Once Christmas is done and dusted, the first sign of spring activity that I start looking for in the new year is the return of frogs, toads and newts to their breeding pools. Anytime from early March I concentrate my efforts on checking wealden lake edges and downland dewponds for signs of their arrival.
Common Toad (Bufo bufo) (mating clasp)
Confusion reigns and male toads will fight each other off in pursuit of a female, resulting in a mass of writhing bodies. The males of both frogs and toads are highly charged during the breeding season which can occasionally lead to some bizarre behaviour amongst the strings of toad spawn.
The following photographs show a male Common Frog (Rana temporaria) in a mating clasp with a female Common Toad (Bufo bufo). These species are not closely enough related to produce hybrid offspring and the spawn being laid by the toad was destined to remain unfertilised.