Wildlife Diaries from the Botanic Garden: March 13-19

Welcome back to Wildlife Diaries. This is a collaboration between the Museum of Zoology and Cambridge University Botanic Garden, sharing the wildlife of the Garden as spring arrives. Catch up on last week’s post, with badgers, bats and more, and the week before with its flowers and fragrances, hibernating ladybirds and singing robins. Remember to join us for a special livestream at 5pm on April 1, when you can ask your questions to our panel of wildlife experts.

17 March 2021

After a dull start to the day, the sun came out. A Goldfinch greets visitors at the gate with its babbling song. A Smooth Newt makes an appearance swimming in the Fen Display, and the nearby Winter Garden looks and smells glorious in the late afternoon sunshine. Bumblebees buzz around the flowers collecting nectar. Our first Red Tailed Bumblebee was spotted feeding on the Mahonia flowers. Magpies, Longtailed Tits and Blackbirds were seen gathering nesting materials, and the air is filled with a chorus of Robins, Blackbirds, Wrens and Great Tits.

19 March 2021

Finally a gloriously sunny day! Chance for some of the early emerging insects such as spring moths and queen bumblebees to warm up and do some foraging. We checked the moth trap first thing to see which moths we had caught. We have been moth trapping almost every week since March 2018- we even trap throughout the winter. The data contributes to the National Garden Moth Scheme. Since January we’ve had very few moths in the trap, some days nothing, but this morning we had eight! Wow! This pales in comparison with the hundreds of moths we catch in June and July, but we were nevertheless very chuffed to have this many, after having such low numbers for so long. We caught a Small Quaker (which we think is a first for the site), five Common Quakers and two Hebrew Characters. Moths have such quirky names! The Yoshino Cherry has one or two blossoms and the rest are imminent, we can’t wait for the spectacular display we know is coming. Last year it was in full bloom by now, so spring is a bit slower this year, but it’s almost here! The Magnolias near the Brookside Gate are also about to burst into bloom. We’ve also started looking at the swelling buds on the native plants in the Cambridge Hedge and they are absolutely beautiful. The intricate detail of each bud, about to burst into leaf ,is well worth a closer look. The Blackthorn in the hedge has just started to blossom too, overlapping with the blossoming Bird Cherry in the corner, which is unusual. Last week, a visitor spotted a Treecreeper (a rather shy bird that does as its name suggests), and sent in the lovely photo below. Another was spotted in the birch trees by the fountain today.

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