I LOVE TOADS!
Sometimes, you just have to have a little luck on your side. I was totally unprepared for what happened last Sunday morning. I had been to the ocean beach at low tide. Clouds shielded us from the sun, but those rays warmed things up rapidly. We shed our coats and started to head for home, when through the open windows of our car, I heard an amphibian chorus! At first I thought it might be Peepers chiming in, but the repetitive nature of these songs suggested Tree Frogs or maybe Toads. My daughter and I grabbed our nets to get a closer look at who was making all that noise in this quiet fresh water pool at the entrance to Head Beach. We spotted a frog on the surface, and then as our eyes got sharper, we saw frogs expanding their throats to produce the ever present din. Then, we caught one who complained with small noises. We kept looking as we had developed a "search image" for these animals. A car stopped to ask what we were up to. As they drove off, they shouted, "Hey there's a big one on the road!" We carefully netted this animal and realized this was a large female Toad responding to the calls of prospective mates! It was a Toad fiasco we were witnessing! Remember, these are animals showing their amphibian natures as they return to an aqueous environment to assure the survival of their specie.
We brought home several males and the large female hoping to witness some egg laying. One male quickly climbed aboard the female while the other males raised their voices in pursuit of amplexus. I am still waiting for some eggs to be laid and fertilized, but can't get over how lucky we were to witness this toad episode. It reminded me of an episode a few years ago when a report came that tiny toads were hopping out of this pond and heading across the road to start life in the dryer world. It pays to keep your eyes open and anticipate these amazing happenings. So mark your calendars......in Maine, toads may be singing love songs at the end of April after a spell of warm days. As a followup, the female did lay an abundance of eggs in the typical toad strings. I wasn't able to witness the event, but all is well in the toad world. I have returned these precious amphibians to the area in which they were netted.
The woods are filled with emerging greenery.......spikes of Canada Mayflower, tiny shoots of Starflower, and various fern fronds unrolling. The one flower we observed was the small Bellwort in the woods of North Bath. One has to keep an eye out for bloomers, since every day, something new comes forth to announce that spring is finally here in a big way. Come to think of it.......the bells are ringing in behalf of the toad episode.
4/29/09 Ronnie, toad-a-ly impressed.