The Search For An Iberian Midwife Toad


Back at the end of November, “Herper” Kevin Byrnes from the UK contacted me after seeing my image of an Iberian Midwife Toad I found whilst walking Wally. The term Herper comes from the word Herpetology, the study of Reptiles and Amphibians.

Kevin and his wife Suzanne are on a quest to find and photograph all species of European Reptiles and Amphibians and wanted some advice on locating an Iberian Midwife Toad, suggesting he was planning a trip to the Algarve at the end of January.

Back then I informed him that it was an easy task as throughout the winter the area around São Marcos da Serra is full of the echos of beeps, the calling noise of the Iberian Midwife Toad.

However, over the last few weeks the Toads have been unseasonally quiet due to the dry autumn and winter. A few days ago, Kevin contacted me to say they had arrived in the Algarve and would be planning to meet up at the weekend.

Yesterday was the day and I met up with Kevin and Suzanne just before the end of Civil Dusk at 6pm, still a little early for the Toads to start calling. The day had been very warm and dry with temperatures reaching 24deg C and I was concerned we would be out of luck.

However, as the photo shows, we struck luckly (story continues below the photo).

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(Young) Iberian Midwife Toad/Sapo Partero Ibérico (Alytes cisternasii)
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Spotted Another Iberian Midwife Toad


Once again, whilst taking Wally (the Dog) for his pre-bed pee-walk I found an Iberian Midwife Toad and only had my phone (Samsung Galaxy S8+) with me. However, I have to admit, this is a pretty impressive night shot, albeit shot in “Pro” mode and the RAW file post-edited in Lightroom.

Midwife Toad (Photographed using my Samsung Galaxy S8+ Phone)

For an idea on how small these Toads are, I took a shot with a €1 Coin for comparison. It’s amazing how loud the “Beep” noise they make can come from such a small creature. We can sometimes hear them from around half a kilometer (maybe more) away.

Midwife Toad and €1 Coin (Photographyed using my Samsung Galaxy S8+ Phone)

These small Toads emit a very electronic beeping sound and remarkable in that the female lays eggs and the male carries them around on his back until they are almost ready to hatch when he deposits them in a water source. This is where the name Midwife comes from.

I plan on getting some shots with the “real” camera soon and hopefully find some males carrying eggs. I will also get a recording of the calls, but this might not occur until the next rain which unfortunately is not forecast in the near future. We really need some rain now!