March is usually a good time to see our common toads migrating towards their breeding ponds, although the weather and temperature are strong factors for when that happens from year to year.
Toads mostly travel by night so the best time to observe them is at dusk and before dawn. Then once at the pond, the peak of mating and spawning is most likely to occur at or close to a full moon.
Males tend to arrive first at the breeding ponds, with females and smaller males appearing later. It is common for some males to await the arrival of the females on land surrounding the pond, which leads to many females arriving with males already in amplexus (where the males use specially developed, rough pads on the first two digits of their forefeet to grasp and hold onto the backs of females).
Unfortunately this obvious eagerness to breed and a high male-to-female ratio can lead to mating balls as pictured. This can even lead to fatal results in some cases with individuals in the centre drowning if the ball is not broken up. In happier circumstances breeding and spawning takes place, with common toad spawn being laid in strings with rows of two eggs – often wrapped around plants in the pond.