Toads On The Move

#30DaysWild no 19: We think of toads as living at the Wheatland Farm wildlife pond, but often we find them a long way from water.

Like this one, which we picked up from the grass near Nuthatch Lodge. When we cut the grass with our brushcutter mower we quite often see toads crawling away from the cut zone. In the couple of years we’ve had the mower, we’ve only killed one toad accidentally. That seems to be because the blade is high, and cuts well above any hunkering down animals. It’s the same with voles – we see them scurrying away to an uncut patch, hopefully not too traumatised.

So it’s worth remembering that long grass is home to all sorts of creatures, even if it’s not necessarily bedecked with meadow flowers. Why do we cut it then? Well, if you leave grass year after year it gets tussocky, and although a few lumps and bumps are great for things like lizards, they aren’t so good for amenity value. Tussocks also tend to let nettles creeping thistle and soft rush get too much of a hold too. So every year or so we move the ‘regularly mowed’ sections. That way, our field stays as a meadow even without grazing animals, and although there’s always some disturbance, it’s only in a small part of the overall environment.

Previously on #30DaysWild

This time last year: we were once again thinking about the English flowers we have here at Wheatland Farm.

This time in 2019: Maggie was exploring the Pegasus Trail, from Okehampton towards Cookworthy Forest.

This time in 2018: Small Copper butterflies had emerged on Popehouse Moor SSSI. We’ve not seen any this year – perhaps 2018 was exceptionally early as we generally think of these as late summer butterflies.

This time in 2017: We were still enjoying four spot chaser dragonflies, whereas in other years they might be almost gone by now. It’s the same in 2021, as four spot dragonflies emerged a little later because of the wet May we had in Devon. What we haven’t seen yet this year are the common blue damselflies, or the blue tailed damselflies.