Adapted from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter of May 26, 2007
issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve,
QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO
MILLIONS OF TADPOLES & TOADS

Up where the reservoir narrows between steep slopes and wet-season shallows now stand as Frogfruit-mantled terraces, you wouldn't believe the numbers of tadpoles. Well, you can get an idea from the picture below:

many tadpoles

That image shows thousands of pea-sized tadpoles alongshore, and similar tadpole superfluity continued up and down the bank a long way. How on Earth could there be enough food for them to eat? I assumed the water was muddy because the previous afternoon cattle had been wading in it to keep cool, but maybe it was just kept churned up by tadpoles.

Gulf Coast Toad, BUFO VALLICEPSAnd maybe the overabundance of tadpoles explains the hoards of tiny toads swarming through the vegetation mantling the former mudflats, where there's a toad about every half foot. Most toads are pea-sized but some are half grown and at least two looked like adults. One adult jumped from my path leaving a silvery jet of pee in his wake and the other remained cozily in a big mud crack as I took the picture shown at the right.

The toad in the mud crack seems to be the Coastal Plain Toad, BUFO NEBULIFER, distributed from the US Gulf Coast into Central Mexico along the Gulf Coast. I can't be certain that the tadpoles and immature toads are the same species, but it's a good bet.

In fact, when I camped out last Saturday night near where the above photos were taken I was awakened in the night twice by sounds. First, a little shower came very pleasantly pecking on my tent roof around midnight and, second, not long afterwards, a placidly thunderous chorus of multitudinous toad-calls awoke me, sounding exactly like the Gulf Coast Toads heard in the .WAV audio file online (click on the words "Bufo_vali_M.WAV" at the "Link" link) found at http://www.biodiversity.bz/find/resource/profile.phtml?dcid=21999.