It seems like every week brings a new sign of spring and today it was the turn of the toads! Our dog walk soon became a carefully managed mission to navigate our new warty friends, as they crawled across the paths with no sign of urgency, whilst we had the task of controlling four excited greyhounds who all want to bounce and poke the toads.
As a kid I’ve fond memories of the village ‘toad crossings’, walking about in the dark with buckets, helping the annual migration of toads cross a busy road to a kettle hole lake called ‘Hatch Mere’. We had to count our passengers and pay particular attention to ‘double-deckers’. It was always good fun and some nights have a distinct tinge of horror movie quantities of toads crawling towards the water en mass!
Anyway, back to today’s toads. I’ve got used to the birdsong filling the trees and gradually getting louder in the last few weeks. Today standing by our pond listening to the toads singing was a fabulous surprise moment in a busy week, in fact as I write this we are planning on heading out at dawn to listen to them waking up and might also have a sneaky peak before bed!
Is it a Toad or a Frog?
These guys were crawling, not hopping. Sometimes they try a little half-arsed attempt at hopping but as a rule, they crawl; in a slow and ugly way. They are nobbly, warty and have a dry look to them - frogs are smooth and wet looking. Toads also have glorious copper eyes and shorter stumpier legs, hence the walking and crawling. Personally, I also think they have massive grins on their lumpy faces, where as frogs are all a bit pointier and sterner looking.
Be Careful with Dogs
So, the toads return heralds slowed down car journeys up the drive to avoid squishing the little guys, sometimes helping them cross and dog walks with added excitement. One hound in particular will now be poking every stone, pine cone and leaf, sometimes he will luck out and actually get a toad; which he will soon regret as they will cause some mild foaming of the mouth – but will also cause him to drop them immediately if he does catch one!
So get out there and listen to than amphibious chorus and you might even want to join me for a sunrise / dawnchorus Forest Bathing session next month!