Once upon a time at Domaine des Rochers, one was always stumbling across a reptile or an amphibian . As soon as the weather began to warm up, these cold blooded creatures would appear. First to turn up would be the toads, and before long our garden pond would become a frenzy of mating amphibians, though we have never seen frogs. It's not unknown for two or more male toads to target the same (larger) female, and very occasionally we would find one drowned. Shortly after this mass gathering we would notice strings of toad spawn wound around the water plants, after which the developing tadpoles were left to themselves. The adult toads had vacated the pond. On a summers night we might well stumble across an adult toad close to the house , but generally they would remain hidden.
This year however things have been different. Only one female toad turned up this spring, and we later found her secreted in our study. Perhaps it was the same one that we found in the garden a few weeks later. It seemed to have been attacked or injured, for its skin was stained blood red, and the toad had puffed itself up to almost twice its size in self defence. It eventually made its way to the pond where we left it in peace hiding amongst the flag irises. Hopefully it survived, for we have not seen it again.