The natterjack Project
In 1989, a project started to reintroduce the country’s rarest amphibian, the Natterjack toad, to Hengistbury Head. This has been successful, and now there are thriving populations in the old mine-working ponds and several others. “The population is sustaining well,” says senior ranger Brian Heppenstall. “On average, these toads, which look just like normal toads, albeit slightly smaller and with a yellow stripe running down their backs, lay approximately 20 ‘strings’ in a year. Each string contains approximately 4,000 eggs. “The beach huts are lived in from March to October. These little toads have been known to hibernate in the foundations, meaning they are inhabited all year round.” Late spring is the ideal time to witness the Natterjack’s mating rituals. In May, at dusk, their distinctive purring call can be heard. The toads, no bigger than the average palm of a hand, can reach a tremendous volume to attract females, audible up to two miles away.