The number of recorded toads migrating from the heathland to the ponds at Woodhill has fallen in the last couple of years from just under 4,000 in 2010 to 822 in 2015.
However, 2016 saw an increase in the numbers being counted. Between March and the start of April, Jan Later and her team of volunteers from the Surrey Reptile Association collected around 1,200. Far fewer toads were recorded travelling across Woodhill Lane and Stroud Lane however, indicating that many are being lost to traffic on their return journeys. Most of the toads collected and counted now seem to be travelling down from the woodland behind Madgehole Lane. Madgehole is a quiet lane with very limited traffic. It appears that the toad population is surviving around its immediate area but is declining in the hills north of Woodhill Lane.
Woodhill and its surrounding area has been home to one of the largest populations of toads in the UK. Each Spring when the weather is wet and starts to warm up (over 8c) the toads migrate from the heath and woodland to the ponds at Woodhill to mate and lay their sporn. Without Jan and her team of volunteers many more toads would fall victim to the cars on the roads. The numbers collected this year are similar to those in 2013 reversing a decline seen over the last two years, but it would appear that while the population is doing well around Madgehole, it is in decline north of Woodhill Lane.
If you are driving home on a March evening and see Toad Collecting signs please do slow down and spare a thought for a natural process that has been going on way before the dawn of the motorcar. It would be a shame if this natural phenomenon was to come to an end in the next few years.