Toad Road

Welcome to our Toad Road project page! 18 months after our project launch in September 2021, at least fifteen Wilderhood Watch members had dug new ponds in their garden, and at least one had adjusted their existing pond to make it more wildlife friendly. By the end of 2023 we’d created an additional 3 ponds since and had adjusted 2 more to make them more wildlife friendly. With a total of 18 this means we’re well on the way to creating 1% of the ponds needed to reach the Wildlife Trust target of 2030 ponds in Hertfordshire by 2030!

Even a small pond can make a massive difference. This sunken builder’s bucket in a garden on Woodstock rd South has provided habitat for breeding frogs who otherwise may not have survived.

Not only have our new ponds provided much needed habitat for aquatic animals, but they’re now being used for scientific research. In a study led by Steve Brooks, a well known dragonfly expert, we have been documenting some dragonfly species emerging from ponds dug after September 2021. This is compelling evidence that these ancient creatures are shortening their life cycles from 2 years to 1 due to our warming climate. Pictured above is a red damselfly emerging after only one year, a broad-bodied chaser husk who’s occupant also emerged after only one year, and a Southern Hawker who we assume is emerging after the standard 2 years as a nymph.

This pond on Harpenden rd was dug in June 2022 and already is home to pond skaters and diving beetles. It’s also attracting some fabulous new visitors, including this gorgeous broad-bodied male chaser dragonfly.

It’s been amazing to watch how quickly our ponds have been colonised, and we’ve had so much fun sharing photos of the various creatures that have found a home there.

Two new ponds have recently been dug on our Wilderhood Watch streets: a larger one on Beech rd and a mini one on Burnham rd, already planted with Marsh Marigolds.

Our Toad Road project has inspired members to dig new ponds on Lancaster Rd, Garden Close and Salisbury Ave.

There is also an exciting mini pond currently being added to a Seymour Rd front garden as well as a wonderful larger pond being dug in a Beech Rd back garden.

A pond is a wonderful addition to a garden, providing a ready supply of water for wildlife and attracting lots of different species such as dragonflies, newts and frogs (which as an added bonus will happily dine on slugs). Please do make sure your pond is hedgehog safe by having a shallow end to your pond as well as a ramp, so that hedgehogs can always easily make a quick exit.

Just three months from when it was first dug, here are some of the animals who moved in to a St Albans garden pond. Amazing!

Toad Road is an exciting collaboration between Wilderhood Watch, Wilder St Albans and Sandridge Road Allotments. To celebrate this, we launched our project during The Great Big Green Week (September 18th – 26th) with a series of Pond Walks on a number of our Wilderhood Watch streets.

Members on Burnham Rd, Abbey View Rd and Salisbury Ave had a wonderful time enthusing about each other’s ponds, pond dipping, and making plans to dig their own!

Our Family Pond Dipping afternoon led by Heidi Carruthers, our Wilder St Albans Officer, was also a great success. We now know that the pond in the Grebe House Bee Garden at Verulamium Park is supporting a huge diversity of little creatures, including dragon fly larvae, diving beetles and leeches!

As a prequel to our project launch, we held our first evening Pond Walk on Lancaster Rd on July 30th 2021. This involved Wilderhood Watch members checking out ponds in each others’ gardens and swapping tips on how to create one.

Hopefully the events we have planned will lead to even more ponds appearing in our gardens, creating a network of joined-up habitat for water-dependent insects and amphibians.

Streets involved in our Toad Road project so far:

For detailed information on what we can all do to help amphibians, please check out the Froglife website.