norfolk on a certain area of sand dunes I will not mention here. The other in an area of Bedfordshire that was a re-introduction attempt that was also doomed to fail based on the concrete ponds I saw. Any released toads would, of they are lucky, remain around for years. If unlucky they would just buffet off elsewhere. The ponds that were made out of concrete were all wrong, as were the ones in Norfolk! Anyone I know that has seen these ponds states exactly the same thing.
I also doubt the validity of the claim that there are only 200 roads left too, in fact I would wager they are well off the mark. The question is I have to wonder being so far out if they knew this when stating it?!
It's not just habitat that had to be taken into account but the water too and you must have a minimum of aquatic pant life as the larvae are intolerant of things that the plants leech into the water.
Natterjacks have been a favourite of mine since I was about ten years old. They hold, for me, one of the greatest mysteries and perhaps secrets to this part of the world and it's geology. This is because their ranges are so cut off from each in the UK. Norfolk has a good range, the North West had a small one as far as I recall while the Solway in Scotland should have the largest according to specialist books I read as a boy?! Also there is a colony near Cork in South West Ireland too, it's very weird.
However the books stated that they migrated there but I think they are remnants of a much larger range previous to the last Ice Age. Probably inhabited much of what is now the North Sea? Somewhere from Brittany to Scandinavia was all land with a series of large rivers. Being lowland habitat is reasonable to assume much was heathland and sand dunes that spread across the region either in a network or almost entirely? When the seas rose up the network of rivers joined until the entire plains were flooded. They algae provide evidence that the climate was a lot warmer too based on their breeding OBS they use today!
They choose the smallest and shallowest ponds and pools surrounded by sand and breed in April. Normally after a few sunny days and a night tine temperature of about ten degrees Celsius. This is because the water the larvae grow in is very warm. They are bit the only amphibian, not even in Europe, but are the one furthest north to do this.
Now either sand dunes and heathland were a lot more widespread than they are today, i.e. all the area of the North Sea, or the planet was a great deal warmer?
This is just one native amphibian that tells us a story, even if it is incomplete. There are many others and animals such to their entourage ranges as well as their preferred substrates. When pushed they nice and can take desperate measures if needed to. Unfortunately this due bit always work out and they can disappear. Though more often than not this is normally down to mankind, destroying their habitat or doing something they think will help them and getting it grossly wrong!
Let's hope they have realised that concrete is not the way to go and that they should be looking at all aspects of water quality of their preferred breeding ponds?
Concrete might get a little too hot which would mean the ponds made need to be bigger. Also I would be concerned about tiny toadlets no bigger than your little fingernail trying to walk across sub baked concrete all the way to the safety of vegetation?
Let's hour they consider this too and do not just parade about with bits of paper stating they are allowed to touch them?!
Natterjacks are protected by law and removing them or distribution them is an offence with a big fine. Unless your a property developer and the local council is desperate? Lol!
Bid to save rare natterjack toads http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-28703591