April 5 2023
Forget the Easter Bunny, here comes the Easter Toad…
While gazing into my pond the other morning (as I am all too often, these days) I was startled to see long, perfect strings of symmetrical black beads, like tiny black pearls, threaded onto the plants.
At first I thought it was some kind of underwater vegetation that had got tangled in my new pots, and I reached out to untangle it. I was startled when the chain of black objects streeeeeeetched out like a rubber band, and then snapped neatly back into place!
Looking it up, I worked out that I was looking at toad spawn – eggs laid by a toad that sit in a long string, rather than in the large clump formed by frog spawn.
I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised – the pond has been a hive of XXX activity lately, with three pairs of mating frogs on view, locked in their “amplexus” embrace that apparently can go on for hours or even days. Even the Greater Water Boatmen have been sculling around locked in indiscreet mating pairs – upside-down, which makes it even stranger!
Greater Water Boatmen, it turns out, are voracious predators, “hunting many smaller invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish. Sensing the vibrations of its prey, it charges at it with lightning speed and stabs it with its ‘beak’, injecting toxic saliva into the wound so it can suck out the contents of the body.” So much for the peaceful pond environment! When all those tadpoles and toad-poles hatch out, and meet all the Baby Water Boatmen, it’s going to be a feeding frenzy…
There’s also one lonely newt, who sulks around looking very depressed, in the middle of all this amorous chaos. I’m sure he’s muttering under his breath, “I’m just spending some quality time with Me. Getting to really know Myself. It’s fine.”
And now, apparently, there are also mating toads somewhere under the protective algae blanket.
Who needs the Easter Bunny to leave chocolate eggs, when we’ve got lovely TOAD EGGS to admire!
With hugs from the pond edge,