I tried to explain to my small warty paramour that my gloved thumb was not, as he believed, a lady toad, but was in fact part of my hand and a not insignificant part of the reason why he wasn't, at that precise moment, squashed flat on the lane by the car that had just roared past, lights blazing and not noticing either of us at all. His response, once I stopped talking, was to coo more loudly and hold on more tightly. Apparently, as soon as I scooped him up off the tarmac he decided he'd fallen in love and no amount of gentle reasoning would persuade him otherwise.
I tried to prise him off by lifting him up. That didn't work. Then I tried to persuade him to walk off by nudging his bottom. That didn't work either. In the end, I placed my hand in the stream, hoping the coolness of the water might sufficiently dampen his ardour and show him his mistake, but of course that was nonsense because water is the medium of Toad Love And Marriage and all that I achieved was to get a wet glove and a cold hand and a still happier toad.
It was all rather sweet, and rather touching, and very funny. Picture the scene: there was me, in the pitch black with a semi-circle of light from my head torch haloing the ground immediately in front of me, half-way down a muddy bank in my wellies trying not to slip and overbalance into the stream in which twenty small toads sat watching me impassively, while a happy male toad clung onto my thumb and serenaded me with a whole string of musical Coos.
This is precisely the sort of thing that is always happening to me. It rarely seems to happen to other people. I'm wondering how you spent your Thursday night? I'd lay money it wasn't as I spent mine, rescuing toads and being serenaded by them.
Needless to say, I got the giggles, which didn't help.
I've watched them mating all this week and it really is a grab hold, climb on and stay there or else process. The girls (who are quite a bit bigger than the boys) waddle off with their smaller paramours clinging onto their backs for dear life- any other male toads fancying their chances get short shrift in the form of a long toady leg thrust into their faces. Toad mating is a determined game. But then it has to be, because, from what I've seen this week, there are ten males for every female and the death rate on the lane is high.
Eventually, I managed to dislodge my little friend and he went off happily into the water. Apparently, he was not heart-broken at the loss of my thumb, because as soon as he found a real female toad he jumped on her. Toady affection is clearly an ephemeral thing.
I'll leave you with some pics of the Long Tailed Tits who have been back in the garden consuming vast quantities of fat balls this week. Everyone is starting to sing here now- the Blackbird has taken up station at the top of one of our trees where he sings away at dawn and dusk, the GSWs are drilling in the trees like mad and I keep hearing Greenfinches whirring away although I never seem to see them. It won't be long till nesting starts in earnest :o)
Hope all are well?