Wilden Marsh Toad Mating Season

It’s that time again! Today, 9th March, is the beginning of the toad mating season on Wilden Marsh. Last night was my first toad-watching evening of this year, and I didn’t see a single toad. Soon, though, maybe tonight, an advance party of toads will begin their slow march from hiding places in the Lagoon Field to congregate in puddles and small pools around North Pond. When the puddles and small pools become too busy, the toads will make their way to North Pond: their breeding pond. Fortunately, the toads don’t have to risk being squashed crossing the busy Wilden Lane.

Thousands of common toads will stay in North Pond until the end of the month, and most will then return to their Lagoon Field hiding places under a full moon on 31st March. They will leave the bottom of North Pond littered with headless toad corpses turned inside-out by herons.

For the last two weeks of March, Herons, otters and mink will gorge on toads at North Pond.

I guess many people in around Kidderminster and Stourport will be blissfully unaware of this natural and important annual toad spectacle playing out on Wilden Marsh whilst they sleep, work, rest and play – until now, that is, at least for those reading this.


Toad mating Ball

A Brilliant Night For Toading On Wilden Marsh(3 images)

The sky above Wilden Marsh was dark but clear this evening. A large, bright, full moon crept above Hoo Wood Hill, taking the edge off the darkness as I walked along the Northern Corridor. Every pond, puddle, and water filled scrape was awash with toads. My head and hand torches were essential to avoid stepping on them. So the toad breeding season is well underway on Wilden Marsh.

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Nicely Dressed.

There is still too much flood water at the southern end of the North Pond Chain; finishing the willow coppicing at its outflow into the River Stour will have to wait again. I felled the last 3 of a 30 plus stand of tall alders growing along the stock fence in the northern corridor, and dressed the remaining stools instead. I’m leaving the twin alder for now (in the  centre of the first image). The coppiced alder stools will reshoot in spring and grow to a height of one and a half metres by the end of next summer.

The temperature throughout the day was around 6 degrees Centigrade, and the rain held off until late afternoon. Some of the puddles were iced over, so winter temperatures are finally here.

I finished the day by reclaiming the old crab apple tree (immediately right of the twin alders in the centre of the first image). Brambles (some over 25mm thick) were using the tree as a climbing frame, so I removed most of them and did some light branch pruning. The apple tree requires further pruning and I will do this over the next two winters. There is a good eating apple tree nearby requiring pruning; again, I will attend to this over the next three years.

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Coppiced alder in the northern corridor, close to the North Pond gate.

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Looking north into the swamp from North Pond.

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Looking south along the North Pond Chain from the edge of the Swamp.