Nature Strollers

The mission of the Nature Strollers is to support parents and grandparents in their role as primary interpreters of nature for their families; to provide opportunities for families to enjoy unstructured time outdoors; to familiarize families with local trails, refuges, sanctuaries and preserves; and to develop networks among families with a common interest in nature.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Goose Pond Mountain State Park, 12 April, 2008

The toads surprise us as usual, singing a week earlier than last year. After tumbling out of the car and organizing strollers, slings, and sneakers, we are not far along the trail before elusive snatches of the toad’s trilling is brought to us on the breeze. Then it’s a race to their semi-permanent pond, to greet the males and females that have hopped from wood and field for a chance to lay eggs. The activity quiets at our approach, but we soon pick out some toads sitting on the vegetation and others floating in the water. We all wait anxiously for them to become used to our presence, after all, we are a rather large group. Then the display begins.

Play these videos to hear the American toads singing!

The males closest to shore are identified and pointed out to adult and child alike. We await the moments when they inflate the skin under their chin and produce their song. The kids can’t believe the “balloon” these little guys are blowing. We net one male for a closer look at his bumpy skin and golden eyes. At the second pond there is more amphibian activity. The kids net a bullfrog tadpole, and proudly show it off. Mother and child share a moment. While grandparents on our Saturday hike cocked an ear to the trilling, kids spotted the necklaces of toad eggs tangled along the bottom of the pond.

The American toads are always a big hit with our crowd. A passer-by drawn in by our antics commented that the toad’s egg laying was just like Animal Planet. Think of that; the stuff on documentary TV might actually be occurring out there somewhere and if you’re glued to the tube, you’ll miss it.


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