After a challenging morning trying to explain the simpleness of grasslands, I introduced a like-minded associate to the Dipper Ranch ponds. While circumnavigating the Newt Pond, I was surprised to see a snarled black string in the water. I reached to pull it out when I realized it was actually the egg strands of the California toad. They look like long, clear jelly tubes filled with a double row of shiny black beads.
I occasionally see toads crossing the Dipper drive - in their shuffling toad fashion - on rainy nights. I have never seen their eggs before. One female California toad can lay over 10,000 eggs with the male helping to squeeze them out of her body and fertilizing them externally. It sounds like something out of the Willy Wonka factory.
Go outside and look around without an air of expertise. Nature may delight. One day, if I am especially humble, perhaps I will hear the chirping of the California toad, a sweet sound for this warty rambler.
California toad, Bufo boreas halophilus
Gayle Pickwell, Amphibians & Reptiles of the Pacific States, Dover Publications, 1972.