The rain and mild air finally enabled toads to get a move on, with the associated carnage as the poor amphibians attempt to cross our busy roads.
This peeping heap were spread out along 300m of roads approaching my local breeding site. Frogs don’t loiter on roads and are less vulnerable, but male toads use the open road surface as a vantage point to look for incoming females. It is easy to tell the sexes apart on roads, the males sit head held high intently watching whilst the ladies keep low and tend to move swiftly across. It is obvious that although thousands of males move to the pond to join the melee, a good percentage prefer to adopt a terrestrial interceptor method. Along the roads from up to 400m away from the ond the males were clearly spaced out at intervals of c.3-5m, with puddles being favoured (and the only places where males tolerated a closer neighbour). The question is: How do they decide on such spacing? It seems likely that an unsuccesful attempt to amplex, ie ending in a peeped ‘get off I’m a bloke’, ends in an ‘embarrassed’ retreat in order to avoid a repeat!
A poorly studied aspect of Common Toad breeding is the use of river edges. In Cumbria I regularly heard and saw male toads calling from the edges of wide slow flowing rivers (and saw spawn). These were always well spaced >20m apart, and calling very late in the season April-early may.
Finally my dad reports perhaps the ultimate evidence of how bizarre this cold spring has been, for in South Yorkshire his local Frogs spawned on the same day as his resident breeding Swallows returned!!!