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Cousins working together on our family owned farm with the aim of running a commercial modern farm producing high yielding, high standard crops while maximising wildlife diversity. Brian is said to be the farmer and conservationist, whereas Patrick is a conservationist and farmer. This mix has given a new direction for the farm, building upon the work that our fathers and grandfather has done to improve the overall success of the farm business. The farm has gone from strength to strength with the farm being recognised at a national level winning the coveted National FWAG’s Silver Lapwing Award for farming and conservation in 2009 and then Patrick and Brian were named Countryside Farmer of the Year by the Farmers Weekly in 2010.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

  • The population is wide spread over the UK but absent from Ireland
  • It can grow to 8cm, and is generally brown or olive brown and young specimens are often brick coloured. The skin is warty and often appears dry.
  • Glands in the skin contain powerful toxins and would-be predators quickly learn not to attempt to eat toads.Unfortunately for the toads however, a few predators, such as grass snakes and hedgehogs, don't seem to be deterred.
  • The Common Toad can be found in almost any habitat and is common in gardens.
  • It prefers larger water bodies in which to breed and, because toxins are also present in the skin of the tadpoles, they are able to breed in ponds and lakes containing fish which learn to avoid the distasteful tadpoles. Common Toads congregate at breeding ponds in early April but for the rest of the year will wander well away from water as they are far more tolerant of dry conditions than the Common Frog. 
  • Common Toads feed on any moving prey small enough for them to swallow. 
  • They are most active at night when they will wander about in search of food. If they find a good source of food they can become quite sedentary.   
  • Their life cycle is similar to that of the Common Frog, spawn is laid in strings (not clumps like the Common Frog) and the tadpoles are black and often move about in shoals.
  • During mating, the male clutches the female from behind in a tight embrace. He fertilises the long, triple-stranded strings of eggs as she lays them among the waterweeds.
  • The toadlets emerge in August usually after heavy rain and in huge numbers. At this stage of their lives they are extremely small.
  • Common toads can live up to 40 years.

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