Communing with the Toads
I have been trying to figure out when the Fowler’s Toads were going to start arriving at the temporary pond in the North Burial Ground for the annual ritual of reproduction. Over the years the criteria that I have arrived at is first and foremost a pond with sufficient water. When the pond is too dry, it would be a wasted effort even for gamblers like toads, with 2 or 3 years out of 5 with complete cohort failure, The next criteria I can only verify by my own observations, I have never seen it in a book or on line, though I can not be the first to see this. Fowler’s Toads seem to require temperatures near 60 degrees Fahrenheit as it gets dark. Until Monday May 9 no evening in recent weeks, or when there was water in the pond, had been warm enough.
On Sunday May 8 I saw a toad burrow in the sandbank above the temporary pond. I only found these last year, so I do not know the timing of burrow digging. By the end of winter all the holes were filled back up. But it is clear the first one was re-excavated over the weekend. It was excavated into one of the zones that are eroding/filling in after being used last year.
I have been going out nearly every evening, especially since the pond filled last week with all those little rains. Monday May 9 the evening temperature was near 60. Since I saw the new burrow I had to assume at least one toad was around. So I was a bit hopeful that the3 warmer temperatures would prove fruitful.
I arrived at the pond sometime after 8:20, and it seems the first singer was just getting started. As the night grew darker the first singer was joined by at least one, and probably 2 other singers. Though Fowler’s Toads are not at all melodic. They were going strong when I left about 9:30, though no new singers had joined for a while. Interestingly, I did not see any new burrows when I walked by this afternoon (May 10) maybe only the females make burrows, as sometimes it seems the boys just stay at the pond through the whole mating season, which can go from early May to Early July.
I usually give a narration of what is going on in my videos, but in this case I want you to concentrate on the toads and not on the narration. So I did no narration. Hence this little note. The video is a progression from about 8:20 to 9:20, but i just include here a few short samples. If you want the whole 30 minutes I taped, come on down to the pond some evening real soon. Life is better than memorex. I am happy to go with you. The video starts as dark descends with one toad singing. As it gets darker another two toads eventually join the chorus. The 3 all sound a bit different, and standing by the pond I could discern at lest a few feet of separation of two of the callers.