Toad-in-the-hole

I knew that toad-in-the-hole was an English dish made of Yorkshire pudding with sausages stuck in as it baked, but I didn’t know that our garden toads made themselves similar holes. I probably should have, but that one escaped me until I saw this one.

The hole was just big enough for the toad to fit, with a small space around it. I don’t know how the roof stayed up, because our soil is very sandy so I would have expected it to collapse.

The camouflage is good, too. The toads in my garden do have different shades of brown/green, depending on soil colour or if the soil is hidden by short plants.

Toad in the hole
Toad in the hole

It’s toad day today

Last night I narrowly missed a toad as I was hoeing the garden ready for planting sunflowers. It hid under the daffodils. This morning I found that it must have been heading for my garden pond. Toads usually live on land and don’t go in the water most of the year, unlike the frogs that tend to hang out near the water so they can get there in a couple of leaps to escape predators. However, today I counted 12 toads in my 3mx5m (10’x16′) pond so there were probably more. So today must be mating day for toads. Of course, they need to sing, which the males do by inflating their chins.

Toad song
Toad song
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Toad song-2

Which leads to rather clumsy sex, which is understandable when both parties are wet and slippery.

Clumsy toad courtship
Clumsy toad courtship

But somehow they manage to produce toad spawn. Unlike frog spawn, it is laid is strings, not clumps. You can see several dotted lines around this picture if you look carefully.

Toad spawn
Toad spawn

One of the toads was a distinctive colour. It mostly stayed in hiding under the lily leaves.  Not surprising as it must be easier to spot by predators.

Yellow toad
Yellow toad

On a different topic, here is our back garden.  We have a couple of hundred daffodils out now and the apple & crabapple trees in the background are full of buds.  I hadn’t noticed until now how much the one bird house pole is leaning.  I’d better fix it.  The stove pipes are to stop mammals climbing the poles and stealing eggs.  Our neighbours have bluebirds nesting – this is the first year I haven’t seen any here, yet.

Back garden
Back garden

I went for a short walk across the river.  Lots of wild strawberry flowers out, and I noticed that the pileated woodpecker is really taking this health-looking cedar apart.  I suspect it is doomed, even though it doesn’t look it from the outside.  There was only one hole, 2m up, a month ago.  Now there are dozens, including these two down by the roots, and none of the nearby cedars are being drilled, so this must be infested by insects.  You can just see the Pigeon River in the background.  5 km downstream is the Pigeon River Headwaters Conservation area.  I hear there are some interesting birds arriving there but I have to go to Halifax tomorrow so won’t have time to go and look until I get back.

Doomed cedar
Doomed cedar