My granddaughter and I counted 65 toads in the water along our pond’s dike this 
morning, mostly pairs in amplectus. We guessed that we’d missed quite a few 
that were hidden in the overhanging herbage, so maybe 100 toads in all. They 
make quite a chorus!

This afternoon I was watching a Crow on the dike, and got a look at its method 
for catching toads. It landed a couple feet back from the water’s edge, and 
walked slowly through the grasses, brambles and dead stalks, right up to the 
edge. Then it reached down and plucked out a pair of clasping toads, a big 
female with a smaller male on top. Quickly the Crow hopped backwards with a 
wing lift, secured its grasp on the prey, and then flew back with the massive 
load about six feet into the mowed strip, where it could proceed to kill the 
two toads without risk of their escaping into the water. At that point I had to 
leave, but I returned half an hour later to see what might remain. In past 
years I would have found a corpse on its back with its belly torn open, and 
many more like it up and down the dike. This year the corpses are not there, 
but when I reached the location of the kill, there was a telling amount of 
blood on the grass. So this tradition of toad-killing at my pond has not 
ceased, it has only evolved a new wrinkle: now the Crows retire with the kill 
to some less-frequented location!


Geo Kloppel
Tupper Road
West Danby

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