Doug Wechsler photo

Doug Wechsler, naturalist, photographer, author of “The Hidden Life of a Toad”

American toads usually breed in the Wissahickon in April. By May, the tadpoles are congregating along the rocky, shallow edges of the creek, where bigger fish that would like to eat them can’t reach them. There may be dozens to hundreds of dark-brown tadpoles in a group, depending on whether rain has flooded them out. For a good spot to see them, walk upstream from the Mt. Airy bridge on the Chestnut Hill side or downstream on the Roxborough side and look along the stream edge. The tadpoles will most likely be resting on the creek bed. Toads lay their eggs in water, and they typically hatch in a week, after which the tadpoles remain in the water for about seven weeks. Adult toads can live up to 10 years, inhabiting the woods and nearby gardens, but are pretty hard to see. They’re nocturnal and prefer moist conditions, so if you want to find them, go out on a rainy night!