Aylmerton Nature Diary

Saturday 4th April


Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper, Felbrigg water meadow

The sun came out for our afternoon family walk, with youngest grandson Noah, to Felbrigg Park. Birding highlights included Marsh Tit and Treecreeper by the screen, Goldeneye and female Mandarin on the lake, and, as I was scanning the now well drained water meadow, a Green Sandpiper – a NENBC area ‘first’ for 2015, and a ‘blog’ tick! Green Sandpiper occasionally over-winter and are amongst the first of the expected returning wader migrants. On the return walk through the shelter belt I finally connected with the Willow Warbler which has been hanging around for the past ten days or so – another ‘blog’ tick.

On a much sadder note, there appears to have been an amphibian massacre, involving dozens of frogs and toads, by the new sluice. Several dying animals appeared to have suffered puncture wounds – I’m mystified as to the ‘culprit’. Any suggestions welcome.

Injured Common Toad


Decimated Toads


Photos courtesy of Jane Williams


2 thoughts on “Saturday 4th April

  1. Hi Trevor.
    I have a possible explanation for the toad deaths. In some places Carrion Crows have learnt to eat Toad livers. Apparently the rest of the body is poisonous or at least unpalatable, although no-one knows how the crows found out that the livers were tasty. The way the crows get to the livers is by pecking through the back of the frog or toad, which I imagine would look just like your first picture (a frog rather than a toad). This behaviour has first documented in Germany, but I don’t know if it has been seen/proven in the UK before. Presumably the crows are intelligent enough to notice the large amounts of spawning amphibians and utilise them as a food resource.


    • James, Thank you for this possible explanation – very interesting. I have read that Otter have developed a liking for Toads legs, which they skin before eating and that other predators can ‘stock-pile’ dead frogs. I’ll have to keep more of an eye open for the possible culprits. Regards, Trevor


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