Kestrel's Musings

Rambles and explorations from this perspective.

California Toad?

Moving down to the foothills from 5000 feet elevation has afforded me the natural history moments I had hoped for.  Daily I have interactions with wildlife of one sort or another. Yesterday I woke to find another, the second I have seen in a week, distinctively shaped single scat deposited on my patio.   The tiny “tail” like protrusion first made me think of a cat. But the smaller size and lack of hair and bones visible made me doubt that. I quickly ran through my mind all the other scats I am familiar with and ruled out many. I consulted my Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada and some online pages. I sent out requests for help along with pictures. All signs lead to California Toad (…

I first became aware of the California Toad while investigating a Yosemite Toad I stumbled upon on a hike during a day off from ranger-ing in Yosemite several years ago.  Pictures and descriptions were all I had until I visited friends several weeks ago.  My four year old niece Tamzen showed me a toad they had found in their bucket that day. It was HUGE! The size of my fist. We got out the field guide and identified it as a California Toad. She witnessed my delight at the discovery and then we took it far from the chickens and cat to be free.

Fast forward to just a week or so ago as I drove in from a late night gathering where on our walk from one house to another Tamzen, her Dad, and I discovered and collected Pink Glow worms (another cool discovery, ) and investigated them under a microscope.   When I arrived home there in the middle of my carport was another California Toad.   I was fascinated by its size and the way nature seems to plant observations right in front of me.  I have been naturalizing in California with some focus since 1995 and finally I am having California Toad experiences.  And it goes on.  The following evening as I stepped outside to toss out the one thousandth millipede I had scooped up off the floor, there was a toad sitting in the moonlight on the walk way.   Finally, two nights ago as I opened the sliding glass door to toss a small beetle of the black sort (a future identification quest) a very large California Toad was practically falling into my room as it had been sitting in the door frame.  I assume foraging on insect critters that came to the light from my room.  I shooed it away and said goodnight.  The following morning I woke to find the fresh scat on my patio.   Identification pursuit begins…

The scat is 4cm longs and filled with small black beetle carapaces (see pictures). It is dark in color and tubular.  Any ideas from y’all?  What ever it is from, learning about my world will always light me up.


Author: Kestrel

Kestrel identifies as a naturalist, Yosemite Interpreter, guide, outdoor educator, science teacher, friend, music lover, auntie extraordinaire, adventurer for birds, and fellow sojourner on this big blue marble. Out there she strives to live life most generously and satisfyingly. Here she endeavors to share what rolls around the heart and grey matter...

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