Spring is very much in the air. In fact summer is making a strong bid to knock spring off its perch already! Spring means animals getting more than a little randy, and this pair of Common toads are doing what comes naturally. Actually they're not in the act itself, but are engaging in a special hold where the male hitches a ride on the female for a few days, known as 'amplexus'.
These particular toads were seen in CenterParcs, Sherwood forest (more from there over the following days) where they were frankly abundant, with plenty of their fellow toads to be seen squashed on the road. The perfect page on toads, where I learnt about amplexus and many more interesting things is to be found at herpetofauna.co.uk.
And for my parting shot, is this "doing it froggy style"?
Thanks to Jenny for sending in this great picture of a young Common toad. At least I assume it's young as it seems rather small in relation to the grass. It might seem surprisingly brown, but apparently that's within normal range, especially in hot weather.
I see toads extremely rarely in my neck of the woods (I can't remember the last time) so it's nice to see this picture. You may be more likely to see their spawn, as evidence of toads in the locality, which forms long strings as opposed to the clumps of frogspawn.
Your intrepid UKNB editor has been on tour, this time to the Portuguese island of Madeira, off the coast of Morocco. Take a look at this Google map if you're not sure where I mean exactly.
One of the things I love about sunny climes such as Madeira (which was 26c by day, 21c by night) is the little lizards festooning every sun-baked stone surface, even the heart of the town. Apparently these are Madeiran wall lizards, though I'm not sure if the one pictured above is one of those specifically (as they look more like monitors, which the one above doesn't).
They tend to dart away if you get within a metre or two and are lightning quick so I assumed it would be very difficult to catch one. This YouTube video (which is nothing to do with me) shows that I was wrong!
A few things I've noticed of late:
The natural world is springing up around us so it's an exciting time to watch it grow. Here are a few things I have noticed of late.
The BBC reports on a survey of UK reptiles and amphibians that suggests numbers of most are in decline. Adders, toads, lizards and pretty much everything else apart from Palmate newts are seemingly struggling since 2007 when the surveying began.
I'd illustrate this article with a picture of an adder but I'm afraid I've never seen one let along photographed one. It sounds like my chances are shrinking.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust have a great website with resources to help in surveying many different kinds of wildlife, from ponds to fungi. The forms are designed to be sent back to report on wildlife in Norfolk, but there's so much great information and guidance that they should be of interest to anybody.
I lifted an old paving slab in the garden whilst clearing an area beside a shed and was surprised to see what looked like lizards hiding underneath it. In fact at first I thought they were curled up leaves or bits of wood that looked a bit like lizards, but it was quickly apparent that they really were live animals, though they didn't move. I went on thinking they were lizards for a while, and it was only when I tried to find out what sort of lizard that I realised they were newts - probably Smooth newts. Apparently this is a common enough mistake to make. More pictures after the break...