On July 7th, the same day as we started our sub-adult Western toad road surveys, we installed a camera in the tunnel so that we could count the number of sub-adult toads that used the tunnel during the migration. The camera was in the tunnel from July 7th – 20th, and took a picture every minute, resulting in 13,119 photos to sort through after the migration was over. Thanks to Lisa and Sasha, who patiently counted all of the toads seen on the photos, we documented a total of 34,915 sub-adult toads using the tunnel!
We tried a new and improved camera set-up this year, and while it worked better, we can’t directly compare numbers between last year and this year. But we are very pleased and excited that so many sub-adult toads used the tunnel rather than the road. There were also other critters seen on the pictures such as a skunk, possum, and a deer mouse. Interestingly, the photos also revealed several people looking into the tunnel to see how the toads were making out. We discovered that after a human was seen at the entrance, fewer toads used the tunnel until about 15 minutes after the person left… an interesting insight into their behaviour!
We are now working with our partners on ideas on how we can improve the directional fencing for next year to ensure that the tunnel captures even more toads and the always important but rarely seen breeding adults. Stay tuned!
Thanks to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation for funding our monitoring work of the tunnel!