July 6, 2011

It was 11:30 at night and I was soaking in the bathtub when my husband tapped on the door.

"The Rillito is running at 5000 cfs," he said. "Are we going?"

"Hell, yes!"

By midnight, several other people had gathered to witness the incredible spectacle of a torrent of brown water rushing below the old bridge at Dodge and River. The air was heady with the scent of rehydrated desert vegetation.

And while I had hardly dared hope for it, by a culvert near the bridge I heard the unmistakable bleeting of spadefoot toads!

If your browser can't play the video, download the MP4 here.

From Wikipedia:

Couch's Spadefoot Toads are native to the southwestern United States and the Baja California and they live for the monsoon. They can spend years underground waiting for the right conditions. Once the soil is saturated the males dig out and go looking for females, and when and they find them they broadcast the news loudly as they can. Mating is an urgent matter for spadefoots. Their tadpoles must hatch, grow, and change into toadlets before the pool evaporates in the summer sun. That's why they do most of their mating the first night the pool forms. Couch's spadefoot toadlets sometimes leave the puddle only nine days after the eggs are laid!

And if you love spadefoots, see photos from 2008, which was the best year in recent memory for Tucson's spadefoots.

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