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Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wed 27th April 2011 - Binstead Woods.

As you can see from the pictures above, team GG were back pathway building again this week. Two large piles of stone chippings had been pre-delivered to each end of Binstead Woods and it was all hands to the barrows, shovels and rakes for building up the boggy areas of the footpaths. Although the piles were of a considerable size (6 tons total?) we made short work of them and by tea break we had completed that part of our tasks. Other team members walked the numerous pathways - trimming back any overhanging brambles etc and doing a litter pick as they went. As we were close to the Millennium Gardens, it was decide that we would do a bit more work clearing the brambles along the butterfly walk (we have worked there before). We were careful that there were no nesting birds and also when walking around as common newts, toads, slow worms etc were all seen in this area. Seeing such a wide diversity of creatures and plants in an area we have helped with makes it all worthwhile.....!

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Among our many finds this week, the only one we could get on camera was a Common Toad (Bufo Bufo), which is widespread throughout Europe with the exception of Iceland,Ireland and some Mediterranean islands. Its easterly range extends to Irkutsk in Siberia and its southerly range includes parts of northwestern Africa. Adult males usually grow to 8 cm and adult females around 13 cm, while their skin has a warty appearance in colours from green to brown.

Toads generally hunt at night, and are most active in wet weather. As a defense against predators they secrete a toxic, foul tasting substance called bufagin, which is usually enough to deter many predators although grass snakes and hedgehogs are immune. Although the adults spend most of their time on land, the females enter ponds and other still waters to lay their eggs as toadspawn, which can be distinguished from the spawn of the common frog as it forms strings rather than a large mass of eggs. These are laid in the spring, with the females attempting to return to the water in which they were born. The young tadpoles resemble other tadpoles in their appearance, except that toadpoles have a larger, rounder blacker head and shorter tail. Young common toads eat ants and some small flies, while the adults eat invertebrates such as insects, insect larvae, spiders, slug and worms, which they catch on their sticky tongues. Larger toads may also take small reptiles and rodents, which are swallowed alive.

Many thanks to Carrie for the pictures and Nature lesson.

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