LOCAL OBSERVATIONS 2009 - February
Saturday 28th February 2009
Conditions: cloudy, humid, no wind.
Temperature : around 15 C
Time of observations: 20h30 to 22h30
Herp season is back ! I first must explain why the website has been so little updated since last year... In southern France, we experienced one of the driest years in 2008, as you may have noticed by the lack of amphibian observations at prime times in the year such as March.
2008 was so dry in fact that most of the rivers had no water for the whole year, the usual ponds I visit were also bone dry, with hope of rain for autumn dashed, the amphibians had a year off. Very heavy rain fall and storms in late winter have assured full ponds and green lands once more, for now at least...
Tonight was the first reasonable night for amphibians, no wind, low clouds, a quite mild temperature, and it even drizzled with rain an hour before my excursion. However the evening started off very slow, nothing was spotted for over an hour, there was even no sign of newt in the forest ponds, which is surprising considering they are the first amphibians to break the hibernation. I followed one of my usual water ways back towards the village and it was then I spotted my first amphibian of the night, a Natterjack toad sat at the side out of the water, and only a few feet away there was a couple of Bufo bufo in amplexus, I followed this canal quite some way and ended up spotting half a dozen Natterjack and one more Common toad. I also heard Common Midwife toads calling from a builders yard, it seemed to be 2 or 3 specimens, however I couldn't locate them. Towards the end of my excursion I started to hear some amphibian calling, the usual calamita chorus, to conclude it seems I found myself in the field just as the amphibians were making their way to breed, and as I headed home, they started their reproductive cycle. From here on, it should be a very exciting couple of months.
First specimen of Natterjack toad
Amplexus of Common toad
Another specimen of Natterjack toad, on land
Male Natterjack sat at the side of the water, you can see the nuptial pads are brownish, not as dark as they will be in a few days time
Here we go again, a female Natterjack toad prepares herself for a plunge into the water, "I hope the water isn't too cold"
Text & images © Daniel Phillips