In a continuing effort to help mating toads, volunteers have been working on clearing out the pond in Castle Cary, making the area an idea date spot for amphibians of all types. – Global Animal

This Is Somerset

A TEAM of young unemployed people have been up to their armpits in mud this month clearing out a pond used by mating toads in Castle Cary.

The important breeding site had become overgrown and riddled with the invasive Australian stonecrop plant so the Somerset Wildlife Trust stepped in to find a solution.

The volunteers were part of the Groundworks team, a government-funded charity that assists young unemployed people in gaining essential work skills.

Dave Boyer, from the trust, said: “Half of the pond has now been cleared of vegetation and should be an ideal habitat for breeding toads, frogs and newts.

“Next autumn the other half of the pond will be cleared so it’s a really good project and should help the wildlife in the area to thrive.”

Eight young men along with supervisor Richard Catlin spent seven days, often deep in cold water and mud, clearing out reeds and bull rushes to restore the pond to its former glory.

Toad populations are on the decline throughout the countryside so the trust helped improve the habitat by making the pond deeper and clearer to encourage amphibians, invertebrates and other wildlife to use the pond as a mating ground.

The team removed five tonnes of weed and debris that was taken away, and used for compost free of charge by Viridor Waste management.

An active toad patrol takes place between February and April each year with 25 volunteers taking it in turns to escort toads across roads as they head for the pond to mate.

Ground works are also working at Carymarsh Nature Reserve, planting trees, clearing reeds and making other improvements to the site, as well at the Carymoor Environmental Centre.