…of finding a spadefoot in the yard!
A few minutes ago — just before one a.m. — I was awakened by a sound I haven’t heard in our yard or in our neighborhood for years: a loud bleating croak, with the slightly rising tone and resonance I can only describe as being like the noise a wet rubber boot would make slowly squelching against another wet rubber surface, like an inflatable raft. “wraaaaaaah” “wraaaaaaah” “wraaaaaaah” It was the advertising call of a male Couch’s spadefoot.
Couch’s spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii, photo by A.Shock), having taken refuge at the very bottom of the pool, after I rudely interrupted his advertising song in the middle of the night by shining a flashlight on him, and looking at him. >>
Our very own spadefoot! This is exciting because, as I said, we haven’t had them in years. I figured they were extirpated from around here, so when my friend Kathy, who has them, well… in spades in her north Scottsdale yard, offered me a mort o’ spadefootlets, I jumped at the chance. I fed them up in a terrarium (a task made more difficult for being necessary during a nationwide retail cricket shortage) and released them in the yard. After that, there hasn’t been a word from the spadefoots (spadefeet?). Not a peep, not a croak, not a sighting, nothing. Mind you, this release was two years ago, in September 2008. (I blogged the event here.) I figured they hadn’t “taken.”
Last summer’s monsoon was a pretty weak one in these parts; maybe the spadefeet didn’t get what they needed. But this afternoon we had about six tenths of an inch of rain in just over half an hour. The wash in the yard ran; I had to do some engineering to keep water out of the studio (at least from the ground up; water always comes into the studio from the top down). Anyway, as much as we need the rain, and as cool and lovely as a windless monsoon event makes the desert air, I was not feeling fully friendly toward our wet weather. Until it brought out a spadefoot! I’m hoping there are others out there, females, with luck, and we can get a spadefoot thing goin’ on again in the joint.
(Now to get him out of the pool, which can’t be good for him, chemically; plus, he can’t get out by himself, so he’s a sitting duck for the raccoons, which have been marauding recently, mama and two kits. Poor dude, he’s just lookin’ for love…)