Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Spring Wildlife.

Another beautiful walk today as Malcolm and I headed round Mapperley Reservoir, a large lake of about 17 acres. While walking around, this little character crossed our path........ A Common Toad, Bufo bufo. Solitary, except during the breeding season, they excavate a shallow burrow, which they return to after foraging for prey. They are mostly nocturnal and shelter under tree roots, stones and vegetation during the day.
They shed their skin regularly, and often eat the sloughed skin. Contrary to popular belief, they tend to walk rather than hop. Common toads hibernate in October, typically under deep leaf litter, logs, timber piles, or in burrows and drainpipes. They will occasionally hibernate in mud at the bottom of a pond, but tend to live away from water except during the breeding season. They emerge from hibernation in spring and migrate to breeding sites, which is what this little chap must have been doing.
Further on and a clump of Wood Anemones, Anemone nemorosa, caught my eye.
Rather a pretty flower related to buttercups. The plant contains poisonous chemicals that are toxic to animals including humans, but it has also been used as a medicine. All parts of the plant contain protoanemonin, which can cause severe skin and gastrointestinal irritation.
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