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Watch out - toads about

25 March 2009

Recruits required for Holyrood Park Patrols

Historic Scotland’s Ranger Service is looking for volunteers of all ages to join its annual Holyrood Park ‘Toad Patrol’.  

Every year the Rangers keep a sharp look-out for the start of the spawning season when the toads in the capital city’s most famous green space make their perilous journey from its grassy hillsides down to Dunsapie Loch.  

The last few dozen metres of their trek are the most hazardous for the toads, as they emerge from the relative safety of long vegetation and make their way across the road to the loch.  They not only risk being killed by traffic but also – because of their conspicuousness - ending up as the easy prey of a variety of predators.  

The task for volunteers is to become ‘toad patrollers’ and help the Rangers scour the road and hill to collect and record any toads they find before delivering them safely into the loch.

Conservation Ranger Stuart Rivers said: “We’re hoping as many helpers as possible will join our ‘Watch Out – Toads About’ event on the morning of Sunday 29th March.  Taking part in our annual toad patrol is great fun for adults and children alike and, of course, a fantastic way to help conserve the species within this wonderful urban park.  Each year, assisted by enthusiastic local volunteers, the Rangers Service collects hundreds of toads from the roads within Holyrood Park to save them from the very probable fate of being either run over by vehicles or being killed by animals and birds.

“Our event also offers a great opportunity to find out lots about toads and other amphibians, how they live and the dangers they face during the breeding season - for example, the fact that the last stage of the toads’ difficult journey is often less arduous for the males who, as part of the courtship ritual, try to hitch a ride on a female’s back!  We’ve also got lots of fun activities planned such as games and a quiz.”

Adults and children are invited to take part in the free ‘Watch Out – Toads About’ event on Sunday morning.  Please phone the Ranger Service on 0131 652 8150 to reserve a place and for further details.  

Participants will be advised to bring stout footwear and weatherproof clothing, and asked to meet promptly at the barrier by the road triangle on the north-west side of St Margaret’s Loch at 8.30 am, ready to depart en masse on the toad patrol.  As the patrollers head uphill to Dunsapie Loch, there will be various activities to highlight aspects of a toad’s life.

Afterwards the toad patrollers will be able to join the Ranger Service for a warm drink and more amphibian-related activities (primarily for children) at the Holyrood Park Education Centre.  This element of the day is a drop-in event running between 10: 00 am and 2.00 pm.

Notes for Editors

  • Holyrood Park is one of Edinburgh’s most famous and popular historic landmarks.  Encompassing a 5-mile radius of land, it has probably been a Royal Park since the 12th century.  The Park is both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest.  It is full of geological and archaeological treasures dating back thousands of years. These include Arthur's Seat, one of four hill forts dating from around 2000 years ago, a prehistoric farmstead of scooped circular hut, east of Dunsapie Crag, and the remains of medieval and later rig-and-furrow cultivation.  The Park is also an important habitat for extensive ranges of plant and wildlife, including a wide variety of birds.

  • The Park is in the care of Historic Scotland which is responsible for maintaining the natural environment and presenting the Park for the enjoyment of the local community and visitors.  The Ranger Service based at Holyrood Park cares for this unique historic and natural attraction and provides a range of important educational services. The Ranger Service  can be contacted on 0131 652 8150.

  • Within Holyrood Park, signs explaining the reasons for the road closure during the toad spawning season have been designed and created as part of a project carried out by the Ranger Service in association with the Garvald Centre for adults with disabilities.

  • Historic Scotland cares for 345 splendid properties and sites throughout Scotland – from prehistoric dwellings and stone circles, to castles and palaces, abbeys and cathedrals.  For further details, visit:

  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871