Islanders looking for a 'toad-ally' fun activity over the Easter break - which will also help "spawn" useful data for a local biodiversity project - should look no further than their nearest pond.
Islanders are being encouraged to "spawn spot" as part of an ongoing project to determine the health of amphibian environments.
Pondwatch, a project that aims to gather sightings of Jersey's pond life to assess their conservation status, is asking islanders to spend 30 minutes looking for toads, frogs, and newt eggs in ponds.
Those on the lookout should then record what they have – or haven't – seen in a 'Level 1 Survey Form' which can be found on the Jersey Biodiversity Centre's website.
Pondwatch is reminding anyone taking part to fill in the form even if they have not seen any amphibian eggs after 30 minutes of looking, as that data is an important indication of health in the environment.
There are three amphibian species in Jersey, and where possible, islanders should look for the differences in their spawn:
The first is the western toad, known locally as the crapaud, which lays spawn in long double strings. The eggs are black circular shapes which form along the jelly-like protection. These can be harder to spot, because algae can grow over the eggs to camouflage them from predators. Do not disturb the eggs or remove them from the pond.
This is Jersey's rarest amphibian. The females of this species lay balls of spawn which are attached to sunken twigs to keep it still and safe. After near extinction in the 1980s, these eggs now only appear in several ponds in the southwest of the Island, but a long-term recovery project has been helping the population to steadily increase.
Pictured: Islanders are being asked to look for the spawn of Jersey's three amphibian species.
With agile frog eggs, islanders should also watch out for dropping water levels in their pond, and they can help the eggs by filling it back up with rainwater. Sightings of ducks, who may find these eggs a tasty snack, should also be added to recording sheets.
The hardest to spot are the eggs from Jersey's only newt species, the Palmate newt, which are folded individually in the leaves of pond plants to form a parcel.
Make sure to bring your glasses to see the folded leaves.
Anyone who does not have the time to carry out the survey, but would still like to take part, can still record any sightings on the website as a 'casual record'.
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