A peeking Fowler's toad

Almost  Born on the Fourth of July
      Fowler's Toad (or Toadlet?)

  Early one morning (28 June 2000) Sue and I were walking around Saddle Rock, the residential area in which we live on Long Island. At the far turn of the walk, a small loop, a tiny animal hopped into view. And then another and another and another! There were dozens and dozens of the little creatures: very young, very small Fowler's toads.

They were hopping along the sidewalk, in the grass, and along the road. Although I had my Pentax and a 300mm lens, its minimum focal distance is about 12 feet, for which the tiny toads looked just as tiny.

The following day I brought along a 90mm macro lens. I didn't know whether any particular toad would stay still with a lens 2 inches away or whether they'd stay still long enough to give me time to focus, but it was worth a try. Amphibians are a measure of the success of an environment, so it looks like Saddle Rock is doing okay.

Although the toads had expanded their area a few hundred yards in all directions, there were still plenty of them to spot, and a few cooperated with the photo shoot.

Toad under a blade of grass

  The little guy (or girl) above was resting beneath a grass blade. He was really too small to see well enough to identify, but after the photos (and an ID book): the American toad, I thought.

Update:   A friendly person from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation identified the little fellow as Fowler's toad (Bufo woodhousei fowleri). (Yes, there is actually a useful and welcome aspect to local government.) The same department has concluded a 10-year project, with the results at its website: NYS Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project 1990-1999. Well worth a visit!

Since the "shadow" of the grass blade obscured that one fellow's back, the following shot shows the detail across his back: black spots with red/orange miniature warts. (It's the incredible detail of the macro lens that makes the concrete sidewalk look like a bed of gravel.)

Detail of baby toad

  But the main point is that these guys are new! They must have just metamorphosed from the tadpole state. The day after the macro photo session, I went with a camcorder, and got a few of the toads hopping along the sidewalk or moving through the grass. Although the lawns are well trimmed, it looks like a jungle in comparison to a toadlet.

The last picture is a still from the camcorder: Sue's finger (size 4 ring) next to a toad.
Sue's finger and a toad

There was no point in letting a toad stay too long on the hot sidewalk, so Sue would encourage any to leave the sidewalk for the grass. We don't know how many will survive but hopefully enough to have another terrific toad birthing next year.

More toad macros!

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