13th March 2012: There wasn’t the slightest breeze on the marsh tonight. The sky was overcast, but there was enough light to walk by. The clouds reflect the ambient light from the surrounding industrial and residential estates on to the marsh. On clear nights the ambient light escapes straight up into the heavens. Owls were a hooting an’ a tooting; pheasants were calling from the swamp and there was a muntjac deer barking from somewhere in that direction. In fact, it was a very pleasant evening to be out marshing.
I heard the feint and gentle croaking of the toads as I neared the pond from the direction of the north pasture. The toad’s call is more like a quiet squeak than a croak. Ambient light bounced off the surface of the pond, and the many surface ripples promised some seriously energetic toad action.
There are many more toads in the pond tonight, than there were on Sunday evening. Toad mating activity has not yet peaked: this will probably happen on Thursday or Friday night.
I was so focused on the toads tonight, that it would probably have taken a very loud bang or shout to grab my attention. I had two cameras and three lights on the go. Anyone living along Wilden Lane, and happened to be looking down onto the marsh from their kitchen window, must have wondered what was going on with all the camera flashes and lights. I was half expecting a police helicopter to arrive overhead – which wouldn’t be the first time this had happened.
As I walked home across the marsh, I couldn’t help but marvel at my brain’s ability to block out the busy traffic noises from Wilden Lane. Whilst I was photographing the toads, I was even oblivious to the continuous rhythmic thumping of the heavy-metal presses on the industrial estate above the ridge at the other side of the canal.