The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Karl Terry
Columnist 

Toad chorus a sweet sound after rains

 

August 20, 2017



An amphibious landing rivaled only by D-Day is under way at the edge of my driveway. This landing is one of natural amphibians — spade-footed toads to be precise.

I say they’re spade-footed toads without a real close examination because that’s what is common around here and I remember watching them when I was young.

The toad I’m referring to here makes that raucous chorus after big rainstorms like we’ve had recently. I guess it irritates some transplants to the plains because it is quite loud and never lets up. To me it is a sweet sound associated with life-sustaining rain here in the desert Southwest.

Growing up on an irrigated farm, that sound also meant that the chances had just improved that early the next morning the camper would be loaded into the back of the pickup and the old motorboat would be hitched to the bumper.

Right now I’ve got a regular science lab at the end of my driveway. The water has been standing there continuously for close to a month. It drains out to a point after rains then water is left standing along the curb. It has only been by the grace of God that we’ve had rains timed just right to keep water there without it drying out.

One day a couple of weeks ago I noticed that my little curbside river was filled with tadpoles. A closer examination turned up earthworms, water bugs and even a little snake one day. I never noticed the toad eggs in there but I’ve been listening to the critters sing about their accomplishment.

With my pickup parked along the curb, the pollywogs had shade and the grass sprouted through the concrete seams of the curb provided cover and probably helped grow tadpole food of some sort. I really don’t believe they were capable of browsing on the grass.

Growing up we made seine nets from old screen material and caught tadpoles. We kept them in jars with holes punched in the top so we could examine the odd creatures closely through the glass. If we got them at the right time we could watch the legs develop and the tail get smaller. Mostly they ended up getting too hot and turning into pollywog soup.

My driveway tadpole nursery is faring better. Little toads began showing up near the edge of the water earlier this week. I even caught sight of one little rascal trying to hop around with a tail still attached to his backside. Sorta stuck between two worlds.

Tonight my driveway and the street on the other side of the puddle is hopping with little toads no bigger than the tip of my little finger. I’m not sure what kind of predators they have to worry about but it won’t take too big a percentage to yield a lot of croaking toads.

I hope they’re quickly able to eat the crop of mosquitoes that are surely growing out of that same science experiment of a puddle.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: karlterry@yucca.net

 

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