April-28th toading with Discovery staff
Last spring, 2021, Discovery Southeast naturalists attended an evening symphony of calling toads on May 7th. That was toward the end of their annual spawning spree. In fact, their egg stringers were so covered with flocculent we almost missed em, camouflaged in the shallows. So this year, Bess Crandall and I planned a slightly earlier visit, in hopes of seeing mating pairs and active egg-laying. To our delight, there were seemingly even more adults than last year, and some males were calling softly. Sweeping the stillwater pond surface with binoculars, heads of floating toads were everywhere.
But few of those toads seemed paired. We watched some splashy interactions, which may have been semi-aggressive or disappointed meetings of males mistaking each other for mates, as in the final clip of this video.
We did find one pair in amplexus—on dry land, which is pretty unusual. In fact, I was so focused on searching the water that I stepped right over (thankfully not on) them. Bob Armstrong was more alert, and called me back to look.
I’m guessing almost all of the floating and submerged toads were males, awaiting females still journeying overland. Maybe this is one of the first arriving females, waylaid before making it to the water? If she extrudes her eggs here, they’ll die. Is that why females are larger? For piggybacking suitors to aquatic nurseries?