Author Ronnie Reed
The amazing thing about nature is that it’s going on all around you, where ever you live or work. The other amazing thing is that occasionally Nature pulls something special out of her bag of wonders and you pause for a moment to watch or listen as an ordinary moment and a small surprise turns into something magical.
I know that I share my office with a family of mice; the evidence is there in the morning when I open up and I also know there are swallows nesting next door in an empty barn. They perform gold medal aerial gymnastics around the buildings, slipping effortlessly though crevices in the eaves to feed their young.
But what I didn’t expect the other day was a toad in a bucket! The old, black bucket in question stands by the back door of the office and as I moved it to prop the door open I realised there was something moving in the dark, murky, dank rainwater that has collected in it over the last few weeks. The water settled and as I watched, a bloated shape floated to the top. Dark brown, warty with a gold ring around his eye he scrambled to get up the side of the bucket. As I moved, he (or maybe she) moved and sank to the bottom again and then we played a waiting game. I kept still trying not to let my shadow fall across the bucket until he rose again and allowed me to take a photograph. Then I carried bucket and toad into the woods, tipped him out and watched as he disappeared into the undergrowth, freed from his watery prison.
Nor did I expect to find a slow worm hiding under a plastic bag in our garage. It took a second to realise that the long brown ‘stick’ lying completely still was; well not a stick. Dark, almost black with a vertebral stripe this was a female. If she had mated in April or May, she could have been ready to give birth to up to twenty young, having incubated each single egg inside her body over the last three months.
The problem was what to do with this legless lizard. If I picked her up by the tail, that is all I might have been left holding as they have the ability to shed their tails and regenerate new ones. The solution came in the shape of a dust pan and brush but I was amazed at the speed with which the slow worm came alive and started slithering sideways across the floor towards the open door. Eventually she was caught and released into the long grass between the garage and the field.
Surprises are nice!