Heralds of Spring

Spring starts during the latter half of next month! Yahoo! For me, the heralds of spring are the Lagoon Field common toads. Thousands of toads begin their journey from Wilden Lane Lagoon Field around 9th March every year; they walk across the Northern Corridor to mate in North Pond, at the southern end of the Swamp. At the start of the spectacle, the Northern Corridor and North Pond Pasture are carpeted with lumbering toads eager to join a mating frenzy. I have to take great care to avoid squashing them as I walk through the area at night. After a couple of weeks of vigorous mating, the toads return to the Lagoon Field for rest and recuperation until the same time next year.

The toads are a food source for herons, otters and other predators. I guess the terribly fierce mink takes advantage of the glut too. The herons snip off the toads’ heads and turn them inside out to eat the flesh: the toad’s skin tastes horrible. Otters launch themselves into North Pond after dark, making tremendous splashes; they quickly grab a toad and leave the pond to eat it. Happy days!

IMG_2965TOADS

Mating toads in North Pond at Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve

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