Whilst on the beach litter pick on Formby sands I was powerfully reminded of another visit to our coastline in the company of Duncan one of Coastal Rangers. The trip was organised by the Brownies early in the year to show the girls the dunes and the slacks where the natterjacks toads breed. One of the people helping with the beach clean posted on her twitter account this picture of our most treasured resident. It give me the opportunity to reproduce Jean Sprackland's poem.
The Birkdale Nightingale a poem by Jean Sprackman is set in the same landscape:
(Bufo calamito – the Natterjack toad)
On Spring nights you can hear them
two miles away, calling their mates
to the breeding place, a wet slack in the dunes.
Lovers hiding nearby are surprised
by desperate music. One man searched all night
for a crashed spaceship.
For amphibians, they are terrible swimmers:
where it's tricky to get ashore, they drown.
By day they sleep in crevices under the boardwalk,
run like lizards from cover to cover
without the sense to leap when a gull snaps.
Yes, he can make himself fearsome,
inflating his lungs to double his size.
But cars on the coast road are not deterred.
She will lay a necklace of pearls in the reeds.
Next morning, a dog will run into the water and scatter them.
Or she'll spawn in a footprint filled with salt rain
that will dry to a crust in two days.
Still, when he calls her and climbs her
they are well designed. The nuptial pads on his thighs
velcro him to her back. She steadies beneath him.
The puddle brims with moonlight.
Everything leads to this.
from Tilt (Cape, 2007)