Our objective was to meet the folks who live in the estates built by the sand dunes which is also home to the natter-jack toads. The dunes system in Birkdale and Ainsdale- part of the Ribble estuary- is a fantastic place for wild life. A couple of miles north is the RSPB Marshside Reserve but in amongst the dunes it is the natter-jack toads that are treasured
All of which gives me the opportunity to refer to the poem by Jean Sprackland
The Birkdale Nightingale (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.