Thursday, 7 April 2016

Eye of newt, and toe of frog

The cold, wet weather felt more like winter than spring this morning, but we weren't put off and set off for College Lake to look for frogs and toads (and shelter in a few of the bird hides as needed). We headed down towards the Octagon hide and had a look in the ditch running down the side of the path. We didn't have to look very hard as it was full of hundreds of toads. Many of them were mating and there were strings of toad spawn throughout the water (toads lay their spawn in long strings rather than clumps like frogs).

It reminded me of the witches spell from Macbeth...

"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."
Just look at those eyes!
OK, so they were toads, not newts and frogs, but you get the general idea and they had some pretty crazy looking eyes. I don't know about a witches spell, but that all sounds like a pretty good day out for us!
We didn't see any frogs, but there was masses of frogspawn, much of which had already hatched. What was left looked close to hatching as you could see the shape of the tadpoles in the eggs. I wonder how many frogs, toads and tadpoles are in that ditch! 

We made our way to the Octagon hide, admiring the reeds and burst bulrushes on the way. There's something very appealing about bulrushes that look like they've exploded, spilling their stuffing.

The usual geese and swans were there, plus we saw redshanks, a shelduck, black headed gulls and several lapwings. I also saw my first swallow of the year, although it could have been a sand martin as I didn't notice it having a long tail.
2 black headed gulls having a good laugh with a lapwing
One of the islands in the middle of the lake
The board listing the days sightings showed that a ring ouzel had been seen on the reserve. We didn't see it, but that may be what the serious birders with their huge scopes were looking for. Mind you, we missed almost everything else on the board as well!

There were lots of signs of spring all around the reserve, with blossom, flowers and leaves bursting into life.
Fuzzy pussy willow

These hawthorn leaves looked like they'd had a real battle to break through all
the lichen

The sticky buds on the horse chestnut have burst open
And finally, the wonderful view from outside the visitor's centre, looking right out across the lakes and the reserve.


  1. Fantastic photos. I love toads' eyes... I'll show Junior who has just finished reading The Animals of Farthing Woods (in which a toad leads the animals to a nature reserve. I think he'll love the 'Hubble bubble' poem too. Thanks for sharing :)