One of my husband's and my favorite activities here in North Carolina is what we call "goin' toading." On summer evenings the toads come out (they're Fowler's toads, my naturalist husband tells me) and when we take our dog for walks we look for them. We've even made up a song for our outings (sung to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"):
A-toading we will go,
A-toading we will go,
High-ho the merry-o,
A-toading we will go.
In our travels around the neighborhood we've identified three categories of toads. We call them mini-toads, mid-toads, and mega-toads. Descriptive, huh? My favorites are the mini-toads. They're the hoppiest and hardest to catch sometimes but they're the ones I usually go for. I'll also pick up mid-toads but I let my husband pick up the mega-toads if he's so inclined. Our dog just likes to try and pounce on whatever she sees. (I'm happy to report she has pretty awful pouncing aim and has never actually caught a toad that I know of.) Most of the toads we see are mini or mid; we've only seen a few mega-toads this summer. We also occasionally see nano-toads; they're really tiny and pretty much impossible to catch. When we catch a toad we just say hello to it, then we put it back where we found it so it can get back to catching its dinner.
Here's a picture of a mini-toad we found by our house one evening:
Here's a picture of a mid-toad—this one has more stripes than others but he's still a Fowler's toad.
Last but not least, here's our resident mega-toad:
This particular mega-toad is a real character. He (or it could be she) is always out in front of the same house at the same time almost every night. We've named him Megs (short for mega-toad; yep, original, I know). It took several tries to get a picture of him; I'd see him when I took the dog for her walk then my husband and I would go look for him to take his picture after he got home from work. When we got there after 10 PM, though, Megs would be gone. We finally figured out that I usually see him before 9:30 and he must go to bed (i.e. retire to the bushes) by 10:00. One evening when my husband was off and could come with me for our walk we went out at 9:00 to look for him and there he was, right in his regular spot. My husband even got an action shot of him hunting down a bug:
Right after hubby took the picture Megs caught the bug and ate it. Unfortunately, that happened too quickly to capture on film (or digital camera, in this case).