Down beneath the lowest stalks, amongst the mulch and damp soil lives our friend the common toad (bufo bufo).
We disturbed the little critter as we were lifting the second early potatoes - and my, does he shift! I think it is a male because female toads are larger. he was certainly camera shy.
The toad is one of my favourite native animals. Well camouflaged and secretive, they lurk unseen in our gardens after the business of spawning is over. they lay their thin strings of spawn in early spring, usually in larger ponds. They have a homing instinct that sees them returning to their birthing pool as adults.
The toad is distinguished form the frog by its squat habit, its shorter hops and its characteristic bumpy skin. The blemished skin hides glands that give a nasty taste to anything fancying a nibble.
And they are truly the gardeners' friend, feeding on all of the invertebrate life that our wildlife friendly, organic gardening sustains.