Friday, May 10, 2013

Toadsong in a Rock Pool (oil on canvas, 5 x 7 in.) Sold

7 May finds me watching Fowlers Toads hollering from a shallow pool on the flat limestone shore of the west end of Lake Erie, Ontario. Fred and I have walked from the sandy beach west of Point Abino, where the soft sand of the upper beach is tracked with the hopping prints of an endangered species, the Fowlers Toad. We have been tracking them for several evenings, on the Point Abino beach and also on Bay Beach, east of here - but this is the first time we've followed their voices to one of the spots where they breed.

The call of a Fowlers Toad is similar to the call of the larger American Toad, but lower pitched and of shorter duration. The American Toad makes a long, high trill that goes on and on for over ten seconds, but the Fowlers Toad's call, though also a trill, is rather like a bray. Some say it sounds like the cry of a baby.

All of the tracks head east toward the sound of the breeding chorus, and several Fowlers Toads hop along the wet sand within reach of the calmly
lapping lake. As we near the source of the braying and trilling (there is at least one American Toad calling as well) the black shadows of low rocks along the shore ahead are broken by patches of water reflecting the night sky. Then the sand gives way to pitted limestone, patched with mosses and drifted with the bleached shells of Zebra Mussels, and then we come to the first of the shallow pools.

I have seen many of these little toads over the past week - tracking them over soft sand, finding them at the water's edge, and even watching one bury itself. They are brisk little toads on the sand, but so spunky in their breeding pools, so focused on calling that they don't notice my approach, even to within 30 centimeters. I took several photos and short videos by flashlight. Here is the shortest one.



1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic series!! Boom & Gary of The Vermilon River, Canada. I publish a wild life blog. Google: Me Boomer and The Vermilon River.

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