Just when I thought she’d left me for another…..
Mavis is back!
Mavis is the largest Woodhouse’s Toads I’ve ever seen. She’s one of several that call our pond Home, having appeared from I don’t know where soon after I built it. I’d heard rumors that Mavis had been burrowing in someone else’s yard, but chose not to believe it. Why would she? It’s not like any of my neighbors have the variety of terrain and insects found in my yard, let alone a pond! “I think your toad has a new home under our playhouse…” Yeah, right, I thought. But when Mavis failed to appear in the pond night after night, I finally reconciled with the fact that perhaps she had found another environment that met her needs better than mine (hard to believe). But this morning… guess who was back?! Ah, yes, the grass always seems greener. But not this time.
The Woodhouse’s Toad is native to New Mexico and many other parts of the South and Southwestern US. The official description says they average 4″ in length which clearly puts Mavis in a class of her own. Each Spring, we adjust once again to what sounds like old ladies screaming in the back yard: The Woodhouse’s Toad mating call. Soon after, stringy layers of eggs can be seen in the pond and they hatch within about a week. Zillions of tadpoles then appear and they spend their formative months cleaning the pond of algae. Those who survive the pump and various other pond hazards (namely, the bullfrog), develop into tiny toads that can fit on a penny. For some reason, those zillions of tadpoles usually only result in one or two toads per season, which makes me think the prey/predator relationship in our yard must be out of balance.
Woodhouse’s Toads live on land and in water, although they have lungs so they can’t stay in water all the time. Our toads’ hunting territory extends to the neighbors’ yards to the north and south, as well as across the street. They also like to hunt in my studio when I leave the door open. I’m kind of amazed by the fact that they can make their way under the gate, out of our yard, hop all the way down the block, then come back.
[note: another blog post was automatically generated at the end of this one, and it’s really worth the read. It’s Some Thoughts On The Common Toad, about toads and Spring in England, written by George Orwell in 1946.]
It was a strange day of wildlife at the Live Clay residence. I also found this beautiful finch on my porch