Lovely day in Mid-Wales with a strange sound drifting over the forestry pond — like softly spoken geese. Not geese, not any bird, certainly not cicadas on this chilly, bright spring day. They are the muted tones of amorous amphibians — lovelorn toads!
Thirty, maybe fifty, in the pools of sunshine around the margins of the upland pond.
The smaller, more numerous, males clinging,piggy-back, onto the fecund females, bulging with eggs. Others joining in and some with their heads above the water calling.
See the strings of fertilized eggs and (below) an exhausted male!
We know it must be spring because the cock pheasants are rutting, fighting beak and nail while the hens pretend not to notice. These two are spoiling for a fight —
and it all kicks off!
Getting quite violent but balletic!
After several skirmishes the newcomer takes off with indecent haste leaving the resident cock to strut about guarding his territory while the eight females under the bird feeders, seemingly oblivious, continue to excavate the ground for peanuts thrown down by the picky nuthatch.
One hundred yards further up the valley another drama enfolds as the unusually sunny weather is drying out a shallow pond threatening the lives of several thousand tadpoles.
Enter International Tadpole Rescue with a bucket and dust pan!
All re-homed to a bigger pond further up the valley.
Over the road in our neighbors pond things are equally torrid as the toads, who pair later than the frogs, are only now laying their spawn. Here they are, photographed by Sue Whitehead (all rights reserved).
See how different the toad spawn is from the more familiar clumps the frog spawn.
We know that the mud at the bottom of these ponds is full of ferocious dragonfly nymphs and hungry newts and the surface today was sparkling with the ripples of a hundred pond skaters excited by the prospect of a juicy tadpole. How many adults will emerge from all this spawn?