Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Young Eyes

An afternoon spent in the woods with Lindsay and her father Kevin led to a series of discoveries I would not have made on my own. The next few blogs will describe the adventure of seeing the land with "young eyes."

American Toad?- Bufo americanu
The woods look a little different to a set of young eyes.  They aren't distracted by the conversation of their elders recalling the time they saw a bear on the tree when there is something that just wiggled a leaf on the ground.  It also helps that those eyes are set lower to the ground.

Lindsay is quick and fearless when it comes to catching critters.  This little toad escaped several times, only to be recaptured and studied before its final release.  This wasn't its first adventure in life.

She found it on our driveway, the edge of a glade on top of a short bluff twenty feet above the creek.  It started life as one of thousands of eggs laid by its mother in slow moving water along the edge of Bull Creek.  As the drought progressed, the creek dried up, leaving only a few inches of water, pooling in a desert of dried gravel.  Most of its fellow eggs became emergency rations for a wide variety of minnows, shiners, frogs and carnivorous aquatic larvae struggling to survive.

Life as a tiny black tadpole wasn't much easier.  Everything seemed to be chasing the dense school of its classmates which were picked off one at a time.  Just in the nick of time its little legs developed as its tail shriveled up.  It started its land journey as a half inch toadlet, searching for small insects and avoiding birds, snakes and other dangers.

... and the cycle starts again.
Eventually, by a series of random hops it arrived on our drive, only to be caught by a giant blonde biped.  It was fortunate that this particular mammal wasn't hungry, only curious.  Our toad may well grow up to feed on the insects drawn to the cabin lights and eventually head down to the creek to rear next year's toadlets.

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