One of our local thoroughfares has just closed to vehicular traffic. This isn’t because of resurfacing work – unless you count a greeny brown mass of springing bodies as a new surface (which arguably it is), and ‘work’ as the job of migrating from the a place of hibernation uphill to a place of copulation cohabitation downhill.
As if this weren’t enough of a spectacle, the local community can be seen of an evening forming what they call the ‘Toad Patrol’, ferrying love-hungry and risk-blind amphibia [I'm being very careful to use the correct plural] across the road to safety in buckets, dustpans etc – whatever garden vessel comes to hand – by torchlight. It’s all rather romantic, and gives me a great excuse to show you this fantastic 1949 King Penguin book entitled British Reptiles and Amphibia (thrifted, of course) and an aptly named vintage Sylko cotton reel.
This book is a classic. It has beautifully clear colour plates and not too much information to swamp the would-be naturalist. Here’s some of what it has to say about the common toad, Bufo bufo:
Pairing in England takes place at the end of March or beginning of April. Males predominate and when large colonies are gathered together, fierce struggles take place among them for the possession of the females.
Good luck, lads!