Toads

Saturday, April 19th 2014

Frogs arrived first, spawned and left the ponds.  The spawn remained, at the edges of the ponds and in the middle, so we are back to our wet dry summer!  It seemed a long time before we noticed any changes to the spawn, but slowly the clear jelly became a black mass of tiny tadpoles.  Now they have disappeared.  On hatching the tadpoles feed from the jelly and then fall to the bottom of the pond and hide in amongst the vegetation until they are strong enough to swim around. Initially they feed on plant material but then turn carnivorous.  If the warm weather continues then we should soon be looking for tadpoles swimming around.

The toads arrived just as the frogs were leaving.  As with the frogs we have many colour variations.  Glennis photographed these different ones, one lighter, one darker, but both with the characteristic coppery coloured eye.  

Darker coloured toad

Lighter coloured toad

The toads laid their spawn in long strings threaded through last year's vegetation.  There is no set time for spawn to hatch as it does depend on the temperature. (The frogspawn in the Field Centre hatched in a very short time due to the warmth.)  A walk around in the sunshine yesterday saw the toad spawn in varying stages of development.

In this photograph you can see that the black dots, the eggs, have now turned into comma shapes, within the jelly.

The 'comma' stage

These toadpoles have hatched and are collecting together to feed from the jelly and algae that has collected on it.

Toadpoles just hatched

It will not be too long before they start to move around the pond.  Unfortunately at this age they are at the bottom of the food chain and many other predators will feed on them.

If you look carefully towards the top left of this phtograph you can see a pond skater obviously waiting for its prey!

Pond skater waiting for its prey

The adult toads have now left the ponds and like the frogs, will be all around the reserve, restoring their fat levels after hibernation and breeding.  Come midsummer we will find tiny frogs and toads leaving the ponds.


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